What is memory? What is it to remember?
Those are questions that Scooter Libby's lawyers want jurors to be asking along with "Did Libby lie to the FBI and a federal grand jury?"
Libby's lawyers have long signalled that they want to call a memory expert at his trial in order to explain how he might have misremembered details of certain conversations. "The crux of Libby's defense," the AP writes
, "will be that he was too preoccupied with national security "matters of life and death" and that he could have easily confused "snippets of conversations" he had with reporters from Time magazine, NBC and the New York Times." Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald charges
(pdf) that he lied about those conversations concerning CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Yesterday, Libby submitted a summary of the expert's testimony. It's a brief treatise on the vagaries of memory... amounting to the conclusion that sometimes people forget or misremember things. We've posted it here
in our Document Collection. An example:
At the encoding phase of memory ... events and information are not stored in a literal way, but rather are interpreted and then stored in memory with respect to existing memories, expecations, schemas and goals. During the retention interval ... stored memories do not tend to remain in the as-encoded state, but rather are malleable. Existing memory representations are influenced and modified by subsequent and prior related events and information. Finally, .... retrieved memories are reconstructions, rather than exact reproductions of past events.
Libby's lawyers say jurors need reminding of the unreliability of memory. The judge, who's signalled in the past that he's skeptical of the testimony's relevance, will ultimately rule whether the expert may testify.