Fitzgerald: Not a Runaway Prosecutor, Explained Simply

I wanted to elaborate on the Armitage post I did earlier, showing that (contrary to the wails of the Libby Lobby), Fitzgerald did not pursue Libby while ignoring the Novak leak. In addition to the inconsistencies in Armitage’s Novak story, in fall 2004, there remained inconsistencies in the Rove Novak story and–I would submit–the Libby Novak story.

As I explained earlier, in August 2004, Fitzgerald had identified the following inconsistencies in Armitage’s Novak story:

Novak and Armitage agree on several importantfacts, such as the time, date and place of the meeting during which theconversation took place, and the fact that Wilson’s wife and employment by theCIA was disclosed to Novak by Armitage in response to a question by novak as towhy the CIA had sent Wilson on the trip. Their testimony diverges as to whetherArmitage provided the first name of Ms. Plame, though both agree the last name,“Plame” was not provided. Novak recalls being told by Armitage that Wilson’swife worked in the area of weapons of mass destruction –[redacted] Armitagedoes not recall discussing the area in which Wilson’s wife worked. Novak andArmitage give differing accounts of other materials not germane to the instantmotion. The investigation of Armitage’s conduct is ongoing. [my emphasis]

There’s one more that was not yet identified, too:

Armitage testified that he did not recalldiscussing Wilson’s wife’s employment with any reporter other than Novak priorto July 14,2003, and specifically denied any recollection of discussing thematter with Cooper or any of his Time colleagues.

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  1. LS says:

    I’m bothered still by the use of â€Flameâ€. It would be easy to find out Valerie Wilson’s first name, but since both Miller and Novak used â€Flame†– Miller in her notes, and subsequently Novak in an article; is it not possible that the leakers were saying, I can’t tell you her CIA name, because that would be a crime, but I will tell you that it rhymes with â€Flame†go figure it out. So when they were questioned during the investigation, they could all say, no her name was not given to me, I never heard Valerie â€Plameâ€. Just a thought.
    Then, for some bizarre reason Specter calls her Valerie Flame last Sunday on CNN with Wolf Blitzer.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would suggest that we can now see the origins of Cheney’s â€meat grinder†comment. If Libby had been instructed to be the â€firewall†and simply lie as expedient to the FBI and Grand Jury, then this actually â€freed†Rove to do exactly what he’s done, which was to change his testimony repeatedly like a kite bouncing in the wind, adjusting it again and again until the last minute (the time of the LIbby indictment). In my opinion this was an intentional arrangement, hence Cheney’s anger.

  3. dalloway says:

    I keep thinking about how Fitzgerald must feel — about the thousands of grueling hours he and his team spent brilliantly prosecuting a case that, at bottom, is about treason and abuse of power at the highest levels of government. How does Fitzgerald feel about the worst president in our history getting to rip all that to shreds WITH NO CONSEQUENCES WHATSOEVER? And let’s remember, these dedicated public servants make about one tenth the money lesser lawyers at private firms do. I marvel that Mr. Fitzgerald hasn’t resigned in disgust — probably because he knows that’s just what Bush and Abu Gonzalez want him to do.

  4. Sojourner says:

    Re: [email protected]:36 –

    I keep hoping and hoping that Fitzgerald or someone of his ilk will summon their patriotic energy to tell what they really know. It is much easier said than done, and I have to wonder what I would do — particularly with kids in school, and groceries to buy, and a mortgage to pay. The legal profession tends to frown on stepping out of line, and imposes heavy sanctions on those who do so.

    On the other hand, I think at this point that someone who did that would be hailed as a hero and true patriot, if for no other reason than to end this living nightmare. I think there are sufficient rewards that would be bestowed that might overcome the loss suffered. I don’t know about others, but I get so angry at the abuses that are taking place! Our country was a place where people could co-exist in peace, and have their own opinions. We really did stand for truth and justice, imperfect as they were.

    Now the truth is whatever our president and his minions tell us it is; justice is based on the friends one has in high places. We are imposing our beliefs about democracy on people who don’t really care — and bankrupting our nation.

    More than anything, I would like to see the hypocrisy end. President Chimpy does not have a clue about the real world, and I am tired of the lies and justifications.

    Let’s pray for a hero to show up!

  5. albert fall says:

    LS at 17:26

    See EW’s posts earlier this week on Cheney trying to manipulate Grenier with half-truths and feigned lack of knowledge.

    â€Flame†seems like an attempt to prompt the next person in the information chain to make a correction, while giving the starting point (Libby) a chance to say â€I never used her name.â€

  6. Ishmael says:

    EW – off topic, but I was wondering what you made of yesterday’s rather novel invocation by Fred Fielding of the President’s power to deem a person (such as Harriet Miers) immune from responding to a subpoena – immunity that was tradtionally reserved to the Crown itself in the person of the monarch. I was tantalized by what might have been going back and forth between Harriet’s counsel and Fielding – did Harriet tell them that she wouldn’t give half-assed answers, or even lies, as did Sara Taylor in her responses? In which case, she hid behind this legal theory? Could Harriet be the weak spot? Does she know things (and does HJC know about what to ask?) which wouldn’t remotely be ExPriv? John Dean has said that Harriet would not lie – I don’t know if he has a basis for this opinion or if it was simply professional courtesy, but again, it is tantalizing. FWIW, I sense this is a real weak spot, and HJC should keep hitting on Harriet like a drum.

  7. William Ockham says:

    I’m starting to wonder how much Novak knew before he talked to Armitage. If you look at what was going on with the WH Press corps on Air Force 1 and in Africa, there was a concerted attempt to get people to go ask â€Who Sent Wilson?†in hopes that Valerie Plame Wilson’s name would come out. Couple that with the â€Hold, Get Agency to Answer That†and Fleischer’s immunity agreement and you can certainly draw up a plausible theory of the crime.

  8. semiot says:

    Valerie was a flaming pain alright, a pain in the catspaws of Dick Cheney’s plan for world domination.

    After all we’ve been through, and after all your study, contemplation, and attention to this case EW, don’t you at the end of the day think that Dick Cheney went after Valerie specifically – to send a â€signal†to recalcitrant CIAers, AND to remove a key expert who told the truth too much? Dennis Kucinich, in his questioning of Valerie, got right up to the point of asking if she had ever met Dick Cheney – and Waxman cut him off.

    Crisis and opportunity. This is the Dick Cheney way. Attack, attack, always on the offense. When Condi had to admit that the 16 words were ill chosen, I distinctly remember thinking – now that is the first mistake this crew has admitted to. Cheney took that point of panic in the WH, and turned it to what ever advantage he could. At the top of his agenda was cutting off the pillow talk of one cheeky blonde. That is the story, IMHO, of L’Affaire Plame.

  9. radiofreewill says:

    Aces and Eights!

    Bush/Cheney and Libby/Rove

    Did:

    Bush authorize/Cheney order Libby to Leak Valerie’s Identity? Rove to Confirm?

    And:

    Bush authorize/Cheney order Rove to Leak (the contents of) Joe’s Trip Report Summary? Libby to Confirm?

    As part of a two-pronged campaign to Smear the Wilsons, and the CIA, to Reporters as nepotistic boondogglers with a political agenda?

    If the Reporters were Miller, Novak and Cooper then it would take six ’contacts’ to leak/confirm the two elements of the one Smear.

    Libby [leaks to] Miller on the 8th
    Libby [leaks to] Novak on the 9th (after the tip-off from patsy Armitage on the 8th)
    Libby [confirms to] Cooper on the 12th

    Rove/Libby? [confirms to] Miller on the 12th
    Rove [confirms to] Novak on the 9th
    Rove [leaks to] Cooper on the 11th

    The only problem with this is that Rove doesn’t appear to have ’confirmed’ Libby’s leak to Miller – instead, Libby appears to do the ’leaking’ on the 8th, and the ’confirming’ himself (or waiving-off of Miller writing a story, yet – they might want to see the impact of Novak’s article, first) on the 12th.

    In any case, is it The One Smear (the Plan of the Aces Bush and Cheney) using two then-classified elements (Valerie’s Identity and the Summary of Joe’s Trip Report) by the 8-balls Libby and Rove, told six times to Reporters as corroborating the BushCo Truth?

    If true, that would be a bad hand to be holding.

  10. prostratedragon says:

    LS: Then, for some bizarre reason Specter calls her Valerie Flame last Sunday on CNN with Wolf Blitzer.

    albert fall: LS at 17:26

    See EW’s posts earlier this week on Cheney trying to manipulate Grenier with half-truths and feigned lack of knowledge.

    â€Flame†seems like an attempt to prompt the next person in the information chain to make a correction, while giving the starting point (Libby) a chance to say â€I never used her name.â€

    Just saw what I think is a live example of coded communication among the pack of curs, from today’s press conference courtesy of Edwards and Juliano at RawStory, who lay it out pretty plainly.

    Michael Abramowitz asked Bush,

    … can you say whether you were at all disappointed in the behavior of those senior advisers, and have you communicated that disappointment to them in any way?

    This led to Bush’s dismissive reply, which should live in infamy. But he prefaced with this:

    First of all, the Scooter Libby decision was, I thought, a fair and balanced decision.

    and went on to shit all over everything that couldn’t get out of the way fast enough, after which Edward and Juliano report:

    Bush neither gave Abramowitz the chance for a follow-up question nor apparently remembered that he had already promised to call after Abramowitz on a different reporter, who interjected an objection to being passed over. Instead, Bush called on Wendell Goler of Fox News, who stated, â€Thank you, sir. You have spoken passionately about the consequences of failure in Iraq. …â€

    I will spare readers the rest of Goler’s lappings. But I suspect that Bush signalled Goler to get ready to shove the next guy aside.

  11. P J Evans says:

    prostratedragon

    Well, that would explain the ’fair and balanced’ line, which seemed out of place, even for Shrub. As a cue for Faux, it apparently worked quite well.

  12. orionATL says:

    this the kind of analysis that one might expect major media sources to do.

    regrettably, that does not happen in the u.s. these days.

    but here,

    at the small weblog â€the next hurrahâ€,

    a clear, informed, and sensible analysis is available.

    it’s not just advertising drop-off that is hurting american newspapers and television news.

    what is the point of consuming â€white bread†news?

    thin-sliced at that.

  13. Jodi says:

    espionage!!

    You got to be kidding.

    I will explain something again to all you Wilson-Plame-Rove(Cheney, Libby) conspiracy gurus.

    Mr Fitzgerald only charged people who gave testimony that disagreed with other witnesse(s)and I mean more than one.

    That is what Mr Libby did. Nothing else. He did not expose a IIPA ~Super~ Covert type agent.

    When Mr Fitzgerald had finished his long journey of investigation he then realized that the only case he had was when a witness mispoke or misremembered.

    But hey, what the heck. A conviction is a conviction! He gets a little check beside this case in his resume.

  14. Mad Dog Rackham says:

    Jodi: So the goal posts have been moved again, eh?

    Your type has apparently given up on the fiction that Valerie Plame wasn’t covert. Now you claim that she wasn’t â€Super Covertâ€. You are aware that that is a meaningless phrase, right? I guess that you can be sure that the CIA won’t ever describe her as â€Super Covert†the way they said she was â€covertâ€.

    Is inventing meaningless phrases as strawmen supposed to make you look super-double extra mega clever?

  15. masaccio says:

    Jodi, Fitzgerald had a reputation as a good prosecutor, a person of good judgment and an honest man, long before the Libby conviction. He worked the Libby trial in connection with his other case load and his administrative duties. This reputation was on public display in the Libby trial, and could be assessed in his work on that case.

    I don’t think your opinion will affect his reputation. It certainly has affected my view of the value of your comments.

  16. Jodi says:

    Mad Dog

    the â€Super†was mine indicating that she was covered under IIPA. It is not something official. I have used it before.
    Perhaps you should apprise yourself of the purpose of IIPA. It specifies when it is criminal to expose a so called covert agent.

    masaccio

    I am only indicating what the man did. He won his case. And indeed Mr Libby lied or so it seems with so many witnesses and his own notes against him.

    At that point, I am saying everyone should be satisfied.

    I am not one that says that because Armitage came forward even before Mr Fitzgerald came on the case no charges should be made if they later find that people are lying under oath.

    So there you have it. Another successful prosecution!

  17. Dismayed says:

    Seems to me the trolls spend more time out from under the bridges whenever the Administration is afraid another brick is about to fall from the wall.

    So now Trolls are Us has the mandate to help sell the â€everyone should be satisfied, king george says move on†story.

    Trolls are like weather vanes to me. The busier they are the more I like it.

  18. Xenos says:

    Well, none off this is newsworthy in any case. Neither the NYTimes not the Washpost are giving an unprecedented and possibly felonious dodge of a subpoena significant coverage. No mention at all on the editorial pages.

    I don’t expect to go to major coverage without impeachment being started, but they could at least sit up and take notice. And skipping out on a congressional subpoena is much easier to understand than the fine details of the Libby case.

    I am afraid we are getting the government we deserve.

  19. Anonymous says:

    WO

    Yes, I’ve been saying that for months, probably a year. When Woodward asked Armitage, â€WHY was he sent†it was neither a logical follow-on question nor one that was central to the story. Unless someone told it was central to the story. I expect it was the same with Novak (particularly since Novak was almost certainly meeting with OVP on July 7, just in time to have that setup. Add in the role, as brokers, of the Off the Record Club, and you’ve got all the pieces in place.

    semiot

    Let me make a distinction. THere is a difference between targeting Valerie bc she was in a part of CIA that didn’t just roll over for the war effort, that believed in facts, and that complained when OVP tried to invent their own facts–and going after Valerie to get Brewster Jennings specifically. I agree wholeheartedly that the former is true, but point out that there is no evidence to support the latter.

  20. Boo Radley says:

    â€He did not expose a IIPA ~Super~ Covert type agent.â€

    You are amazingly illiterate. Your comments advertise that you have not read emptywheel’s ANATOMY OF DECEIT.
    IIPA = Intelligence Identities Protection Act

    â€â€¦Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both…..â€

    An IIPA violation did occur. The only question is who committed it? Abundant evidence exists that a lot of the White House was involved. Fitz, however, was just the opposite of an â€over-zealous†prosecutor. Without Libby’s testimony, he would not move ahead on prosecuting the IIPA, because he wasn’t sure who was guilty.

  21. radiofreewill says:

    The WaPo is writing that Bush was referring to the Armitage-Woodward meeting on June 13 as the basis for Armitage coming forward and saying, â€I did it.â€

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..v=hcmodule

    â€But the comment seemed aimed at former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage, who was the first person known to have mentioned Plame’s name to a journalist, in a June 2003 conversation with Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward.â€

    (snip)

    NOTE: The article says in the paragraph above that Armitage mentioned Plame’s name to Woodward, which isn’t supported by the testimony.

    Here’s the live-blog of Woodward’s testimony:

    http://www.firedoglake.com/200…..dward-one/

    I found re-reading the testimony (very brief) to be interesting for three points –

    – Armitage, for his part, appears to say a lot more than the casual arm-flinging comment ’his wife works out there.’
    – Woodward, for his part, already knew about Joe Wilson before he met with Armitage!
    – Woodward was too uncomfortable to answer if he had contemporaneously interviewed VP.

    How did Woodward know, on June 13, that Wilson was the Ambassador that went to Niger? Did he get it from Libby at his meeting on June 6th? from or confirmed by the VP during the same timeframe, possibly on the 12th?

    Just the fact that Woodward already knew that Wilson was the Ambassador sent to Niger would likely have been enough to keep Armitage from being indicted by Fitz.

  22. TomJ says:

    Legal question about privilege: if Libby eventually gets a pardon or immunity, can a GJ or Congress call ’the wife’ or his lawyers or friends and ask them if Libby every told them a story different than public statements? It seems that if they could back him up they wouldn’t resist.

  23. greenhouse says:

    Forget about preaching IIPA to Jodi. Let’s talk about states of matter instead because it’s there that I’m convinced she wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between gas and liquid even after 5 minutes where she’s passed the latter instead of the former. Hence your name, shit stain.

  24. zimmerman says:

    Did anyone see this at C&L about Rove?

    â€And Rover is trying to revise history on his involvement in the case too…â€

    It links to a Slate piece that says this:

    And Rove is still trying to minimize and revise his Plamegate history. In the Aspen interview Rove forgot about Cooper again. He told Isaacson, â€my contribution to this was to say to a reporter—and this tells you something about talking to reporters—the words: ’I heard that too.’ †He was referring to his conversation with Bob Novak, only one part of his contribution to the drama. Rove’s lawyer has said that Rove told Cooper that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA, but when Isaacson mentioned Cooper in a follow-up, Rove talked about everything but that. â€I don’t remember the conversation with Matt Cooper,†he said. â€But even his own notes of it are that it’s an off-the-record conversation on Friday morning when I know that Novak’s column has been written and is going to be published, and that the CIA is coming out with a statement that says Joe Wilson was not sent at the direction of the CIA or the CIA director, or the Vice President, and is not dispositive, not conclusive, in fact added to the case, didn’t detract from the case and was suspect because of the methods he used to collect the data, and I’m trying to tell Matt Cooper—by his own notes—don’t get ahead of yourself on this, don’t be writing about this thing for Time magazine.â€

  25. Jodi says:

    Boo Radley

    Mr Fitzgerald did find someone who told reporters about Valerie Plame. He found Mr Libby.

    The Jury determined that Mr Libby told several people about Valerie Plame though he said he did not.

    Why then did Mr Fitzgerald not charge Mr Libby with an IIPA violation? He proved Libby was lying and did disclose the information, and the jury convicted Libby of same.

    Does this mean that if a murderer just keeps lying that he can only be convicted of lying about the murder and never be prosecuted for the dastardly deed???

    That is just plain silly!! But then so was the whole case.

  26. martin says:

    Jodi-I’m hardly up to speed here-but even I know you’re an idiot.

    Libby’s defense against IIPA would have been Cheney/Bush told me. A good defense.

    Nail Cheney. Fine. Libby lied to protect him. Easy enough knowing he’d never see jail.

    So nail Cheney anyway. Great idea!

  27. Jodi says:

    martin,

    why is it that when people don’t have the facts or the law on their side they tend to get emotional and make personal attacks on the other side and call them names?

    You say that Libby could have said that Cheney told him and that would have been a good defense. That is ridiculous. That would mean that only the originator could be tried. Or perhaps several originators in several chains of events if they were separate.

    I imagine the originators then were over in the CIA for that is whre the information came from. Then you might say that they were only doing their job providing information that was asked for. Ok, lets run with that.

    First all the involved WH people have security clearances so I assume they could tell each other most anything. The only problem would come from telling someone without a security clearance.

    But then we are back to Mr Libby telling Judy, et al. So Mr Libby wouldn’t have such a good defense.

    There was no IIPA violation.

    There was the disclosure of a â€normal only†covert agent and I agree that shouldn’t have been done. All those involved in the White House, and the State Department, and the CIA, at least did their country a disservice, by not protecting Valerie Plame.