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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Libby tea leaves

Libby hires two top lawyers, pleads not guilty, and his lawyers warn the judge that significant First Amendment issues will be raised at trial...specifically, that reporters will be rigorously questioned.

No wonder Matt Cooper looked ill last Sunday.

I think this may prove to mean one of two things. Either:

A) BushCo. is functioning as a team and playing a very big "double down."

ie. Libby, with the consent of BushCo., fights Fitzgerald and creates a huge legal mess with First Amendment meets Executive Privelege meets Classified Information and National Security issues that drown Fitz and create a political climate where, for the good of the country...something...a pardon, an act of Congress, multiple Supreme Court rulings (shadows of Bush v. Gore)...must play Deus Ex Machina and end the whole affair.

In sum, A is the "fight it together, keep the lie going, and make a Big Mess" strategy. The other option is B.

B) BushCo. is divided and utterly unable to function coherently.

Hence, Libby, on his own, is doing the one thing no one can blame him for...ie. pleading "not guilty" and mounting a vigrous defense.

Libby and his lawyers may expect that this will not come to trial. Libby may know or be gambling that those whose interests it not come to trial will intervene in some way shape or form. But, when all is said and done...option B is best expressed that Libby is acting alone and taking the one course of action that he can't be blamed for taking: defending himself.

I think it is one or the other of the two. A points to a unified BushCo. gunning for a constitutional crisis. B points to a very unstable BushCo. where every dog fights for itself.

Either way, Libby sends a clear message to Fitzgerald that he intends to fight the charges with heavy hitting.

I am sure Fitz knows how to handle "B". For myself, I question whether Fitz, or any prosecutor, is equipped to handle fight "A". On some level, A would be as foul as the entire Plame affair to begin with. The Executive Branch would be using its powers to fight a legal proceding...using those powers to gum up the system and thwart it...all in the service of its own lies and abuse of power.

Of course, if the President wants to, he has broad leverage to do just that: Andrew Jackson succeeded. Abraham Lincoln did, too. FDR tried and failed. Nixon, well, Nixon crashed and burned. Regardless, plan A would be a reckless abuse of power.

The limits of plan A seem to me to be the popularity or unpopularity of the Bush Administration and its coherence as a "fighting unit"...and, of course, whether Fitzgerald, or some enterprising reporter, has some information that we have not seen yet. Doubling down in the current climate, especially facing Fitz, is very high stakes poker. I think A could prove disastrous for the country.

For myself, the most startling thing about the Libby "not guilty" plea is that it happened at all.

If BushCo. were a cohesive unit and truly sought to "stop the bleeding" in the Leak Scandal, the time to do so would have been now, if not three weeks, or two years, ago. Bush house cleaning would create an option C...a picture of a unified White House seeking to move on, restaff, and "take the country forward." Why they don't do this boggles the mind.

I would bet that in a "Bush admits mistakes" environment Fitz would be inclined to give generous plea bargain terms...if not be under very powerful political pressure to do so. The fact that Bush has not cut his losses is stunning. It gives the powerful impression that he must have much more to lose.

In fact, the lack of any sign of the pursuit of an Option C makes me think that B, a disunified White House, is the most likely scenario. If BushCo. were truly going to fight this in a unified, and "dirty" way they would want, at the very least, the appearance of cooperation and good faith. "A little house cleaning" would go a long way in this regard.

No matter how you slice it, Libby's "not guilty" plea indicates, at least to me, that this is a foul, foul mess headed in a foul direction. Let's hope Fitz has got something more up his sleeve.

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3 Comments:

  • hmm, i'd bet on A and hope like hell for B. here's hoping fitz appreciates the enormity of the situation. there are some potentially pretty big dragons out there to slay. i don't see these guys going quietly.

    By Anonymous wu ming, at 12:45 AM  

  • A is beyond the WH at the moment. WHo would mount and coordinate such a scenario? Not Rove, Not Cheney. Not Card. Miers is meat. Abu Gonzo is gone. They pure and simply don't have the players to pull it off.

    I, too, am surprised that C hasn't been attempted. Hubris, I guess...AND that they have WAY too much to hide. The timing for C is quickly passing. It should have been done last week, if it was going to be attempted.

    By Blogger NYBri, at 7:52 AM  

  • Nybri is probably right. BFEE Consigliare James Baker could pull it off, but he's no longer welcome in the current White House. But if Baker or someother BFEE operative suddenly reappears as a Senior Advisor to President Katrina, I will start to worry that the fix is in. Until then, Monty, I choose the Fitzgerald behind Door B.

    By Blogger Brenda, at 8:36 AM  

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