Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has offered his sentencing recommendation for Scooter Libby, and yet again, the document is drawing attention more for what it has to say about Libby’s boss – Vice President Dick Cheney – than what it says about Libby.
The Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin reports:
It was established at trial that it was Cheney himself who first told Libby about Plame’s identity as a CIA agent, in the course of complaining about criticisms of the administration’s run-up to war leveled by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson. And, as Fitzgerald notes: “The evidence at trial further established that when the investigation began, Mr. Libby kept the Vice President apprised of his shifting accounts of how he claimed to have learned about Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment.” The investigation, Fitzgerald writes, “was necessary to determine whether there was concerted action by any combination of the officials known to have disclosed the information about Ms. Plame to the media as anonymous sources, and also whether any of those who were involved acted at the direction of others. This was particularly important in light of Mr. Libby’s statement to the FBI that he may have discussed Ms. Wilson’s employment with reporters at the specific direction of the Vice President.”
Not clear on the concept yet? Fitzgerald adds: “To accept the argument that Mr. Libby’s prosecution is the inappropriate product of an investigation that should have been closed at an early stage, one must accept the proposition that the investigation should have been closed after at least three high-ranking government officials were identified as having disclosed to reporters classified information about covert agent Valerie Wilson, where the account of one of them was directly contradicted by other witnesses, where there was reason to believe that some of the relevant activity may have been coordinated, and where there was an indication from Mr. Libby himself that his disclosures to the press may have been personally sanctioned by the Vice President.”
The filing makes fairly clear that Fitzgerald believes Libby is a fall guy. He exposed Valerie Plame because Dick Cheney wanted him to. And were the lies that brought him down also designed to protect Cheney? That’s a hypothesis that many in Washington have long accepted as gospel.
Another aspect of Cheney’s renowned obsession with secrecy and the destruction of potentially compromising evidence was revealed today by the Peter Yost of the Associated Press. Yost notes that
A lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney told the Secret Service in September to eliminate data on who visited Cheney at his official residence, a newly disclosed letter states. The Sept. 13, 2006, letter from Cheney’s lawyer says logs for Cheney’s residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory are subject to the Presidential Records Act.
Such a designation prevents the public from learning who visited the vice president. The Justice Department filed the letter Friday in a lawsuit by a private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, seeking the identities of conservative religious leaders who visited Cheney at his official residence. The newly disclosed letter about visitors to Cheney’s residence is accompanied by an 18-page Secret Service document revealing the agency’s long-standing practice has been to destroy printed daily access lists of visitors to the residence.
One figure likely to have appeared prominently in the logs is convicted felon Jack Abramoff.