On July 14, 2003, Robert Novak’s article, “Mission to Niger,” appeared in the Washington Post. In that article, Novak wrote, “Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction.” Novak provided this information to answer the question about why Joseph Wilson was sent to Niger to determine if Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from that African country, whose only two exports are uranium and goats.
Because it is illegal to identify covert CIA operatives, a criminal investigation was launched on September 26, 2003, to determine who had leaked the name of Valerie Plame to Robert Novak, who had identified his sources only as “two senior administration officials.”
Early in October 2003, Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State, alerted Secretary of State Colin Powell that he thought he was the one who inadvertently revealed that Joe Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. Armitage had told Robert Novak about Wilson’s wife.
Lewis Libby was interviewed by FBI agents from October 14 through November 26, 2003. Then U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald of Chicago was appointed to lead the leak investigation on December 30, 2003. Knowing who had leaked the name of Valerie Plame, this prosecutor continued to investigate; in other words, Fitzgerald went fishing for an answer to a question to which he already knew the answer.
How different is this prosecutor’s behavior from recently disbarred prosecutor Michael Nifong, who continued to prosecute the three Duke lacrosse players for a rape he had proof they did not commit? Especially in light of what Armitage says about remaining silent while the investigation was grinding along: “Armitage says he didn't come forward because ‘the special counsel, once he was appointed, asked me not to discuss this and I honored his request.’”
How is this request from Fitzgerald any different from Nifong’s request of the DNA analysts to suppress the DNA results that cleared the lacrosse players?
Lewis “Scooter” Libby
There is no question the Lewis Libby gave FBI agents and the grand jury testimony that differs from others, including the reporters with whom he had mentioned Valerie Plame. Libby claims to have first heard of Plame as a CIA operative from Tim Russert, who denies that he told Libby about Plame.
At the conclusion of Fitzgerald investigation, the prosecutor charged Lewis Libby with lying to the FBI and grand jury. Libby’s main defense was a faulty memory. At trial, it was clearly shown that many of the players in this drama had faulty memories. Nevertheless, the jury decided that Libby had lied and that is a crime.
Libby was found guilty of lying to the FBI and the grand jury, but not for leaking the name of a covert CIA agent. Yet at sentencing, Fitzgerald argued for a sentence that would be meted out to a defendant who had, in fact, been found guilty of leaking a covert CIA agents name to the media.
A Pardon for Libby?
Lewis “Scooter” Libby became the target of a zealous prosecutor who had spent two years trying to give the Bush administration a black eye. Of course, lying to the FBI and grand jury should be the condemned and carry a punishment.
But in the Libby case, it was not determined without a doubt that he did lie, and therefore, the punishment handed down is a travesty. Even with the recent Bush commutation, Libby loses a great deal. He will probably be disbarred; he is on probation for two years, and he has to pay a fine of $250,000.
President Bush should pardon Scooter Libby; only then will justice be served.
For more details:
Robert Novak’s “Mission to Niger”
CIA Leak Timeline
Armitage On CIA Leak: 'I Screwed Up'