The Libby Indictment

Want Greta's blog delivered directly to your e-mail box? Click here to sign up!

I have posted a few pictures for you today. Unless you live in a cave (or were lucky to be relaxing on some cruise with no TV or Internet over the weekend), you know that the vice president's top aide was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in Washington, D.C. I drove past the Federal Courthouse about midday on Friday as we all awaited the news from the grand jury and snapped a few pictures for you. I wanted you to see that the satellite trucks were pulled up and ready to transmit whatever news there might be from the grand jury. This courthouse is, as you know from Friday's blog, the Federal Courthouse where the Watergate (search) matters were heard, the Clinton/Lewinsky grand jury and the trial of the man who shot President Reagan, etc. If you know the courthouse, or have seen it on TV over the years, you will note in the picture it looks different. Recently there was an addition completed on the east side of the building and I have shown you this in two of the pictures.

Everyone has been talking about the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby (search) all weekend. Of course this is bad news for Libby, but I think the Bush administration did not get hit as badly as it could have — and not because Karl Rove was not indicted. Being a lawyer, I think like one and look at it from both sides — the prosecutor's side and the defense side. We lawyers think "worst case scenario" when we look at it from the defense side so that we can prepare for it. It would have been far worse for the Bush administration (and Libby, too) if there were a conspiracy count added to this indictment. Reading the first few pages to the indictment, it seems to me the grand jury might have added that count. Listening to the press conference by the special counsel, I think there was a risk of a conspiracy count. I am not certain — I am not taking a position on the merits of such a count — but I sure wonder how close the grand jury got to that question.

What a conspiracy count would have done is broadened the amount of information the prosecutor would have needed to prove its case at trial. Right now the prosecutor has a rather simple task — essentially bringing in a few witnesses to show Libby lied. Of course the lie must be an intentional one, a material one and not an accidental one. This will all be done at a trial. (Incidentally, the trial could happen soon since the federal docket is a fast one.)

If there had been a conspiracy count added to this indictment, the evidence at trial would have included details about the alleged conspiracy and undoubtedly included motive — reasons behind the conspiracy and acts in furtherance of it. The motive would no doubt have been related to the decision about going to war. The Bush administration would not have wanted the issue of why we went to war — and whether a legitimate reason or a phony one — discussed in a trial. No administration would want that to be done — whether a good reason or not. Administrations — whether rightfully or not — don't want to be questioned about its decisions. Had a conspiracy count been added, there would have been presented evidence on the issue of whether a conspiracy was created to silence a critic of the administration's decision to go to war. There would also have been evidence about any attempts to cover up since people try and hide conspiracies.

Whether you believe the decision to go to war was a wise one or not, a concocted one or not, is not the point in this blog. My point in the blog is merely to tell you how I think the events would have unfolded within the rules of evidence had a conspiracy count been added to the indictment. Likewise, I think the same effect would have been created had there been a charge of outing the CIA employee included in the indictment. It is still possible the evidence presented at trial could include information about the administration's decision and actions about the war, the chances are curtailed with this limited indictment. So, while Libby is very unhappy and while the administration is too, it could have been worse for the administration.

Incidentally, don't make up your mind on this indictment yet... and don't decide based on whether you are a fan of the administration or Libby yet... wait for the evidence presented at trial. That is the right thing to do — this is not about who you like and who you don't. An indictment is not evidence — it is simply an official notification of charges. If proven, the charges in this indictment are very serious.

Here is some quick background on the judge assigned to the care right now — he is a former federal prosecutor, a former superior court judge in D.C., a former head of the DEA and now a federal judge. He has a reputation in D.C. for giving long, but within the law, sentences.

By the time you read this, we should be "on the road." We are taking the show to Pensacola, Florida.

I need a favor: I am trying to reach a benchmark today on subscribers to GretaWire. Can each of you find one friend to subscribe? We routinely get more than 100,000 hits a day on but I want to get the subscriber base up past a particular point. I figure if you like the blog well enough to read it each day, you might want to share it with a friend.

Now for some of your e-mails — as usual, randomly selected:

E-mail No. 1

The only thing I ever saw Harriet Miers doing was walking on our news (or yours for that matter). I am sorry for her that she withdrew her name, but I am a 61-year-old woman who has not been able to walk well (or at all) in the last three years. I would give 10 years off the end of my life to be able to walk like Ms. Miers and all she has to worry about is withdrawing from the Supreme Court nomination.
God bless her and I pray it was the right decision for her, but some clips of her doing something other than walking up some steps would have been nice. Although I think just being able to walk like that made her capable to be a justice. (Well not really, but almost!)
Paulette Lynn
Sanger, TX

E-mail No. 2

This is in response to E-mail No. 1 from Friday. Yes, Floridians did have a week to prepare. Most true Floridians are prepared by June 1 every year for the long hurricane season. Unfortunately, many of the unprepared people being shown on the news are not Floridians. They haven't been here very long and do not take hurricane season seriously. These people wander into Florida and wander back out to wherever it is they came from. It's a constant revolving door here. Maybe some of them are even your ex-neighbors. How about taking some of them off our hands, huh? We natives would sure be grateful.
Candi Boone
Carrabelle, FL

E-mail No. 3

This is only a suggestion, but what if we out source the Supreme Court functions. Hey, are trying to use world law in the decisions they hand down from time to time. Most of the people on the court are getting very old and maybe they are not able to think straight.
This way we might get some young blood on the court. This is just a though, since we are out sourcing every things else.
You might look out FOX News might do the same thing.
Gulfport, MS

Send your thoughts and comments to:

Watch "On the Record" weeknights at 10 p.m. ET