Griffs Notes 3/6/07

Today’s verdict in the I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Trial is bad news for the White House. Guilty on four of five counts: one for obstruction, two for perjury and one for lying to the FBI. Now the former right-hand man to the Veep is facing jail time and enormous fines. And the defense has predictably announced their intentions to appeal.

"We have every confidence Mr. Libby ultimately will be vindicated," defense attorney Theodore Wells said. "We believe Mr. Libby is totally innocent and that he didn't do anything wrong."

Thus the immediate and obvious question becomes: Will the President pardon Scooter Libby?

Democrats like Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy wasted no time demanding the President promise not to pardon Libby. So far the White House deflected the question at today’s briefing. But this becomes a problem (and fair question to ask) when as President you promised to have the highest degree of ethical conduct in your administration.

I would also argue this development is a major blow to the administration because the trial was never about whether there was a conspiracy to manage the intelligence game in making the case for the war in Iraq. Rather, the case was about whether or not a high-ranking official lied to cover for his boss or other high-ranking officials. The jury clearly felt that he did so.

Thus the question of actual wrong doing on the part of the administration not only remains a question back on the minds of Americans – but their image is tarnished, perhaps indefinitely.

I found the comments by the lone juror, former journalist Denis Collins, who spoke to the press quite telling as well.

Collins spoke about the jury’s feelings about the trial’s focus on Libby alone. He said the jury felt, “What are we doing with this guy here? Where's Rove? Where are these other guys? I'm not saying we didn't think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of. It seemed like he was, as Mr. Wells put it, he was the fall guy."

(And as an odd side note, you might like to know that Mr. Collins is the author of a book produced for the National Spy Museum: SPYING – the Secret History of History. Ok, hmmm?)

So in the end we have not learned what the trial should have been about all along: Who leaked CIA Agent Valerie Plame’s name and was it a coordinated effort?

And what effect will this have in emboldening the President’s most vocal critics who say that the war in Iraq was founded on lies?

Fitzgerald indicated that he will not pursue further investigations at this time – i.e. go after Cheney and Rove again. But only time will tell if that will change – in the middle of a war that we cannot undo even if we wanted to do so.

And once again the history books are opened to an interesting page in Washington history… but not necessarily a good day for America.

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