Yesterday we noted items #22 and #23 on page 8 of the Libby indictment, which read ...
22. On or about July 12, 2003, LIBBY flew with the Vice President and others to and from Norfolk, Virginia, on Air Force Two. On his return trip, LIBBY discused with other officials aboard the plane what Libby should say in response to certain pending media inquiries, including questions from Time reporter Matthew Cooper.
23. On or about July 12, 2003, in the afternoon, LIBBY spoke by telephone to Cooper, who asked whether LIBBY had heard that Wilson's wife was involved in sending Wilson on the trip to Niger. LIBBY confirmed to Cooper, without elaboration or qualification, that he had heard this information too.
24. On or about July 12, 2003, in the late afternoon, LIBBY spoke by telephone with Judith Miller of the New York Times and discussed Wilson's wife, and that she worked at the CIA.
Here I've added item #24, for reasons which will become evident shortly. But, as I wrote yesterday, to my reading, two points stand out about items #22 and #23. First, before confirming Plame's identity as a CIA employee to Matt Cooper, Libby appears to have discussed whether or how to discuss her identity with other members of the vice president's staff, quite possibly with the vice president himself. Second, item #22 seems supererogatory. It has no clear relevance to the charges levied against Libby. It speaks to the complicity of others in the vice president's office.
What you really want, though, is to clear up that ambiguity about Cheney. Was he in on that strategy session about how Libby should deal with Cooper's call or kickin' back somewhere else on the plane?
TPM Reader JL
points to a month old New York Times
article (Johnston and Stevenson, Oct. 1st) which points very, very strongly to the conclusion that he did.
The article reports on Judith Miller's release from jail and subsequent grand jury testimony.
A short way into the article there is this passage (emphasis added) ...
A lawyer who knows Mr. Libby's account said the administration efforts to limit the damage from Mr. Wilson's criticism extended as high as Mr. Cheney. This lawyer and others who spoke about the case asked that they not be identified because of grand jury secrecy rules.
On July 12, 2003, four days after his initial conversation with Ms. Miller, Mr. Libby consulted with Mr. Cheney about how to handle inquiries from journalists about the vice president's role in sending Mr. Wilson to Africa in early 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq was trying acquire nuclear material there for its weapons program, the person said.
In that account, Mr. Cheney told Mr. Libby to direct reporters to a statement released the previous day by George J. Tenet, director of central intelligence. His statement said Mr. Wilson had been sent on the mission by C.I.A. counter-proliferation officers "on their own initiative."
That passage leaves a bit of ambiguity about whether this might be a different conversation than the one on the plane. This one further down into the article doesn't (emphasis added
Mr. Libby has said he spoke with Mr. Cheney on July 12, six days after Mr. Wilson's article.
Mr. Libby said he told Mr. Cheney that reporters had been pressing the vice president's office for more details about who sent Mr. Wilson to Africa. The two men spoke when Mr. Cheney was on a trip to Norfolk, Va., for the commissioning of the carrier Ronald Reagan.
Mr. Libby said Mr. Cheney directed him to refer reporters to Mr. Tenet's statement, which said that the C.I.A. had been behind Mr. Wilson's selection for the trip.
That's pretty clear, isn't it?
Notwithstanding Libby's implausible claim that the vice president told him to refer reporters to Tenet's statement, Cheney did
participate in that conversation. And Fitzgerald knows it. According to the Times
, Libby testified to the fact himself.