First of all (page 1):
Beginning on or about January 20, 2001, and continuing through the date of this indictment, defendant I. LEWIS LIBBY, also known as "SCOOTER LIBBY," was employed as Assistant to the President of the United States, Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States, and Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs.I'm including this passage because as I write this, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, President of the United States George W. Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney are all talking in front of cameras. This doesn't end with Libby, even if he is the only one to go down over it.
With that out of the way (page 3):
Joseph Wilson ("Wilson") was a former career State Department official who had held a variety of posts, including United States Ambassador. In 2002, after an inquiry to the CIA by the Vice President concerning certain intelligence reporting, the CIA decided on its own initiative to send Wilson to the country of Niger to investigate allegations involving Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium yellowcake, a processed form of uranium ore. Wilson orally reported his findings to the CIA upon his return.This may seem like a gimme, but Reep apologists have been strongly implying both that the Veep's office had nothing to do with the Niger trip and that Plame's status as a CIA employee was already well-known.
Joseph Wilson was married to Valerie Plame Wilson ("Valerie Wilson"). At all relevant times from January 1, 2002 through July 2003, Valerie Wilson was employed by the CIA, and her employment status was classified. Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community.
Next (page 4):
On or about May 29, 2003, in the White House, LIBBY asked an Under Secretary of State ("Under Secretary") for information concerning the unnamed ambassador’s travel to Niger to investigate claims about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium yellowcake. The Under Secretary thereafter directed the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research to prepare a report concerning the ambassador and his trip. The Under Secretary provided LIBBY with interim oral reports in late May and early June 2003, and advised LIBBY that Wilson was the former ambassador who took the trip.Following this are a number of instances in which Libby discussed with others the details of the Niger affair, Wilson, and Plame. Most noteworthy are this item (page 5):
On or about June 9, 2003, a number of classified documents from the CIA were faxed to the Office of the Vice President to the personal attention of LIBBY and another person in the Office of the Vice President. The faxed documents, which were marked as classified, discussed, among other things, Wilson and his trip to Niger, but did not mention Wilson by name. After receiving these documents, LIBBY and one or more other persons in the Office of the Vice President handwrote the names "Wilson" and "Joe Wilson" on the documents.
On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.This one (also page 5):
On or about June 14, 2003, LIBBY met with a CIA briefer. During their conversation he expressed displeasure that CIA officials were making comments to reporters critical of the Vice President’s office, and discussed with the briefer, among other things, "Joe Wilson" and his wife "Valerie Wilson," in the context of Wilson’s trip to Niger.And these two (page 6):
Shortly after publication of the article in The New Republic, LIBBY spoke by telephone with his then Principal Deputy and discussed the article. That official asked LIBBY whether information about Wilson’s trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson. LIBBY responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line.So, that's what Libby was doing before Novak's column came out. It seems there's an abundance of testimony and evidence (including documents) indicating that Libby -- and, by extension, Dick Cheney's office, and possibly the President's office:
On or about June 23, 2003, LIBBY met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. During this meeting LIBBY was critical of the CIA, and disparaged what he termed "selective leaking" by the CIA concerning intelligence matters. In discussing the CIA’s handling of Wilson’s trip to Niger, LIBBY informed her that Wilson’s wife might work at a bureau of the CIA.
- knew about Plame's CIA employment;
- knew that Plame's CIA position was classified;
- were discussing how to respond to Wilson's accusations; and
- were frustrated with the refusal of top CIA officials to toe the administration line.
As part of the criminal investigation, LIBBY was interviewed by Special Agents of the FBI on or about October 14 and November 26, 2003, each time in the presence of his counsel. During these interviews, LIBBY stated to FBI Special Agents that:Each of these three asssertions by Libby is contradicted by other testimony.a. During a conversation with Tim Russert of NBC News on July 10 or 11, 2003, Russert asked LIBBY if LIBBY was aware that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. LIBBY responded to Russert that he did not know that, and Russert replied that all the reporters knew it. LIBBY was surprised by this statement because, while speaking with Russert, LIBBY did not recall that he previously had learned about Wilson’s wife’s employment from the Vice President.
b. During a conversation with Matthew Cooper of Time magazine on or about July 12, 2003, LIBBY told Cooper that reporters were telling the administration that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA, but that LIBBY did not know if this was true; and
c. LIBBY did not discuss Wilson’s wife with New York Times reporter Judith Miller during a meeting with Miller on or about July 8, 2003.
The indictment goes on to discuss how these statements were material to the Grand Jury Investigation. The most relevant point seems to be (page 10) whether Libby told reporters that other reporters were saying this to him and he didn't know whether it was true, or whether he offered the information as fact. It's entirely possible that Libby attempted to cover himself by offering information that he knew to be true, but framing that information as rumor. Unfortunately for him, nobody seems to be willing to corroborate that version of events, so the fact that he knew for certain that Plame's status was classified moves to the forefront. The evidence indicates that Libby hedged and schemed to reveal the information in an indirect fashion, and to make himself as untraceable as possible.
And, indeed, there seems to be abundant evidence that Libby's testimony before the Grand Jury, as cited in the perjury indictment, was willfully false (pages 21-22, emphasis on sections identified in indictment as instances of perjury):
Q. The next set of questions from the Grand Jury are -- concern this fact. If you did not understand the information about Wilson's wife to have been classified and didn't understand it when you heard it from Mr. Russert, why was it that you were so deliberate to make sure that you told other reporters that reporters were saying it and not assert it as something you knew?So that's what's up.
A. I want -- I didn't want to -- I didn't know if it was true and I didn't want people -- I didn't want the reporters to think it was true because I said it. I -- all I had was that reporters are telling us that, and by that I wanted them to understand it wasn't coming from me and that it might not be true. Reporters write things that aren't true sometimes, or get things that aren't true. So I wanted to be clear they didn't, they didn't think it was me saying it. I didn't know it was true and I wanted them to understand that. Also, it was important to me to let them know that because what I was telling them was that I don't know Mr. Wilson. We didn't ask for his mission. That I didn't see his report. Basically, we didn't know anything about him until this stuff came out in June. And among the other things, I didn't know he had a wife. That was one of the things I said to Mr. Cooper. I don't know if he's married. And so I wanted to be very clear about all this stuff that I didn't, I didn't know about him. And the only thing I had, I thought at the time, was what reporters are telling us.
The obvious attack at this point is the one that the Reep apologists have been cooking up for the last week -- that this is a peripheral charge, unrelated to the central issue. This is patent nonsense. If people can lie to a Grand Jury with impunity, there's no sense in having a Grand Jury. More importantly, if Libby's lies weren't central to the leak probe, why did he lie?
In my opinion, Libby lied to cover up the fact that he was involved in the deliberate and illegal outing of a CIA officer, which was undertaken at the level of the Office of the Vice President of the United States of America in retaliation for Ambassador Wilson's statement -- does anybody remember what the statement was -- that the administration used information it knew to be false to create public support for an invasion of Iraq.
Wishing everyone a Merry Fitzmas, and keeping fingers and toes crossed for a Happy New Grand Jury.
There's also a very real possibility that the Libby indictment is being brought to bring pressure -- either against Libby himself, who (according to the caption on the glowbox news) is looking down the barrel of up to thirty years in prison, or against other witnesses who may also have been caught in lies -- to turn and give testimony against their co-conspirators.
Fitzgerald generally refused to comment on the future of the investigation, which is consistent with his office's behavior up to this point. He left open the possibility of going further. It seems likely that he's reached a point where he needs to turn a member of the administration's inner circle to penetrate the administration's machine any further, and Libby certainly seems to qualify.