The nation’s two top newspapers weigh in today with their opinions on yesterday’s verdict in the Libby trial. The Washington Post is first up, and gets it – for the most part – right with their summation:
The fall of this skilled and long-respected public servant is particularly sobering because it arose from a Washington scandal remarkable for its lack of substance. It was propelled not by actual wrongdoing but by inflated and frequently false claims, and by the aggressive and occasionally reckless response of senior Bush administration officials — culminating in Mr. Libby’s perjury.
The partisan furor over this allegation led to the appointment of special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald. Yet after two years of investigation, Mr. Fitzgerald charged no one with a crime for leaking Ms. Plame’s name. In fact, he learned early on that Mr. Novak’s primary source was former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage [yep – ST], an unlikely tool of the White House. The trial has provided convincing evidence that there was no conspiracy to punish Mr. Wilson by leaking Ms. Plame’s identity — and no evidence that she was, in fact, covert.
Mr. Wilson’s case has besmirched nearly everyone it touched. The former ambassador will be remembered as a blowhard. Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were overbearing in their zeal to rebut Mr. Wilson and careless in their handling of classified information. Mr. Libby’s subsequent false statements were reprehensible. And Mr. Fitzgerald has shown again why handing a Washington political case to a federal special prosecutor is a prescription for excess.
Mr. Fitzgerald was, at least, right about one thing: The Wilson-Plame case, and Mr. Libby’s conviction, tell us nothing about the war in Iraq.
My biggest quibble with that is their asserting that Mr. Cocktail party will be remembered as a blowhard. He won’t be by the agenda-driven who-cares-about-the-facts partisans on the left who pushed hard for this non-scandal to be investigated because they wanted to “get Rove” (something that in the end, they failed to do). In fact, if anything, in the eyes of the Nutroots, the jury’s belief in Libby’s guilt will elevate the pompous, tea-sipping Kerry supporter even more, even though no one was ever convicted of committing the crime of ‘outing a covert agent’ (or whatever the legal term is) – which was the original charge in all this.
The NYT, on the other hand, predictably gets it wrong on a number of fronts. Here’s the first one:
One of the most senior officials in the White House, Lewis Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, was caught lying to the F.B.I. He appears to have been trying to cover up a smear campaign that was orchestrated by his boss against the first person to unmask one of the many untruths that President Bush used to justify invading Iraq.
The above is nothing but pure fiction, as not one person from the admin involved in the discussion of Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger denied that they were trying to discredit him – something that is not, last I checked, a crime. Secondly, the NYT is simply in denial when they assert that Joe Wilson was the “first person to unmask one of the many truths that President Bush used to justify invading Iraq” because, as the WaPo reported on July 10, 2003, a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report contradicted Joe Wilson on several points (emphasis added):
Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, dispatched by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program with uranium from Africa, was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly.
Wilson last year launched a public firestorm with his accusations that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for war. He has said that his trip to Niger should have laid to rest any notion that Iraq sought uranium there and has said his findings were ignored by the White House.
Wilson’s assertions — both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information — were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.
The panel found that Wilson’s report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson’s assertions and even the government’s previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address.
So who was the liar here? Joe Wilson. And the man never had to testify – ever.
More mutterings from the NYT:
We also do not understand why the federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, chose to wage war with the news media in assembling his case, going so far as to jail a Times reporter, Judith Miller, for refusing to reveal the name of a confidential source.
Um, um, could it be because in order to find out who allegedly ‘leaked’ a covert agent’s name to the press, well, uh, the press had to be questioned, too? Who’da thought? Let’s also not forget that the NYT wanted this leak investigated in the first place – they just didn’t want one of their own to be questioned!
Tom Maguire points out something else wrong with that last NYT bit, because Judith Miller’s ‘confidential source’ wasn’t confidential at all:
The Times seems to have backslid here – in the early part of the Miller drama, they pretended that she was in jail to protect the identity of her source. That never made sense, since Libby was named in her grand jury subpoena, and eventually reality caught up with them. But only briefly.
This, BTW, isnt’ the first time the NYT has gotten the facts wrong on this case.
As if the newspaper of record getting it wrong (again) wasn’t bad enough, there are new questions today surrounding one of the jurors on the case, whose name is Denis Collins. He was juror #9. Guess where he’s blogging today? The notoriously left-wing Huffington Post (hat tip: ST reader vatar). What he posted is shocking (emphasis):
Judge Walton read the query sheet I’d marked earlier.
You know someone on the prospective witness list?
I do. Bob Woodward was my boss at the Washington Post for three or four years.
Would you tend to give his statements more credibility than the statements of other witnesses?
I immediately picture a party Woodward hosted at his Georgetown home for the Metro staff about 25 years ago. When I went looking for my girl friend, I found her with some copy aides and reporters in an attic piled high with boxes of files for one of his books.
“Unbelievable,” said one of the reporters. “Look at the file labels. This entire box is backup for one interview.”
But not infallible. Didn’t he write two different books about going to war in Iraq?
Know anyone else on the list?
Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. I don’t think I ever spoke to him during my 10 years at the Post, but twice in the last 14 months we talked at parties thrown by a mutual friend.
Until a year or so ago, Tim Russert was a neighbor. His back yard and mine shared an alley and a basketball hoop where our sons played. I attended a few neighborhood barbecues in his back yard.
Attorneys at both tables are suppressing “ain’t this a small town” grins.
Do you know Judith Miller?
No. And yet. I remember a scathing column about Miller in the New York Times and volunteer that I went to grade school with its author, Maureen Dowd. (Maureen had a crush on my brother Kevin. Her older brother Kevin was something of a hero to my youngest brother Brendan after he showed up to coach his grade school football team one Saturday morning in a convertible, with a gorgeous woman in a black cocktail dress in the front seat, and what appeared to be an empty bottle of champagne on the floor. They’d obviously been up all night. He obviously had game.)
I’m not eager to be on any jury for a six week trial, especially with a recently published novel to pimp. But the suggestion that I might lay down for a fellow journalist is starting to irritate. I had to work too hard to become a reporter. Started in the basement of the Washington Post pushing 400 pound rolls of paper to the presses, blah, blah, blah.
“From where you sit I’d be skeptical too,” I tell them. “But I’ve also heard good things about Mr. Libby.” Pregnant pause. “A friend who played in a 40 and older touch football league with him says he has a good arm.”
One of the lawyers asks me the subject of my 2005 non-fiction book.
“You wrote about the CIA?”
“I did.” The perfect storm.
Yet here I am.
Here’s more on that book, courtesy of Sweetness and Light.
How did this happen?
In the meantime, Atlas Shrugs has a list of crooked Democrats still walking around free (hat tip: ST reader Bak). Another travesty of justice.
Update I: Bryan Preston has more thoughts on the verdict:
There is something deeply rotten about trying a man for misremembering things about a crime he did not commit, because it never occurred. There is something deeply rotten in a country that lets proven liars like the Wilsons walk scott free to continue to undermine a war in progress, while Libby winds up facing jail time. Their nepotistic junket to Niger and Wilson’s subsequent misreporting of that trip are a far greater crime against the country than anything Libby did. There is something deeply rotten in a country that lets Sandy Berger go, but puts Mr. Libby behind bars.