On September 30, 2003, just after the investigation into the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson began, President George Bush said:
"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is . . . If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."
We now know exactly what he meant. (And someone needs to make sure the video of Bush saying that gets in the hands of every TV network news producer -- as well as every Democratic presidential campaign.)
As the right-wing Wurlitzer cranks up to canonize the Shrub-in-Chief for commuting the sentence of poor, suffering Scooter here's a few talking points (hopefully concise enough for use with friends and family) that may help convey why Libby was the only person prosecuted in the Plame investigation -- and why Dubya's act yesterday aided and abetted Libby's obstruction of justice:
Bogus Spin #1: Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald went after Libby even after learning that Richard Armitage had been Bob Novak's "primary source" for his column outing Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA employee.
Wrong. Armitage made his admission in early October 2003, nearly three months before Fitzgerald was appointed. So it should be clear that Fitzgerald wasn't appointed just to find out who leaked to Novak. In fact, this means that -- even with Armitage's confession in hand -- there was so much evidence of wrongdoing that a longtime GOP loyalist like John Ashcroft felt he had no choice but to recuse himself and allow the appointment of a special counsel.
Bogus Spin #2: Even so, Libby wasn't the only one who leaked about Plame.
Maybe not, but it turns out that every other Bush administration who leaked did so with information they got as a result of Libby's actions. Ari Fleischer testified during Scooter's trial that Libby told him over lunch about Plame working for the CIA, and Karl Rove reportedly told a similar story to the grand jury that indicted Libby. Meanwhile, Armitage and Bushite press flack Dan Bartlett both found out through a State Department memo that was produced in response to questions that Libby had asked a top department official about Wilson's trip to Niger. If Libby (and his boss, Dick Cheney) had been content to reply to Wilson's criticisms on their merits rather than by rattling cages in search of fodder for personal attacks, none of the other officials would ever have been able to leak about Plame.
Bogus Spin #3: The trial was just Libby's word against that of a bunch of reporters.
Although three reporters did testify, they were preceded on the stand by six different government officials who each testified to having conversations with Libby about Joe Wilson's wife before the date when Libby first claimed to have heard it from a reporter. It was these officials' testimony, more than that of the reporters, that convicted Libby.
Bogus Spin #4: Libby was convicted for having a faulty memory.
It's never mentioned in the mainstream media, but Scooter didn't just "forget" telling reporters about Joe Wilson's wife working for the CIA, and deny it when he really had told them.
No, Libby's "faulty memory" caused him not only to deny where he had learned about Plame -- a note produced in the trial showed Vice President Cheney had told him she worked in the Counterproliferation Department of the CIA (where the majority of employees are covert) -- but to invent stories saying he HAD leaked to reporters when he hadn't. He claimed to have been the first to tell Matt Cooper about Wilson's wife, thereby covering up the fact that Karl Rove had done so. And he shielded Fleischer by falsely claiming to have told the Post's Glenn Kessler as well, apparently trying to cover for the Post's October 12, 2003 report that a journalist for the Post (who turned out to be Walter Pincus) had been leaked to -- a news story that was found, with key passages underlined, in Libby's files.
Thus Libby was convicted not just of perjury but of intentionally lying in order to obstruct the investigation. And what George Bush did yesterday was intended to make sure he got away with it.