The Bush Fairy Tale on the Libby Pardon

You need to keep one thing in mind as you read this story about Cheney’s campaign to get Bush to pardon Scooter Libby for his conviction related to the CIA Leak case. (h/t MadDog) Judge Emmet Sullivan has strongly suggested he’s going to rule in favor of CREW in its FOIA of Dick Cheney’s interview with Patrick Fitzgerald. So chances are good that we’ll get to see that interview in the foreseeable future. But Congress withdrew its request and CREW has not made any request to get Bush’s interview.

In other words, the sources for the story know that Cheney’s interview will soon become public, but that Bush’s probably won’t be.

As a result, the Bush partisans can tell a story about Bush being really miffed at Libby’s role in the case, all while claiming that the commutation (which of course was and still is the best way to ensure Libby never talks going forward) had nothing to do with Bush’s own knowledge of the leak.

Time Ignores that Libby Was Protecting Cheney AND Bush

This misleading narrative pervades the entire story. For example, Time suggests that Libby lied to the FBI because his job was on the line, and not because he was protecting Cheney and–at least to some degree–Bush. Time claims Cheney "assured Bush" Libby "wasn’t involved," when the note Cheney wrote prior to that exoneration implicates Bush himself and may reflect Cheney’s recognition that Libby had leaked the CIA trip report.

But Libby had reason to lie: his job was at stake, and his boss’s was on the line too. Bush had declared that anyone involved in leaking Plame’s identity would be fired. Cheney had personally assured Bush early on that his aide wasn’t involved, even persuading the President to exonerate Libby publicly through a spokesman.

And Time reports Bush officials acknowledging that Libby may well have taken the fall–but in spite of evidence of Bush’s personal involvement, portrays that acknowledgment as pertaining only to Cheney, not Bush himself.

As a former Bush senior aide explains, "I’m sure the President and [chief of staff] Josh [Bolten] and Fred had a concern that somewhere, deep in there, there was a cover-up."


Some Bush officials wondered whether Libby was covering up for Cheney’s involvement in the leak of Plame’s identity.

Most humorously, Time doesn’t blink at the story that Bush felt the need to consult his own defense attorney about whether or not he should pardon Libby!

Meanwhile, Bush was running his own traps. He called Jim Sharp, his personal attorney in the Plame case, who had been present when he was interviewed by Fitzgerald in 2004. Sharp was known in Washington as one of the best lawyers nobody knew.


While packing boxes in the upstairs residence, according to his associates, Bush noted that he was again under pressure from Cheney to pardon Libby. He characterized Cheney as a friend and a good Vice President but said his pardon request had little internal support. If the presidential staff were polled, the result would be 100 to 1 against a pardon, Bush joked. Then he turned to Sharp. "What’s the bottom line here? Did this guy lie or not?"

The lawyer, who had followed the case very closely, replied affirmatively.

I’m sure Bush’s defense lawyer didn’t mention that pardoning Libby would make it impossible for him to invoke the Fifth. Sure. Right.

Time Pretends Fielding’s Actions Were "Normal"

Time reports Fred Fielding as considering what was "normal" for pardons (remember–this guy worked for Nixon!), but does not note that the commutation itself violated the norm (which is that someone serves some of his time before a commutation). And it doesn’t mention that the commutation served an additional purpose–keeping Libby out of jail with his ability to invoke the Fifth intact, making it almost impossible for Congress to call him to testify on Bush or Cheney’s role in the leak.

Fielding’s arrival in early 2007 was one of several signs that the balance of power in the Administration had shifted against the Vice President. Fielding reviewed the Libby case before the appellate verdict came down and recommended against a presidential pardon. Cheney’s longtime aide hadn’t met the criteria: accepting responsibility for the crime, doing time and demonstrating remorse. "Pardons tend to be for the repentant," says a senior Administration official familiar with the 2007 pardon review, "not for those who think the system was politicized or they were unfairly targeted."

The verdict was one thing. Libby’s sentence was another matter. Fielding told Bush that the President had wide discretion to determine its fairness. And within hours of the appeals-court ruling, Bush pronounced the jail time "excessive," commuting Libby’s prison term while leaving in place the fine and, most important, the guilty verdict — which meant Libby would probably never practice law again. Fielding’s recommendation was widely circulated in the White House before it was announced, and there is no evidence of disagreement. If Cheney and his allies were disappointed with Bush’s decision, they did not show it, several former officials say, in part because they were, as one put it, "so happy that [Scooter] wasn’t going to jail."

Similarly, Time makes great efforts to make Fred Fielding’s recommendation that Bush not pardon Libby appear to be all reasonable, without noting that normally pardons get reviewed by the pardon attorney, not the White House Counsel.

The counsel knew that only one legitimate reason for a pardon remained: if the case against him had been a miscarriage of justice. Because that kind of judgment required a thorough review, Fielding plowed through a thick transcript of the trial himself, examining the evidence supporting each charge. It took Fielding a full week. He prepared his brief for an expected showdown at a pardon meeting in mid-January 2009. 


For his part, Fielding laid out most of his findings in a document called the pardon book, a compendium of evidence for anyone seeking clemency. The book on Libby lengthened the odds on a pardon. "You might disagree with the fact that the case had been brought and that prosecutorial discretion had been used in this way," says a source familiar with the review. "But the question of whether there had been materially misleading statements made by Scooter — on the facts, on the evidence, it was pretty clear." As far as Fielding was concerned, Libby had lied under oath.

As a result, Time spins the highly unusual centrality of the White House Counsel in this decision and the outcome as a great, wise judgment rather than the best way to carry out a cover up.

Time Creates the Myth of Bush the Protector of the Truth

And most ridiculously, Time reports Bush’s appeal to the truth in his commutation, without noting Bush’s earlier flipflops on statements claiming to want the truth.

And there were these two sentences: "Our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth," Bush said. "And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable." Particularly if he serves in government. Bush’s allies would say later that the language was intended to send an unmistakable message, internally as well as externally: No one is above the law.

(Of course, if Time were to admit that Bush promised to fire people who leaked Plame’s name but did not fire Rove, they would also have to admit that the magazine published claims from Rove they knew to be false during the investigation–so I guess I can see why they like this "truth" fairy tale.)

Which creates, finally, the noble fiction of Bush making this difficult decision alone, and choosing for the truth over his Vice President.

Bush would decide alone. In private, he was bothered by Libby’s lack of repentance. But he seemed more riveted by the central issue of the trial: truthfulness. Did Libby lie to prosecutors? The President had been told by private lawyers in the case that Libby never should have testified before the grand jury and instead should have invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. Prosecutors can accept that. But lie to them, and it gets personal. "It’s the difference between making mistakes, which everybody does, and making up a story," a lawyer told Bush. "That is a sin that prosecutors are not going to forgive."

Ah yes. Making up a story. Not like Bush and his partisans would ever do that!

  1. bmaz says:

    Fielding reviewed the Libby case before the appellate verdict came down and recommended against a presidential pardon.

    Um, what appellate verdict?? More sloppiness. Or are they talking about the simple release pending appeal attempt (that isn’t a “verdict” guys)?

    • emptywheel says:

      Also, they weirdly suggest that Cheney was interviewed in October 2004.

      Bush himself was interviewed by Fitzgerald on June 24, 2004, as was Cheney some four months later.

      When the FOIA materials have made it clear the date on the interview was May 8, 2004.

      Maybe they’re confusing Cheney with Rove, the guy Time protected in 2003.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        I was going to bring that up. Was the error on the date of Cheney’s interview sloppy or deliberate? Maybe we should email Massimo Calabresi and Michael Weisskopf and ask them to post a correction.

        • emptywheel says:

          I’m trying to figure out what it would be deliberate–or why the Bush spinsters telling this fairy tale would want people to think that Bush’s interview preceded Cheney’s, rather than following it by seven weeks. Perhaps to hide the fact that, based on what Cheney said, Fitz felt the need to hear what BUsh said?

          • phred says:

            The irony of the Time article is that we hadn’t been talking about Bush’s interview. Now that the Bush camp seems anxious to tell its pretty fairy tale, we’re now wondering what Bush’s interview might tell us… I do hope CREW takes the hint and sends a nice fruit basket to Time to thank them for the reminder.

      • Mary says:

        I almost couldn’t get past the beginning of the story: It reveals a gap in the two men’s views of crime and punishment.

        Hell, haven’t we had to have two huge pieces of amnesty legislation for Bush to avoid punishment for his frickin crimes????? – I almost couldn’t go on.

        It really is more a set up piece for any future torture investigations, though, than it’s ostensible Libby goal don’t you think? What they buried at the end, “Since Cheney was often the man responsible for the policies that are now under scrutiny, it is perhaps no surprise that he is leading the counterrevolt.” I think is really at the heart of it all. Cheney is getting the signal that Bush is going to take advantage of all the wagons Cheney circled around the Presidency. Be interesting, if Holder actually does anything, to see where that puts Addington. And Fredo, for that matter.

        The whole piece kind of incredibly ignores Karl Rove, doesn’t it? Bush is the stalwart defender of truth and justice (Bush had declared that anyone involved in leaking Plame’s identity would be fired)and oh, about turdblossom, let’s just leave him out of the piece, ok? Even though he’s linked with the actual publication of the info, not just planting with someone who didn’t publish. Oh, but they do mention he wasn’t indicted. No mention of Bush authorizing the NIE leak when he was refusing to brief Congress “bc of leaks” etc. Just lots of “Bush despising favoritism” references. That got a physical reaction from me – Gonzales and Miers nominations for AG and Sup Ct were obviously what issues from a guy who despises favoritism.

        I’m glad you mentioned the timeline on the interviews. Without even thinking that they had the date wrong on Cheney’s interview, I was scratching my head trying to figure out why Fitzgerald would wait months after talking to Bush (and supposedly getting the NIE info from Bush) before talking to Cheney (who I thought was first up with the NIE insta-decalssification story).

        Massimo Calabresi and Michael Weisskopf may not have two first names, but they should get their own category. Notice how they managed to also get Clinton’s Rich pardon in? It was somewhere between laughable and painful to read. I guess Time is not object to re-writing history these days. They don’t even have to wait for the story to finish before the re-write the ending.

        OT – but here’s what you get with a criminal law and investigation approach, vs a black site torture regime -NY al-Qaeda recruit turned top informant

        • emptywheel says:

          Yeah, with no mention that Libby was Rich’s lawyer, in an article about Libby.

          Just a bizarre story, really. I’m trying to remember who Massimo’s source was for the story he did with Cooper–bc it’s probably the same person here.

          • Mary says:

            Someone who talks like this:”after six years in Washington, Bush had finally found himself a White House counsel who was up to the job” bc while that’s unattributed and written as unsourced factual rep, I tend to think neither of them would use that phrasing if they weren’t basically quoting back what they had been told. So a Fielding fan. I’d almost tend to think Smart was a source for a lot of it, esp with the mention of the packing boxes scene.

              • Mary says:

                It really is the most strange of stories.

                In the version that pulls up for me from the link, there’s a pretty funny juxtaposition.
                Bush invited Sharp to the executive mansion for a farewell cigar. is followed immediately by a hotlink to (See Bush’s economic mistakes.)

                So with the packing boxes case, do you have Bush having third parties around while he asks his personal atty for advice on whether or not to pardon Libby (cratering privilege) or do you have Bush or the atty anteing up the private conversation (cratering privilege)

                And if we are getting all these leaks on White House deliberations, what is that saying about the deliberative privilege in other cases and in particular in the case before Sullivan? Not only is no one with the old or new WH showing up to actually assert the deliberative privilege DOJ is trying to claim, but everyone is running around leaking stories to the press on related deliberations.

                Sounds to me like Bushco has lost access to that final “goodun” lawyer they found – would it be a conflict for him to represent Bush personally after having been WH counsel? Letting all this info on deliberations out to me adds more punch to any subsequent request to get the President’s interview released – the President’s people have been salting the press with leaks re: the deliberations process in this case.

                I was disappointed during the USAtty firings that Bush had Fielding on board. Bush so clearly was digging his own hole (I am not involved in the firings at all – send Tony out to tell them that) and then he got back, under Fielding’s wing, and was able to start reciting that USAs served at the President’s will, without anyone in the Press nailing him on, “then you are saying YOU FIRED THEM Mr. President, even though your office has said repeatedly you had nothing to do with the firings? Can you reconcile that Mr. President???

                But why mention something so tawdry – after all, Bush despises lies and favoritism. I know bc Massimo tells me so.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            (Note for anyone reading who does not recognize snark. What follows is snark. If you can’t read snark, skip this comment.)

            Yeah, with no mention that Libby was Rich’s lawyer, in an article about Libby.

            Picky, picky, EW.
            Were Rich and Libby both ‘aspens’?
            Did either of them ‘turn’?
            Were they connected at their roots?

            If not, really, I think you’re being far too nitpicky.

          • esseff44 says:

            Marc Rich is a more likely source of a trust fund for Libby than Cheney might be. He could still be working for him without a license. Yes, a long article about Libby and pardons including the Marc Rich pardon playing a starring role and yet no mention that Libby had been his lawyer for years. IIRC, Libby was one of the lawyers who snookered Eric Holder into pushing the Rich pardon.

        • bmaz says:

          Gonzo has always been the weak link just begging to be exploited. I also have an inclination Andy Card might open up more than people think if he was put in the witness chair with some facts he had to confront.

          On another one of your points, I have always been surprised that Fitz had anything more than a few hours, at most, between Bush and Cheney’s interviews.

          As to your comment @45 – No question there were plenty of bases for Libby to keep pleading the fifth even with a pardon and make you fight him till the next of never to the contrary (and he still might win that).

          • Mary says:

            anything more than a few hours, at most, between Bush and Cheney’s interviews

            I know, and now the Oct dating in the article is even more odd. You know, Fitzgerald did let Rove go back, over and over, to dig his hole deeper. Is there any chance that there was more than one interview with Cheney?

            BTW – has there been a FOIA request on the letter from Fitzgerald to Gold Bars?

            • klynn says:

              I know, and now the Oct dating in the article is even more odd. You know, Fitzgerald did let Rove go back, over and over, to dig his hole deeper. Is there any chance that there was more than one interview with Cheney?

              (my bold)

              Good question.

            • bobschacht says:

              “BTW – has there been a FOIA request on the letter from Fitzgerald to Gold Bars?”

              Excellent question! I hope someone is listening…

              Bob in HI

        • Rayne says:

          The whole piece kind of incredibly ignores Karl Rove, doesn’t it?

          Well, it all depends on who Calabresi and Weisskopf meant here:

          Former Bush aides say Cheney’s behavior needlessly stoked anti-Bush sentiment, which had only just begun to subside in voters.

          Who’s a “former Bush aide”? and who’d be worried about voter sentiment?

          EW (45) — do you mean the “War on Wilson” story?

  2. fatster says:

    This cracks me up. I arrived here to link to the Time article, only to see that the amazing Ms. EW has already written and posted an entire article on it! Great.

  3. emptywheel says:

    All of which makes me rethink the reasons why DOJ wouldn’t want Cheney’s interview released. If he said that Bush authorized any and all leaking, then it would reraise issues of obstruction through commutation.

    • bmaz says:

      Uh, yeah. Weren’t we discussing just that the other day? That is exactly what is going on (among other factors too I would imagine). This is all especially problematic for Obama, and therefore Holder, if they cannot get healthcare done by recess. Where’s MadDog – the bet is on!

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        OT Warning: Health Care Digression!

        This is all especially problematic for Obama, and therefore Holder, if they cannot get healthcare done by recess.

        Sorry bmaz, but I must disagree.

        I do think this is a moment in which Congress is going to — inadvertantly — reveal whether it has been completely captured by Big Pharma, Big MedCo, Big Finance, and Big Banks.

        Health care has actually been a growing problem since at least 1984, and I know people who started predicting (in the early 1980s) pretty close to the health care disaster we’ve all seen unfold since Hillary’s efforts were stopped in the early 1990s. This is not something that’s happened overnight, and it’s such a fundamental issue that if Congress can’t address it in a meaningful way, then Congress is going to become a national joke.

        This whole cluster of issues (wellness, financial security, personal relationships) that is termed ‘health care’ strikes so close to people’s lives that the people seen as ‘obstructing’ health care reform are going to be political toast.

        Congress can take 40 vacations; this issue is not going away. The longer they try to delay meaningful action on this issue, IMHO the more pissed people are going to get. The last time that I went to an Open House with my Congresscritter, people were pretty hot and bothered, but still respectful. I worry that as the Congress dallies and dodges, tempers are going to rise and the people who were upset but speaking in quavering voices last year are going to be shouting in fury by October if their expectations that some kind of meaningful action happen aren’t fulfilled.

        Obama is wayyyyy out ahead of most in Congress because he spent two years in living rooms, diners, restaurants, and town halls hearing story, after story, after story about how the screwy health care system has damaged people’s lives. He’s way ahead of Congress in grasping what this means to people — all over the nation.

        Also, remember how many hospital administrators, health clinic managers, docs, nurses, and care provider networks are really, really frustrated.

        The whole meme that this can be ‘delayed’ is an outdated, stupid idea.

        What’s going to happen is that the longer this is ‘delayed’ the more Big Pharma, Big Finance, and the oligarchic tools in Congress are going to be on the receiving end of absolute, intense loathing and contempt.

        At this point, taking action is a way to cool down tempers.
        People are too pissed to roll over and forgive Congress if it doesn’t act this year. And I don’t need the sanctification of a Gallup Poll to make this comment; look at your local paper and scan the number of ‘foreclosures’ and ‘going out of business’ ads. Then drive around your area (and mine is pretty affluent) and look at the new ‘For Lease’ signs popping up.

        People are in no mood to forgive a political institution that can’t do its job. The longer Congress stalls, the higher the emotional frustration that I sense building up.

        And now, back to the thread topic of Bush selling out Cheney by way of commutation, ably aided and abetted by the Bush43 consiglieres via TIME.

        • bmaz says:

          Hey now, what kind of blowjob are you accusing me of? I am simply saying that the odds are good that Obama really probably doesn’t want to release the Cheney interview until he has passed healthcare. You disagree with that?

          Oh, wait, did I say blowjob? It is the in thing to do you know….

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Gack, sorry! Misread you.
            Agree that he doesn’t want to release Cheney until after the health care passes; however, that gives more heft to Certain Parties to continue to delay it.

            What is interesting is to see — again, I have no crystal ball, but if my ‘tea leaves’ are correct — how far off from ‘mainstream’ the GOP (esp in Senate) continues to drift.

            I thought the last election would whomp them into recognizing they’re screwed. Instead, it seems to have traumatized them so badly they’re a bit like Wiley Coyote still racing and racing, without realizing they’ve run straight off the cliff and there’s nothing underneath them except a 2 mile freefall.

            My point here is that whatever support Cheney or Bush was counting on to help cover up and protect them may well be eroding rapidly as emotions rise because the same people who lectured Sotomayer about having said she was ‘Latina’ continue to cling to beliefs like, ‘a public health care option would allow “bureaucrats” to control your medical care’.

            If I’m seeing astutely, the political cover that Bush and Cheney were/are counting on to continue covering their tracks is eroding as these (mostly guys) dig deeper into their denial.

            I didn’t think the GOP could implode any further, but what we’re now seeing is just amazing.

            And ironically, it may be that the energy they spend denying they’ve asked mommy and daddy to write checks to shut up their mistresses, or taking hikes on the Applachian Trail, and trying to sabotage health care policy continues to weaken them so much that they won’t have the clout to keep covering Bush’s sleazy ass.

            If that’s the case, then I’m awed at the power of Lady Karma.

            In other words, I thought the wind would kind of dissipate.
            Instead, I think there’s some kind of political typhoon building up; (hope that I don’t look really stupid a month or two out for saying that, but I think something weird that we don’t yet understand is somehow accelerating in the background, the way energy concentrates prior to a vast storm that alters the landscape.) Maybe I’m nuts, but things just seem really odd right now, like when you’re not sure you hear the distant claps of thunder.

            Odd sensibility about the character of the political conversations these days…

            • rapt says:

              “I think there’s some kind of political typhoon building up…something weird that we don’t yet understand is somehow accelerating in the background, the way energy concentrates prior to a vast storm that alters the landscape.)… really odd right now…claps of thunder.”

              I’m right with you on that one TeaLeaves. You may call it a political typhoon, but it covers all of human sensibility.

              “They,” the old PTB (13 families?)who have been running things for centuries, are losing their power. No way around it; the time has finally come. The rest of us will find that in the next few years we will have to lead ourselves and abandon the old govt model which lets face it, has failed, from old age I guess.

              So we see now, and will see increasingly more confusion as the old standards collapse.

          • PJEvans says:

            Gonna be a long wait. Harry (Weak) Reid says he’s not going to vote on it until sometime this fall, spineless good-for-nothing majority-alleged-leader that he is.

      • MadDog says:

        …This is all especially problematic for Obama, and therefore Holder, if they cannot get healthcare done by recess. Where’s MadDog – the bet is on!

        We still on bro!

        As a matter of fact, given the current vagaries of health care legislation passage this summer, it would not surprise me at all if the politicos in the White House (I’m talking about you Axelrod, Rahmbo, Craig, etc.) finally come around to thinking positively about what a fantastic diversion going after Cheney would be after all.

        Throwing in their hand on the FBI Cheney Plame Betrayal interview is just the type of red meat political diversion that will provide some much needed cover for legislative stumbles.

        Look, shiny thing over there!

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      (Of course, if Time were to admit that Bush promised to fire people who leaked Plame’s name but did not fire Rove, they would also have to admit that the magazine published claims from Rove they knew to be false during the investigation–so I guess I can see why they like this truth fairy tale.)

      Which creates, finally, the noble fiction of Bush making this difficult decision alone, and choosing for the truth over his Vice President.

      I kid you not, I experienced a physiological gag reflex when I read this. Still nauseous.

      ‘Obstruction through commutation’ is a phrase we haven’t heard nearly often enough. Time for that one to enter the MSM narrative, and the sooner, the better.

      It does lend a whole lot more heft to the notion that Bush43’s loyalists are still trying to keep a shine on the Family Name. Still hoping Jebbie can run in 2012 or 2016, no doubt.

      • bobschacht says:

        It does lend a whole lot more heft to the notion that Bush43’s loyalists are still trying to keep a shine on the Family Name. Still hoping Jebbie can run in 2012 or 2016, no doubt.

        Isn’t it interesting that Jeb hasn’t been in the news much lately? Maybe he’s waiting in the wings for the right opportunity to sweep onto the Front Pages, and seizing the remnants of the Republican Party. I’ll bet Poppy and his friends are already planning the Bush comeback.

        Bob in HI

    • klynn says:

      Time, Time, Time, Time…Did you not think the Plamologist of the Ages would weed your work? The shame of their arrogance in writing this bad PR piece.


      EW writes:

      All of which makes me rethink the reasons why DOJ wouldn’t want Cheney’s interview released. If he said that Bush authorized any and all leaking, then it would reraise issues of obstruction through commutation.

      Would any further context of the “meat grinder note” in Cheney’s interview reraise the issues of obstruction through commutation?

      (BTW, I’m very happy. The computer is up and running finally!)

  4. bmaz says:

    If Cheney and his allies were disappointed with Bush’s decision, they did not show it, several former officials say, in part because they were, as one put it, “so happy that [Scooter] wasn’t going to jail.”

    Well no shit sherlock, I’ll bet even Scoots understood that one at the time; hasn’t got anything to do with what they expected later, on the way out the door, though.

    Jeebus, this Time article really is crap.

  5. Leen says:

    Thanks Ew “truth fairy tale” Truth and justice fairy tale.

    I thought at the end of the trial at some point Fitz said that he had hit the ball into congress’s court. Why did congress withdraw its “request” for the documents? Are they just being chicken shit?

    Can our justice system trump someone taking the fifth? What a way out of telling the truth and being held accountable.

    Was Ari Fleisher fired or did he just go? I thought he was part of the team who outed Plame.

    Libby gets a get out of jail free card, knows that he can take the fifth if has to. Wonder how he is making a living..Maybe a Cheney family trust fund for life.

    What a pathetic justice system.. Bush administration officials out an undercover agent who put her own life on the line and all walk free.

    No need to wonder why the peasants have little to know faith in this so called justice system

  6. fatster says:

    O/T (On-going Topic), Another Fellowship/C Street participant?

    BOYLE: Shuler staying at DC spiritual retreat?

    JOHN BOYLE • JULY 23, 2009 12:15 AM

    “U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, who publicly thanked his “Lord and savior, Jesus Christ,” upon winning his first election, has never hidden his Christian devotion.

    “But he is remaining mum about whether he lives in “C Street,” a stately Washington home that serves as sort of a spiritual retreat for several congressmen. The Washington Post also notes that the home “pulsed with backstage intrigue” during recent scandals involving South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and U.S. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada.”


  7. Rayne says:

    Jeebus. What a puff piece, a virtual blow job for Bush by TIME.

    The photos at the embedded link in the feature say it all, “This is dedicated to teh man we luv.”

    Even the link to RottenTomatoes’ movie rating and a link to First Dogs are attempts to curry favor.

    Is somebody worried they’re going to lose access to Bush should the manure hit the oscillator? Why are they doing a beat sweetener postmortem?

        • Rayne says:

          Bwa-hahahahah. Wondered how long before I’d get a reaction.

          But seriously, that’s some hardcore kneepad work by Massimo Calabresi and Michael Weisskopf, professional caliber stuff.

          They must have had big league coaching.

          • klynn says:

            Geezy peezy, now I need to go poke my mind’s eye out…hardcore kneepad work.

            Never go on MSNBC Rayne! /s

            • klynn says:

              Phred! Now, I need brain bleach!

              (And I got harassed for mentioning Larry Flynt in a positive context yesterday. Go figure.)

                • klynn says:

                  phred, phred, phred…

                  Just take a pill.

                  But if problems arise beyond four hours. Don’t come here to tell us all about it. Call the doctor.

                  • Leen says:

                    “just take a pill” hey that’s what medical system is telling and giving our Vets (some traumatized) returning from Iraq. Have been in the VA hospital and pill room with my 82 year old WWII, retired teamster dad a great deal the last two years have talked to many returning Vets in those pill rooms.

                    Most of them will tell you that is what they are told “just take a pill” but not for sex …for their sanity

  8. yellowdog jim says:

    yd ianal here.
    as a theory, why Couldn’t Obama grant Libby a full pardon (poof! go his 5th amendment i-don’t-have-to-testify excuses, right?)(and wouldn’t this be a reason, if not the reason bush didn’t pardon libby, while cheney plays B’er Rabbit’s “please don’t throw him into the brier patch!” kabuki), Then put Libby on the stand or in front of the right committee (or whoever?) and put him under oath and compel his testimony?

    we suspect that as a practice, the DOJ is 1st among many impediments, yet as a theory, how far off am I?

    • perris says:

      yd ianal here.
      as a theory, why Couldn’t Obama grant Libby a full pardon (poof! go his 5th amendment i-don’t-have-to-testify excuses, right?)

      not a lawyer either but this looks spot on to me, however obama has demosntrated he gives great deference to bush and cheney’s trashing our constitution and would never undermine their actions in this regard

      obama was one of the best things that could happen in protecting these criminals, if mccain had won democrats would be all over him and never let up, since it’s obama he gets a pass from everyone but those here at the lake and a few other progressive blogs

  9. perris says:

    The President had been told by private lawyers in the case that Libby never should have testified before the grand jury and instead should have invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

    this is also misleading

    irvin couldn’t plead the 5th because we weren’t after iriving and fitz would have been MORE then happy giving irv immunity

    • bmaz says:

      Oh Libby could have plead the 5th, and I am not so sure Fitz would have given him immunity. Maybe, but by no means certain.

      • Rayne says:

        I do wonder whether Fitz was thinking of Walsh’s admonitions from the summary of Iran/Contra, wrt excessive use of immunity:

        Immunity is ordinarily given by a prosecutor to a witness who will incriminate someone more important than himself. Congress gave immunity to North and Poindexter, who incriminated only themselves and who largely exculpated those responsible for the initiation, supervision and support of their activities. This delayed and infinitely complicated the effort to prosecute North and Poindexter, and it largely destroyed the likelihood that their prompt conviction and appropriate sentence would induce meaningful cooperation.

        In other words, evidence of willfully sticking one’s neck in the meat grinder made immunity unworkable as leverage.

    • Mary says:

      More revealing would have been to say – if Libby was pardoned, he couldn’t have taken the 5th in follow up investigations.

  10. fatster says:

    O/T (Old Topic)

    Blackwater Seeks Gag Order
    July 22, 2009
    “It became common practice during the Iraq occupation for the US State Department to work with private security companies like Blackwater to help facilitate giving what amounted to hush money to the families of Iraqis shot dead by private security contractors.

    . . .

    “Now, Blackwater (which recently renamed itself “Xe”) is attempting to use other means to silence its victims. On July 20, the company’s high-powered lawyers from Mayer Brown, which boasts that it represents eighty-nine of the Fortune 100 companies and thirty-five of the fifty largest US banks, filed a motion in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to impose a gag order on Iraqi civilians suing the company. The motion also seeks to silence the lawyers representing the families of Iraqis allegedly killed or injured by Blackwater in a series of violent incidents spanning several years. Four cases in the Washington, DC, area were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions.


  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A Grimm fairy tale, indeed. Not one I would want to tell to small children on a dark and stormy night.

    It’s more like a ribald farce told to elicit cheer on the faces of comrades in pilgrimage or to earn another dollop of stew or of ale. Reporting? Nonsense.

  12. tjbs says:

    I always wondered how you could pull a commutation out of the constitutional pardon provision.
    Just another example of protecting and defending the constitution of the United States, being like the strict constructionists they claim to be.

    I nominate bush for a seat in the dock where justice can probe and deliver. Like at a Nuremburg thingy.
    Then everyone could stare and wonder at his service of truth and justice while he was deciding things.

    • emptywheel says:

      Hueville is utterly livid with the government:

      “This case is an outrage to me,” Huvelle said. “I’m sorry. This is an outrage. I’m not going to sit up here and wait for you to come up with new evidence at this late hour. There is only one question here, did the guy throw a grenade or didn’t he throw a grenade. That’s the issue. Right? If he didn’t do that, you can’t win. If you can’t prove that, you can’t win. I’m not going to have people running around trying to figure out a way to get this case out of the Court’s jurisdiction for some other reason. You have to come to grips with your cases.”

      Noting that “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing” in these cases, Huvelle refused to postpone the hearing to accommodate Barish’s family vacation, given that Jawad has been in prison for seven years and the government knew the case was in trouble since Vandeveld resigned last year.

        • emptywheel says:

          I think pretty much everyone in Prettyman is fed up with the govt–they’re swamped with Gitmo stuff, and it’s crap like this over and over again. Add in Horn v. Huddle and Stevens, and their credibility is really shot.

    • esseff44 says:

      Thanks for the link. I have been looking for these articles. Do I read them to say the DOJ lawyers agree not to use coerced evidence in this case but does not say what it will do in other cases….or have they made it apply to other cases?

  13. alabama says:

    Bush is responsible for everything, he knows this, he covers his ass at all times, and I think we play into his game by focusing on Cheney. And since Cheney is always in the spotlight, we have to correct for this problem with every story we read.

  14. JohnnyTable70 says:

    Of course Libby’s job was on the line. Bush demanded absolute loyalty. Those like Paul O’Neil and Richard Clarke that dare question the administration were excised like a boil. So for Time to insinuate that Libby only did what he did because his job was on the line is misleading and IMO an intentional omission to spread the false meme since Time was originally used by the administration.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      From the Guardian:

      The mayors of two New Jersey cities and a state legislator are under arrest today as part of a major corruption and international money laundering conspiracy probe.

      Federal prosecutors say about 30 people have been arrested….

      Federal prosecutors say several rabbis in New York and New Jersey are also arrested. One congregant says a synagogue in New Jersey has been raided.

      Now go read Jack Abramoff’s Wikipedia page, which has new info since I last read it: involvement in money laundering, setting up eCommerce (that would surely have enabled massive transaction scams out of US dollars and into only heaven knows where), involvement in African ‘liberation’ movements (which, FWIW, might link him up with the venal, amoral Victor Bout), lobbying for more, better tax havens and offshore accounts… and also, non-profits specifically set up for fraudulent purposes. I’ll include some tidbits about eComm related stuff.

      In 1999, eLottery hired Abramoff to block the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, which he did by enlisting Reed, Norquist, and Tom DeLay’s former chief of staff, Tony Rudy.[43]

      Emails from 2000 show that Susan Ralston helped Abramoff pass checks from eLottery to Lou Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) and also to Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), in route to Reed’s company, Century Strategies.[44][45]c…

      …On October 18, 2005, The Washington Post reported that Bob Ney, as chair of the House Administration Committee, approved a 2002 license for an Israeli telecommunications company to install antennas for the House. The company, then Foxcom Wireless, an Israeli start-up telecommunications firm, (which has since moved headquarters from Jerusalem to Vienna, Virginia, and been renamed MobileAccess Networks) later paid Abramoff $280,000 for lobbying.

      You’d need to control telecomm if you were going to use eCommerce to loot and pilfer money out of the US. If you wanted to do it unnoticed, then… well, security’s not my forte, so I’ll leave the brainer coders around here to comment if they so wish.

      Wonder whether there are anyroots connecting Abramoff, GOP, neocons, and that roundup in Jersey? I don’t say there are linkages, but if there were things would start making more sense.

      • plunger says:

        The matter of Israeli telecoms (actually Mossad-developed telecoms and software) involved in US-based telephony leads logically to their ability to wiretap within the US, and the next logical step thereafter is its use for criminal activity including blackmail / extortion.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        ANOTHER telecom company,IDT is from Jersey-yet is now 80% Israeli owned.

        IDT Global Israel is a multi-lingual contact services company headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel.

        Until July 1, 2008, it was a fully owned subsidiary of IDT Corp.; on that date, 80% of the company was sold to its Israeli CEO, Eli Ninio, with 20% remaining in the hands of Howard Jonas’ IDT Corp..

        Among the company’s customers are Netgear, McAfee,, and the Israeli political party Shas. Most of the company’s projects are not in Hebrew – Israel’s primary official language – but rather in various European languages, including English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and others. Until 2007, American companies were the company’s main customers; these included AOL and Knowledge Networks. Since 2008, the company has focused almost exclusively on the European and Israeli markets.

        The company’s main location is in a Har Hotzvim office building which is shared with the Israeli branch of NDS Group

  15. Leen says:

    Wow Terri Gross doing a story on the “convoy of Death”

    Have criticized Terri for continuing to endlessly repeat unsubstantiated claims about Iran and the Iranian President but sure glad that she is shedding light on the “Convoy of Death”

    Amy Goodman covered the “Convoy of Death” as soon as the documentary came out.

    wonder if Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews,Olbermann or any of the other talking heads will ever report about the “Convoy”
    I mean Chris and Rachel keep going on and on about the “birthers” and “Sarah Palin” Will they ever report anything at all about the “convoy”

    Chicken shits

  16. SaltinWound says:

    One more way this story could be spin:

    The commutation, as opposed to a pardon, worked out well for Cheney. What if he wasn’t really fighting like hell to get a pardon for Libby? What if that’s the cover story Bush and Cheney agreed to? It never made sense to me that Cheney would want Libby pardoned, making it more likely Libby could be forced to testify against Cheney. This was the best possible result for Cheney, but we’re meant to believe he’s mad because he wanted more?

    • Rayne says:

      Which has occurred to me: this puff piece also plays into that same game of “monkey-in-the-middle” by painting Bush and Cheney in solidly opposing camps which would never have met on the matter of a pardon.

      Instead of agreeing out of line of sight that a commutation would achieve the goals of keeping Scooter out of jail while preventing Scooter from being forced to testify against both of them.

      • klynn says:

        while preventing Scooter from being forced to testify against both of them.

        I’d say we better keep our eyes on Mrs. Libby for a response should the interview show Libby was hung out to dry by both Cheney and Bush.

      • emptywheel says:

        While I’m agnostic on that front (I really could see Cheney pushing a pardon on the principle that Libby didn’t break the law), that would make an interesting story if Cheney actually undercut Libby in his soon-to-be-public Fitz interview.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:


        And remember that one of the “Lessons Learned” from Iran Contra was ‘run it out of the VP’s office’. What was ‘it’, exactly?

        And Bush knew from watching Poppy how to keep his fingerprints off of things. GW Bush was close to Enron. Ken Lay was on Cheney’s Private Energy Task Force. Enron was helping fund a pipeline to Caspian. And Bush didn’t know anything about any of it? What a crock.

        But if Judge R. Jackson hadn’t required the press to turn over their sources, ‘the plan’ (whatever it was) very likely could still have been pulled off.

        Although there’s still something about Chalabi being discovered ‘planting evidence’ of WMD in Iraq that has to be one huge Missing Piece of the Puzzle.

      • Rayne says:

        Yeah, I guess I saw the briar patch but forgot about replying, my bad.

        It doesn’t seem like anybody in Cheney’s camp was pushing the briar patch for this Calabresi/Weisskopf feature, though, more like it was Bush’s camp pushing the idea that Bush and Cheney are sooo very far apart on this matter…

        Although the story slips a bit when they note that on everything else save for the question of pardon, Cheney was the man and could play Bush like a meat puppet.

        Funny how Bush got a spine just that one time.

        • sojourner says:

          I just cannot help but wonder if this is not something that will find its way into Bush’s memoirs so he can assert that he stood up for the rule of law. It is so typical of how these people have spun things — get a fluff piece out there (never mind what the real facts are), and then point to it as verification of what they want people to believe.

          Bush wants to look like a hero, and knows he is not — his presidency was a total failure. Now, he is willing to do anything to make himself look better in my opinion.

          • Rayne says:

            Well, there were others who also have a vested interest in spinning Dubya’s administration in a positive light.

            Like those “former Bush aides” cited in the article; are they looking to have their own cred polished and shined for future consumption?

        • esseff44 says:

          About getting a spine that one time: He ran out the clock. He didn’t give his final answer until it was too late and Cheney could not keep bugging him about it. And that was after all his big power legal advisors were advising against it.

          One of the more interesting parts of the story was how Fielding put a hook into the commutation to make it difficult to revisit it for a pardon.

          • emptywheel says:

            Except that even that is inaccurate. WHen he announced the commutation, Bush specifically said he was still totally undecided on pardon.

          • Rayne says:

            You know, I don’t remember (although I should) whether Fielding has strong ties to the elder Bush and James Baker. I’ve often wondered whether the elders not only stepped in and severed Cheney’s death grip on Bush with the Iraq Study Group, but they saved Dubya’s ass yet again with some key interventions — and Fielding may have been one of them.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              It makes sense that Fielding went in to save GWBush’s ass, at the behest of the Bush43 gang. Fielding goes all the way back to the Nixon WH and Watergate.

              But the Iraq Study Group seems to have put Junya in a pissy mood. He was defiant about it; something must have happened to make him call for help.

              I’m with William Ockham that this TIME article is about the Bush crowd throwing Cheney under the bus; but one of the (many) things that I don’t understand is:

              – Does this mean that in the bigger picture, Saudi’s + Bush43 are throwing Cheney + neocons under the bus? If so, why?
              And why now?

              I’m with William Ockham, who poses the question:
              It’s all about establishing a narrative for the beltway crowd. The question is pre-emptive against what, exactly.

  17. MadDog says:

    I personally think this Time/Bushco story is about this:

    Cheney was, and continutes to be, afraid that Scooter throws him under the bus without a pardon.

    Because Scooter is still sitting out there with his income draw crippled for life, his personal reputation in tatters forever, and continuing to stew about just what it means to be “loyal” (i.e. the cost of being kept in the meat grinder)

    BushCo sees an opportunity to pawn all of this off on Cheney.

    They see all the political and legal fire being directed at Cheney, the “most hated man in the country”.

    All the myriad illegalities leading directly back to Cheney like torture, black hole prison sites, warrantless wiretapping, non-notification of Congress, and on and on.

    So what does JunyaCo do?

    For heaven’s sake, let’s take advantage of this by piling it all on Cheney. What’s Cheney going to do about it? Finger Junya?

    Then it will be the word of the “most hated man in the country” against that of a “poor ol’ country boy”.

    Cheney, as part of his devil’s bargain, got to play at his wet dream of being the real power behind the throne, and in return, Junya got to play at his continuing life-long habitual wet dream/reality of bad boy entitlement without any consequences.

    I’m betting there are far few provable Junya fingerprints on stuff than there are Cheney fingerprints.

    And JunyaCo knows it!

  18. bobschacht says:

    Rayne @ 13 (response formatting features not available because my browser is hanging, waiting for ”transferring data from…”)

    ”Is somebody worried they’re going to lose access to Bush should the manure hit the oscillator? Why are they doing a beat sweetener postmortem?”

    Maybe they’ve calculated that Bush is liable to be around for many more years than Cheney, and they figure that Jeb is a more potent political asset than BabyDick. Heck, Poppy may outlast PapaDick. So they’re currying favor with the Bush clan, keeping an eye on Jeb.

    Bob in HI

    • Rayne says:

      Hey Bob, assuming you’re a WinPC user like me you might try a few things that will help your user experience, just had my tech guy “clean up” my system to get rid of the hang time. It was fine first thing in the morning every day, but as the day progressed (until I rebooted), the machine would slow down regardless of whether I used Firefox or Chrome browsers.

      – Clear your browser(s) cache;
      – Run two different anti-spyware/anti-malware programs and ditch all tracking cookies;
      – Run your antivirus;
      – Delete all unnecessary temp files;
      – Check to see if you have only one and latest version of Java running (this seemed to be the biggest problem, every past version was still hanging around);
      – Run disk defrag until you are under 1% defragmentation.

      This will take care of most of the speed-sucking dust bunnies, has worked for me. I may need to do this every couple of weeks but it’s helped a lot.

      • PJEvans says:

        It’s the ads in the sidebar. I was just waiting for the site, while a video ad loaded and ran.

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah, it’s the ads, but while you’re waiting for them to load, they may be using Java script and running into conflicts depending on how many versions your system retains. My tech guy found that Java was auto-updating properly, but not removing the older versions. The ads also launch scripts for the cookies at the same time; if you’ve got a lot of duplications in cookies, it could take a while for them to stop pinging their home base.

          All reasons why I liked’s ad-free paid subscription model; was worth it to me not to have to deal with ads.

  19. Rayne says:

    bmaz (78) –

    Too expensive for the performance. Smaller universe of software.

    My solution was to buy a Linux machine to use when my older WinXP system is getting housecleaning.

    For the price of the two machines combined, I still couldn’t buy a Mac.

  20. plunger says:

    “Bush had declared that anyone involved in leaking Plame’s identity would be fired.”

    Actually, I don’t believe that Bush ever said those words, and I did listen closely.

    Bush said THIS:

    “If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.”

    Bush did for Scooter precisely what he told everyone that he would do. He took care of him.

    The bigger question that I have is how an entire society allowed Bush to use those exact words without requesting clarification with a simple follow-up question. How is it that everyone assumed Bush stated that he would fire Libby, when he never said it?

    • fatster says:

      Too many members of our “entire society” get their nooze through the tee vee. They do not have inquiring minds and are typically satisfied with whatever the nooze is dishing out.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        They all read their medical bills.
        Not sure how many saw ‘Sicko’ in theatre, but I’ll bet DVD rentals were pretty good.

        And that doesn’t count email communications.

  21. fatster says:

    My apologies for this is waaaaay off topic, but I want to provide this link for those of you who are also interested in the “War on Drugs” and how destructive it has been on our society and Civil Rights. The fellow giving this talk before the NAACP is very dynamic.

  22. Mary says:

    EW @ 29 I can’t get a link to a transcript from that report – the hot link on “transcript from last weeks hearing” goes to another story. Do you know if the transcript is online?

    OT — but much related to many things going on…..97,00.html

    Link is to a story on a ruling by a German court with respect to a parliamentary committee and information not provided to it. In connection with such cases as Kurnaz and el-Masri a committee was estabished by parliament: ” in April 2006 to investigate accusations that German secret service agents had assisted the US secret services in transporting, questioning and otherwise dealing with those captured during and after the Iraq war

    But the Exec branch proceeded to limit what witnesses could say to the committee and what docs the committee could see, “for the good of the state.” The German court found that those machinations, “breached the right of the Bundestag to have the information it needed to carry out its investigation

    Apparently “central elements of executive responsiblity” and “good of the state” don’t cut it in Germany, only here in the US. At least one country learned a lesson from WWII.

    Also – I either saw this and have already completely forgotten it (bc it is pretty doomed with Obama and HOlder in charge) or missed it before, but in addtion to the Italian case going on now, apparently the el-Masri case generated a demand from the German court last month for turnover of the CIA agent-torturers.…..61,00.html

    Public prosecutors in Munich, with the approval of the German cabinet, on Monday demanded the extradition of the 13 CIA agents allegedly involved in kidnapping Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, in 2003.

    The court had ordered the arrest of the agents earlier this year, but the case was delayed while German officials investigated their real names.

    “We now have partial names,” Chief Public Prosecutor August Stern told Reuters, adding that he had enough information on the agents’ identities to request their extradition.

  23. Mary says:

    EW – you’ve got the timelines. What are the chances Fitzgerald had a second meeting with Cheney in Oct? Was he there, then? It’s such an odd thing to put in if it is flat out contradicted by the record.

    • emptywheel says:

      Nil, I think. Because if he had, then it’d mean DOJ was lying to someone. I just find it completely impossible that Congress would have subpoenaed and CREW FOIAed docs and DOJ would not reveal there were two sets.

      • Mary says:

        OK – I never really looked at the text of the requests and wondered if there might have been some follow up in Oct that might not have had a direct bearing on the prosecution of Libby, but more so on the overall investigation parameters. Maybe follow upon what Cheney said earlier that was beginning to look incorrect, even if it were not related to the Libby case in chief.

        Very strange mistake, then.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Mary, I don’t know whether you double-checked EW’s Ghorbanifar Timeline, but if I look at listings for May and June 2004:

          May 2004: FBI catches Franklin leaking sensitive information and flips him

          May 20, 2004: US raids Chalabi’s Iraqi compound

          June 2, 2004: NYT reports that Chalabi alerted Iran that US had SigInt code

          June 8, 2004: SSCI staff interview with DIA employees

          June 10, 2004: SSCI staff interviews former DIA Director Wilson

          (I assume that the SSCI staff was interviewing DIA to determine whether they had the identical — or different — info about Iraqi WMD as the WarMonger Fantastists in Dougie Feith’s OSP. However, this is mere speculation on my part.)

          And then October 2004:
          September-October 2004: Through Michael Ledeen’s intercession, Plato Cacheris agrees to represent Franklin pro bono

          Don’t know whether this is what you were looking for, but FWIW…

    • WilliamOckham says:

      All of this is speculative, but the article strikes me as a pre-emptive strike by the Bush legacy team. It’s all about establishing a narrative for the beltway crowd. The question is pre-emptive against what, exactly. As you suggest in the post, the most likely answer is the release of the Cheney FBI interview. I think the key ‘graph is this one:

      And there was a darker possibility. As a former Bush senior aide explains, “I’m sure the President and [chief of staff] Josh [Bolten] and Fred had a concern that somewhere, deep in there, there was a cover-up.” It had been an article of faith among Cheney’s critics that the Vice President wanted a pardon for Libby because Libby had taken the fall for him in the Fitzgerald probe. In his grand-jury testimony reviewed by TIME, Libby denied three times that Cheney had directed him to leak Plame’s CIA identity in mid-2003. Though his recollection of other events in the same time frame was lucid and detailed, on at least 20 occasions, Libby could not recall details of his talks with Cheney about Plame’s place of employment or questions the Vice President raised privately about Wilson’s credibility. Some Bush officials wondered whether Libby was covering up for Cheney’s involvement in the leak of Plame’s identity.

      This article is the Bush crowd throwing Cheney under the bus. I wonder if they gave Time the wrong date just to establish whether or not the reporters would be total stenographers. I mean there is so much in the article that is really laughably, demonstrably wrong. Like:

      Bush had long approached pardons with suspicion. As Texas governor, he granted them sparingly. His reluctance stemmed not from a lack of mercy but from his sense that pardons were a rigged game

      That’s so stupid, I don’t even want to comment. Just google Bush “Karla Faye Tucker” “Tucker Carlson”.

    • maryo2 says:

      Strange mistake means look into the authors. Weisskopf not so interesting. Calabresi is interesting because “Libby’s lawyers sought communications between Matthew Cooper and Massimo Calabresi” – from wiki

      Does Calabresi have personal interest in moving the date of the Cheney interview from June to October?

      • emptywheel says:

        Cheney’s interview was May, not June (or October), according to the recent DOJ FOIA declaration.

        Calabresi was one of the co-authors on the article where Cooper revealed he had gotten the Plame leak as well.

        • maryo2 says:

          That mistake is too big. Can the author be reached for comment? Can Time write a correction?

  24. Civlibertarian says:

    Minor typo? “Time doesn’t blink at the story that Bush’s felt the need to consult” (extra apostrophe s?).

  25. rosalind says:

    bush was whingeing to obama on the way to the inauguration?

    He (Richard Wolffe) tells us that President George W. Bush told Obama, during an Inauguration Day limousine ride, that his final days in office were plagued by friends lobbying him for pardons, and that despite Vice President Dick Cheney’s pressing for a full pardon for his former chief of staff I. Lewis Libby Jr., Bush felt, as Wolffe puts it, that “he had done more than enough for someone convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice after leaking the name of a C.I.A. official.”

    who was wolffe’s source, obama?

  26. maryo2 says:

    wiki says that Weisskopf wrote a book about the Kenneth Starr investigation of the Lewinsky scandal. His personal interest in bringing up the affect of the Lewinski blowjob (heh) on Bush in the Time article was to promote his book or flaunt his immense knowledge. That’s reasonable of him.

  27. maryo2 says:

    Did y’all see Cheney’s response today posted at Time:

    “Scooter Libby is an innocent man who was the victim of a severe miscarriage of justice. He was not the source of the leak of Valerie Plame’s name. Former Deputy Secretary of State, Rich Armitage, leaked the name and hid that fact from most of his colleagues, including the President. Mr. Libby is an honorable man and a faithful public servant who served the President, the Vice President and the nation with distinction for many years. He deserved a presidential pardon.”

    • MadDog says:

      I couldn’t find it over at Time, but MSNBC has Cheney’s response.

      And yes, EW, it is working!

      I’m always amazed at MSM’s gullibility. Or is it just another example of a willingness to define a side they wish to be on, and then stick to it regardless of the truth?

      As in:

      Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
      Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

    • Bison says:

      It’s so frustrating so see it being implied over and over again that Libby was convicted of outing Plame. Obviously it makes it a lot easier to paint Scooter as an innocent victim, but whether or not Armitage outed her first is completely irrelevant to Libby’s obstruction of justice.

      [edit]…a point that I see esseff44 just made a few minutes ago…

  28. MadDog says:

    And a small, but important addition to what EW quoted from the Time piece:

    …If the presidential staff were polled, the result would be 100 to 1 against a pardon, Bush joked. Then he turned to Sharp. “What’s the bottom line here? Did this guy lie or not?”

    The lawyer, who had followed the case very closely, replied affirmatively.

    Bush indicated that he had already come to that conclusion too.

    “O.K., that’s it,” Bush said…

    (My Bold)

    This wording from the BushCo sources provides the following information:

    Explicit – Scooter lied (to Fitzgerald).
    Implicit – Cheney lied (to Bush).

    Mr. Hands-on (Cheney) and Mr. Hands-off clean (Bush) is the meme Time is selling.

    Note that I’m not saying that BushCo speaks the whole truth and nothing but the truth here, but just that this is the story that BushCo wants the world to believe.

  29. emptywheel says:

    Thanks–it’s an important point, too, given that Cheney’s interview is likely to come out soon without Bush’s.

    Say the interview shows Cheney saying Bush authorized him to leak whatever he needed to leak (which is close to Libby’s line that Cheney wanted to get everything out.

    But now Bush is already on the record saying Cheney lied.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Yes, Bush is on the record saying that.

      But Elliott Abrams is also on the record — noting that the ‘lessons’ of Iran-Contra showed that ‘it’ needed to be run out of OVP.

      For as dumb as Bush so often looked (and I got sucked in as well), he was a pal of Ken Lay, he enabled the kind of reckless ‘deregulation’ that Enron exploited, and his right-hand guy Rove was leaking right the very days that Scooter was leaking.

      Looks like the BushCorleoneFamily is counting on a whole lot of people to keep their omerta.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Bush has no language problems – and speaks as correctly as any other graduate of that school in New Haven – when it comes to things that matter to him personally: estate and gift taxes, baseball, gutting SEC, IRS and other regulations that require companies to disclose their business operations and their profits and losses.

          Beyond that, he doesn’t much care and speaks as fluently as he thinks.

    • MadDog says:

      I think this is a deliberate image rehabilitation intention of BushCo. Any blame that surfaces publicly, they’re going to lay off onto Cheney.

      I’m not suggesting this will be successful, as there are too many even in our stenography-compromised MSM that know full well that this spin doesn’t fit the facts, but telling a tall tale has always been a time-honored BushCo tradition.

  30. emptywheel says:

    So far it’s working like a charm–MSNBC has covered it on every news story today, unquestioningly.

    Thing is the narrative works. Everyone knows that Cheney was in the middle of this. People are ignoring Bush’s alleged role (according to Cheney and Libby), which has to be part of the story whether or not Cheney and Libby were lying about THAT. So it’s working.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      So far it’s working like a charm–MSNBC has covered it on every news story today, unquestioningly.

      Oh, lordy.

      You’d think at least the one network that actually paid the most attention to Plame, let alone Tweety (who was told **by Rove** that Valerie Plame was ‘fair game’) would not let itself get rolled like a pack of kindergarteners.

      I’m with MD@129: this is a deliberate rehab effort.
      And after all, why wouldn’t a guy who went AWOL from his plumb flight school duties stateside assume that he’ll continue to escape culpability?

      And once a narrative takes hold, it’s hard to switch it.
      The more it’s repeated, the more believed it will be.

      What to do….?

      • MadDog says:

        In the end, I think this is an important watershed story. Not for what it says, but for what it means!

        The rats are coming out of their holes, and the victim they’ve chosen is Cheney.

        Cheney, too, is aware of this. Note his response. Claiming that Scooter is innocent when he knows full well that the entire world knows otherwise.

        This is not a sign of strength, but a whimper of weakness. A reality-denying moment that no sane person will accept. It makes Cheney appear feeble-minded, if not totally delusional.

        And I’m not surprised that the BushCo sources who’ve known Cheney so intimately over the last 8 years have taken this tack. Who would be better placed to understand Cheney’s flaws? And who would be better to exploit them?

        The worst damage that can be done to someone is not from one’s enemies, but from one’s “friends”.

        • esseff44 says:

          Notice that in Cheney’s response to the Time fairy tale, he once again declares Libby innocent of something he wasn’t charged with… the leak itself. Cheney could have testified on behalf of Libby if he knew he was innocent of the other charges. Under oath.

  31. maryo2 says:

    As a Cheney confidant puts it , the Vice President believed he and the President could claim the war on terrorism as his greatest legacy only if they defended at all costs the men and women who fought in the trenches.”

    Who uses the words “in the trenches” to describe Libby, but not to describe Lyndie England and the 16 others who got “bad appled”?

    And in whose eyes was Plame not a woman in the trenches, but Judith Miller was?

    And how many “confidants” does Cheney have? Maybe three.

    Weisskopf got his damned hand blown off in Iraq. I doubt he accepts “in the trenches” to mean anything other than physically in war.

  32. maryo2 says:

    This Bush CYA tidbit below was placed in the article, too. It looks like Bush is getting out in front of the CIA lying to Congress story before we learn that he approved of withholding information from Congress.

    “Bush instructed aides in 2005 to begin to seek congressional approval for some of the Administration’s most controversial programs, such as its terrorist-detention policies.”

    • MadDog says:

      Not only the “CIA lying to Congress story”, but also the “Cheney forbade the CIA from telling Congress” story.

      As in Cheney did it! He did all the illegal stuff the Bush Administration has been accused of. Cheney did it all!

      It’s a heckuva fairy-tale, and it will become the MSM’s “truth”.

  33. emptywheel says:

    I’m not entirely convinced of that. There’s always the possibility that this is the convenient narrative to cover what both Bush and CHeney want: Libby’s continued silence.

    • MadDog says:

      I’m still leaning in the direction that BushCo believes Scooter does more harm to Cheney than to Bush, and that CheneyCo believes this too.

      Note: CheneyCo today only consists of PapaDick, Lynne of Sharp Tongue and Deaf Ears, BabyDick and David Addington. Scooter used to be on the team, but alas he no longer returns CheneyCo’s calls.

      Bush had his interactions with Cheney, not with Scooter, so BushCo can do the old “he said, he said” song and dance with regard to the Bush/Cheney crimes.

      Cheney got his desired hands-on control of the levers of power, and with it, he left his fingerprints all over everything.

  34. Gitcheegumee says:

    Just this a.m.,WITH OUT being aware of this thread,I was googling Scooter Libby.

    I was curious if Libby could have been an Americanized version of the Arab surname Labbi or Libbi.

    Imagine my surprise when I learned his birth name was Leibovitz.

  35. Teddy Partridge says:

    Rachel covering this story now, but I’m sure she will miss the nuance (read: truth) that Marcy explains so succinctly.

      • MadDog says:

        I’d have preferred the acknowledged expert EW as Rachel’s go-to person on this topic.

        While I “enjoyed” Barton’s book, I found him to be far too deferential to Cheney.

        It’s as if the inside-the-Beltway reporters take Cheney’s obvious paranoia and megalomania as par for the DC course.

        For normal folks outside the Beltway, this man was/is in serious need of mucho meds and probably hospitalization, if not for his well-being, certainly at least for ours.

        That said, I welcome Rachel and Barton making this more public.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          While I “enjoyed” Barton’s book, I found him to be far too deferential to Cheney.

          For those of us who have followed the crimes, sure. And probably for more than a few in DC whose careers have been damaged by Cheney. But IMHO, Gellman wrote it in a way that might prompt a wider range of readers to pick up the book (It has a page-turner quality that ‘Anatomy of Deceit‘ and good novels have — where you just find yourself so dumbfounded that you can’t put the damn thing down.)

          Like you, I welcome more people paying attention to what Cheney did, but then also considering what it implies about Bush43.

          I’m hoping fervently that the “Plame” movie will generate more public dot-connecting and outrage.

    • Leen says:

      When the hell is Rachel going to have our favorite Marcy on. Does she think Marcy will steal the show?

  36. hychka says:

    The Libby thing is back, again!

    Don’t get me started!

    I’ll be brief.

    “I write to ask that you sentence I. “Scooter” Libby to the toughest sentences you feel are warranted when an officer of the court and an assistant to the President and Vice President of the United States of America is convicted on several counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying under oath to Federal Bureau of Investigation officers and a federal grand jury in a matter related to the disclosure of the identity of a covert agent of the Central Intelligence Agency during a time of war.

    “The message sent by this man’s actions and the posturing of his cronies that Mr. Libby has been convicted wrongfully for innocent misstatements, at most legal technicalities, is an appalling approval of outrageous behavior that undermines the justice system and undermines faith in government.”

    That’s what I asked the judge and what I believe.

    You go, emptywheel!!

  37. milly says:

    Won’t ever forget Libby and Timmy Russert going around on crutches during the trial. Mathew Cooper had a spooked look on his face all the time.

  38. questioneverything says:

    Hate to say it but all of this gives Holder and Obama cover to do nothing, which is exactly what they’ve wanted all along. There will never be any prosecution for ANYTHING Bushco did in eight years because all currently elected officials are too damn scared for their political lives to hold the former residents of 1600 Pennsylvania responsible for anything. If anybody from the Obama white house can argue with that, then show me some action. Talk is cheap, and there isn’t much of that.

  39. rapier says:

    The only thing that doesn’t calculate is why doesn’t Cheney realize that the commutation was the best outcome? Admittedly by this January the chance that Libby would ever have to testify about this were getting pretty small and smaller by the day but still, why risk it?

    Cheney has nothing to lose from this story, true or false. It shows his loyalty, to his guys not the little guy with the big desk, and that’s a winner with his crowd, and the base if you get right down to it.

    As for it helping make Bush look good. Who is kidding themselves here?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      As for it helping make Bush look good. Who is kidding themselves here?

      If the BushCo loyalists make it appear that Cheney was running rogue (and he may have been to some extent, but when you add in Enron, plus oil-and-gas, plus Ken Lay on the Energy Task Force, plus the guy who Bush appointed to the Intel Oversight Group — who’s an old Bush family connection and has land along the border with Mexico, and … there are just so many linkages that it’s not plausible Bush was completely ignorant. And when you add in Elliott Abram’s “Lessons Learned” from Iran-Contra, where they’d deliberately planned to run ‘it’** out of OVP, then you figure that it was designed to protect the Pres and he knew it. And he’s still following that blueprint: “it” happened out of OVP, blame Cheney.

      Thus does ‘the most important man in the world’ (snark!) get off scot-free for being able to act as if he knew nothing at all about new torture policies, no-bid contracts, hundreds of meetings between Rove and Abramoff, GOP money laundering, etc, etc, etc. There is simply too much filth for GW Bush to be ‘innocent’.

      But I’m staunchly with MadDog @ 135: this means something.
      Rats are squeaking and trying to find cover.
      That’s a change; here’s hoping for much more on that front.

      ** whatever “it” was; I still don’t think we have a grasp. Nor do we actually know who “they” were who wanted to run “it”.

  40. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Never misunderestimate the benefits of controlling the narrative. Historians have short memories, never mind teevee news or the general public.

  41. zgveritas says:

    Hmmm. Bush consulted with his attorney Sharp on the pardon. Who did he consult with on the commutation?

  42. foobar says:

    I just read the “the note Cheney wrote prior to that exoneration implicates Bush himself”. But i dont get the implication aspect. Can someone shed some lite?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Bush is trying to save his ass.
      There were a few, quiet little pointers during the Plame investigation that Fitz was after GWBush. To get to Bush, he needed to flip Rove (or so I understood). But Rove never was indicted; at some point, Rove’s atty ended up at a party or a bar and ran into a reporter named Viveca Novak, who happened to drop the info (no doubt over drinks) that Rove was a source of the Plame leak. That probably enabled Rove’s atty to save Rove’s sleazy, amoral, lying ass — legally, at least.

      Recall that Rove testified FIVE times to the grand jury, and that an email that turned up somewhere else pointed directly to Rove’s involvement. Only after he was caught red-handed did his atty help Rove ‘find’ a few other emails — but conveniently, so many went missing that it’s hard to nail Rove’s ass legally.

      Then click on the 3 links provided by person1957 to see a few more examples of how Rove operates.

  43. scathew says:

    Yeah, I read this earlier and it’s another “Poor little Bush” story. The implication, which it does not address, is that Bush was “so out of it” that he had no clue what was going on and was clearly not qualified to be President.

    I suspect the reality may be somewhere in between – he is both more savvy and knew a lot more than people like Time give him credit for, but also was so apathetic as to be unqualified.

    I’d be willing to put up with these “puff pieces” (because that’s what they are) if they were willing to deal with the implication – that he was a horrible President no matter how you look at it. Either he should have known what was going on, and was remiss, or he knew what was going on and is lying.

    Certainly we know he lied, which they don’t point out, in saying he would fire those involved.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I suspect the reality may be somewhere in between – he is both more savvy and knew a lot more than people like Time give him credit for, but also was so apathetic as to be unqualified.

      Well, I’m not one of the major minds around these parts, so take what I write with a very, very large grain of salt.

      The ‘poor Bush, he was so dumb’ meme lets GWBush off the hook, but by doing that it also shifts blame and culpability away from his many, many enablers: Texas oil interests, Enron-related players, Rove and his GOP ilk, Abramoff, and too many others to list here.

      That’s why it’s being put out.
      Why not blame Cheney? In contrast, GWB seems to inept, so unqualified, so ‘captured’ by his VP.

      As if all these hundreds of asshats didn’t know going in to this that GWBush was a lightweight? What a load of shit these people try to dump on all of us, eh?

      There is, however, another way to view this — but I’m not a credentialed psych nor medical professional of any kind. But I do have a very strong in interest in adult learning disabilities, and these often turn out to overlap substance abuse and some newly-discovered, newly-intriguing forms of what might generally be called ‘ADHD’ (Attention Deficit Disorders) — which is looking like a lose term. It does **NOT** imply any kind of criminal conduct; there are Harvard Med School profs with ADHD, so people with some of this very wide range of attention and focus issues can be absolutely sterling, terrific, productive people (they just need to figure out what works best for their thinking and learning styles).

      However, as researchers also try to better understand what might be called ’social pathologies’, one of the issues in addiction and in antisocial behaviors **may** be that people who don’t focus well need an extra ‘thrill’ in order to sharpen their attention.

      So it’s worth noting that GWBush, who is 60 and grew up in an age before learning disabilities were frequently diagnosed, and who has a reported history of learning disabilities and also of being disruptive in class, fits what you might want to look for: a guy who’s a risk-taker (oil exploration would fit this, as would seeking out fighter pilot training), and a thrill-seeker.

      When you see those kinds of behaviors — and most people have them to one degree or another — there’s a point at which some people just seem to act recklessly. Repeatedly. They don’t seem to learn from their mistakes very quickly.

      That doesn’t make them stupid, necessarily.
      The questions around **why** they don’t learn are complicated, but part of it appears to involve their pattern of ‘boredom’ and also an outsized ego that is based on very little real accomplishment. They’re braggarts, and they have a completely unrealistic sense of their own importance, their own competence, their own ability to make good decisions.

      That makes them reckless within organizations, and other places as well. Very few people have the family resources of a GWBush to keep bailing their asses out.

      But when GWBush told the CIA briefer out in Crawford, “Okay, you’ve covered your ass now”, just before 9-11, that’s very suggestive of a person who has little real empathy, and a very outsized view of his own abilities. But a **huge** ego.

      So when something goes radically wrong, he’s working so hard to protect his own ego (which he seems to have mixed up with the USA) that he’s likely to behave erratically, unpredictably, and IMPULSIVELY — thereby, making a series of ever-more dreadful decisions.

      This kind of individual is also not very good at learning from their errors, because their emotions are so unstable that they can’t just sit back and look at things objectively. It’s always, in the end ‘about them’. About their reputation, their appearance, their bank account, their status…

      This kind of individual is also likely to rely on people who are expedient (see Rove, K-k-k-karl and Cheney, Dick). Because they are impulsive, they tend to be bored UNLESS they take very large risks, they tend to be very erratic in their behavior — and they also tend to have histories of substance abuse.

      Anyway, I’m going on far too long because we’re in EPU land and I don’t think anyone but maybe 3 people may end up reading this, but here’s my summary:

      1. The pattern of behavior to which I refer is looking like it’s fairly typical of anti-social people: big ego based on no real achievement, erratic, don’t really ‘focus’ unless they have ‘high stakes’ (war! axis of evil!), and a history of substance abuse.

      2. The pattern of behavior is one that GWBush probably tried heroically to overcome. He had a history of drinking, and in talking with a couple AA members who seem to have a lot of insight into GWBush, his hard-core religion helped him avoid booze, and note that he had a very strict daily regimine and went to bed early (a strategy that’s helpful for steering clear of old, bad drinking habits). GWBush tried to deal with his drinking.

      3. What does it say about the Bush family, the Bush consiglieres, and the GOP — AND the media!!! — that a man with these erratic patterns, who had a pattern of blaming others, was allowed to run for the Presidency?

      4. If you were a jackass who didn’t give a shit about the USA, but needed someone in office to do your ‘bidding’, you’d love to have an egotistical, ambitious, handsome, sociable, guy that would be easy to control. Because GWBush, like many people who do bad things, is fundamentally lazy UNLESS he can be the center of attention — at least, that’s the pattern that seems to show up repeatedly.

      5. Anti-social egoists are lazy UNLESS they can be the center of attention, unless they can be the imaginary Go2Guy. Then, they get active, until something goes wrong. At that point, it is **never, ever** their fault; their egos are too fragile. They can’t admit their own mistakes, so they don’t learn. They are terrible learners, so they kind of live out their lives in ignorance (see Ensign, John).

      6. A guy like I’m describing would seem to be heaven-sent to people who have agendas, but need to stay out of the limelight. They need an egotistical, ambitious guy like GWBush. He’s like a racehorse they bet on: he’ll let them run the show as long as he can be the center of attention and get the adoration that he craves, because he’s never interested in the details of running an organization or a government.

      So the Bush family still has plenty of connections, and they want to restore the family name (after all, they probably hope Jebbie can run and somehow complete whatever agenda they have in mind).

      What we seem to be seeing are a bunch of people who were collassally irresponsible to even let GWBush run for the Presidency; his personal history had ‘trouble’, written all over it. But the oil companies did very well (gas was about $20/barrel when he took office, and over $140 July 2008). So did Big Finance. So did international interests.

      They’re all hiding behind him, and blaming him.
      And now he’s blaming Cheney.

      And TIME is helping put up the wall between those of us whose pension plans have been hit, whose medical bills have skyrocketed, yadda, yadda… and they’re helping nail up the veil. “Blame Cheney” is clearly the operative plan for the moment.

      Don’t look into oil revenues: blame Cheney.
      Don’t ask how we could back an erratic, egotistical jerk for President: blame Cheney.
      Don’t ask how OVP managed to subvert uniformed military and implement Gitmo: blame Cheney.
      Don’t ask how USAGs got fired out of the WH: blame Cheney.
      Don’t ask how the economy went so sidewise because SEC was a fiction and regulation didn’t happen: blame Cheney.

      Cheney’s a horror, but TIME offers him up as our nice, shiny object.
      And so all the systemic issues get ignored.

      This comment was wayyyyyyyyyyyy too long, but we’re in EPU land and so I don’t think even 4 people are likely to stumble on it.

      Final comment, though: suppose you were a corporate HR manager. And you had an egotistical, fun, enthusiastic, ambitious guy like GWBush. He didn’t perform, and he always blamed others for his lapses. Don’t you think that you’d have to look farther than simply going after the person that HE blamed for all the fuckups that happened in his division?
      If you only looked where he told you to look, they should fire your ass because you’re not doing your job.

      • Rayne says:

        Nice, worthy of a Seminal post by itself.

        But you forgot one piece:

        Don’t ask us (the media, who failed at our jobs as Fourth Estate); blame Cheney.

        It’s one of the single biggest reasons we’re still talking about Cheney and his life outside of prison. It was always easier to make a really unsympathetic character like Cheney into the bogey man instead of doing the work required to show exactly how many minor bogeys were involved.