[eDebate] cheny on the stand

Jake Stromboli infracaninophile
Sat May 27 15:35:50 CDT 2006

what an embarassment to the administration -- it's going to look like he led 
libby to commit the criminal act...or at least cheney's testimony sends 
libby to jail -- ha ha ha ha ha -- his own chief of staff


Filings in CIA Leak Case Paint Cheney as Determined to Counter Critic

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 27, 2006; Page A06

A string of recent court filings in the CIA leak case provide new details of 
Vice President Cheney's role at the center of an administration effort to 
rebut an outspoken critic of the White House's rationale for the Iraq war in 
the summer of 2003. They include his repeated discussions of the issue with 
his top aide and his part in a counteroffensive that resulted in the 
unmasking of a CIA officer.

The court filings -- by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who charged 
Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, with lying in the 
CIA leak case -- provide a vivid portrait of the vice president's activity. 
Cheney repeatedly questioned Libby about the war critic, former ambassador 
Joseph C. Wilson IV; wrote detailed notes about an op-ed article penned by 
Wilson; and raised questions about the CIA connections of Wilson's wife, 
Valerie Plame.

Cheney -- who helped devise the White House argument that Iraq had an 
extensive program to build weapons of mass destruction before the war -- is 
described in the filings as upset by Wilson's criticism, which the vice 
president saw as a direct assault on his credibility.

Fitzgerald does not describe Cheney's actions as illegal or even improper. 
But the filings make it clear that Cheney had a larger role in the effort to 
rebut Wilson than was previously known and that his actions could put him in 
an uncomfortable place: on the witness stand as a sitting vice president.

Legal experts said Cheney would have a difficult time refusing to testify in 
court as part of a trial to determine whether Libby lied or obstructed 
justice in the leak probe.

There are, experts said, many precedents for his appearance. In 1876, 
President Ulysses S. Grant voluntarily gave a deposition on behalf of an 
aide accused of corruption. President Ronald Reagan gave videotaped 
testimony in the Iran-contra prosecution of John M. Poindexter and testified 
himself. Most recently, President Bill Clinton agreed to testify before a 
grand jury investigating the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal.

One lawyer involved in the Libby case, who spoke on the condition of 
anonymity because U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has warned lawyers 
about speaking to the media, said Fitzgerald "is doing everything he can to 
avoid the sideshow of a constitutional fight over calling a sitting a vice 
president to testify."

But Carl W. Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, said 
Fitzgerald will call Cheney "if he believes it will be probative or helpful 
to the case." If he does, Tobias said, Cheney is likely to resist, arguing 
that he should not be forced to testify in a criminal case as a sitting vice 
president. The trial is expected to begin early next year.

Neither Libby nor Fitzgerald has asserted that Cheney directed Libby to leak 
Plame's name to the news media, and the details of what Cheney told the 
prosecutor's office in a June 2004 interview have not been disclosed.

But Fitzgerald went out of his way to say in an April filing that Bush 
played no role in the leak of Plame's name. He did not similarly exonerate 

So far, Fitzgerald's latest disclosures are not meant to implicate the vice 
president so much as they are intended to undermine a key aspect of Libby's 
defense -- that Libby was so preoccupied by other matters that he forgot, 
rather than lied about, what he told two journalists, Judith Miller of the 
New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, regarding Plame.

Instead, Fitzgerald said in his filing on Wednesday night that Cheney's 
focus on an array of issues surrounding Wilson's July 2003 column, including 
the fact that Plame worked for the CIA, riveted Libby's attention on the 
same matters "and what should be done to respond to the accusations it 
contained." This was said to have been the context -- "the state of mind of 
the Vice President," as Fitzgerald put it -- in which Libby made statements 
to reporters at the time and later allegedly lied to investigators about 
what he had said in those statements.

"Fitzgerald has to rebut Libby's claim that this was not a big deal," said 
Randall D. Eliason, a former chief of the section on public corruption and 
government fraud at the U.S. attorney's office in Washington. "The best way 
for Fitzgerald to counter this is to show that the vice president himself 
was involved in responding to the Wilson article and directing Libby to 
respond. It highlights how implausible it is for Libby to say he just forgot 
about this incident when he testified."

Fitzgerald's filings also disclosed that part of the anti-Wilson campaign 
involved leaking previously classified information from an intelligence 
report about Iraq's alleged nuclear ambitions

The spectacle of Cheney testifying in the leak case would be a major 
distraction for the White House, at the very least. The potential witness 
list is a who's who of the Bush White House, including Karl Rove and former 
spokesman Ari Fleischer, along with CIA officials and lesser-known State 
Department aides.

But Cheney would certainly attract the most attention. One of the most 
powerful vice presidents in history, Cheney has become, over the years, a 
symbol of the White House's argument on weapons of mass destruction.

A recent Fitzgerald filing shows that Cheney does not let go of things 
lightly, and the column by Wilson -- who was sent to Niger by the CIA to 
determine whether Iraq was seeking nuclear weapons materials there -- was no 
exception. Cheney clipped it from the newspaper, placed it on his desk, 
wrote some sharply critical notes on it, and discussed it over and over with 
Libby for days.

Cheney was upset, according to Libby's account in newly disclosed grand jury 
testimony, by language in the column that Cheney saw as a direct attack on 
his personal credibility.

It was not an imagined slight: Wilson contrasted what Cheney had said about 
Iraqi nuclear weapons ambitions earlier that year with what Wilson had said 
in a 2002 classified report that he suggested had reached Cheney's office. 
Wilson also bluntly accused the administration of twisting intelligence to 
exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

Eight days later, columnist Robert D. Novak wrote that two senior 
administration officials told him that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA 
officer, had put him up to an investigation of Iraq's nuclear-related 

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