The justice system is broken

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

June 11th, 2007, 3:43 pm #1


The justice system is broken
Wes Vernon

June 11, 2007

Not only should Scooter Libby be pardoned, Valerie Plame Wilson should be made to face charges of perjury.

The Senate Intelligence Committee a few days ago issued a report that should convince any real prosecutor (one seeking justice and not a scalp for his own self-aggrandizement) that Valerie Plame Wilson should be investigated on charges of lying under oath in the CIA leak case.

The committee in 2004 already concluded that Plame had in fact suggested to the CIA that her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, be sent to Niger to determine whether Saddam Hussein's government had approached Nigerian officials about buying uranium ("yellowcake"), a key product in the making of nuclear weapons.

However, in a well-publicized House hearing in March of this year, Valerie Plame — the "covert" agent who was not — denied she had made the recommendation. So the Senate Intel committee has now declassified and issued a complete copy of Plame's memo wherein she clearly did suggest her husband for the mission.

Ergo, why is this woman not being hauled before a court of law to answer perjury charges?

Take your pick

In a section of the committee's report over the signatures of its vice chairman, Christopher "Kit" Bond (Mo.) and fellow Senators Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Richard Burr (N.C.), this paragraph is particularly telling:

"Mrs. Wilson told the CIA Inspector General that she suggested her husband for the trip, told our Committee staff she could not remember whether she did or her boss did, and told the House Committee emphatically that she did not suggest him."

This is Exhibit A of the bottom line in this whole silly mess: Joe and Valerie Plame Wilson's stories are so shot through with self-contradictions as to resemble multiple choice questions on a grade school exam.

BTW — The third of the above multiple-choice options (about Plame's "emphatically" denying involvement in sending her husband to Niger) came in a show trial — thinly disguised as a congressional hearing — before a panel headed by Congressman Henry Waxman, a bitter and vindictive partisan and cheap publicity hound whose California precincts include the Holly elite.

The truth will out (someday)

The Wilsons have hightailed it out to Santa Fe, New Mexico. If the Justice Department does its job (which it won't), they would soon be on the lam hiding out somewhere — maybe in Barbra Streisand's Malibu mansion.

Plame has a book deal and a movie contract to give her and her husband's totally discredited version of events. Meanwhile, Scooter Libby has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for not remembering every conversation he had with reporters months earlier, and what he said (or did not say) to whom.

So he gets 30 months in the slammer (unless overturned) and the Wilsons are amply rewarded for their lies/distortions. Try to tell me the justice system is not broken.

In a previous column (see How to curb abusive prosecutors — 4/9/07) we outlined a modest proposal for reining in vindictive power-mad prosecutors. The suggestions were offered on the basis of sound legal advice from Renew America general counsel Steven Voigt. Had they been applied in this case, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's witch hunt would likely have come to a screeching halt before the trial had proceeded for more than a few minutes. This Chicago Inspector Javert demanded his pound of flesh in the form of a stiff sentence for Libby and used as one of his arguments alleged "evidence" that had not been presented to the jury that heard the arguments. Talk about jack-boot justice. (That makes two show trials in the case. Shall we try for three?)

Justice anyone?

As Scooter Libby's lawyers deal with the fate handed him by a kangaroo court, the Wilsons' agent dickers with book publishers and Hollywood producers over how many millions they'll bag for their farce and for destroying Libby's reputation.

The Senate Intelligence Committee notes that both Wilson and Plame claimed (in her case, under oath) that two officials who met with the Nigerian president had concluded there was "nothing to the Niger-Iraq story." Said the committee report: "This too is untrue."

In fact, the senators add, "Neither of these reports resolves the question of whether Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger and neither discounted the reporting. In fact, U.S. Ambassador [Barbro] Owens-Kirkpatrick's first cable raises more than discounts, concern about the potential deal, noting that "we should not dismiss out of hand the possibility that some scheme could be, or has been, underway," and that Niger's prime minister had said that "buyers like Iraq would pay more for Niger's uranium."

Wilson report of little value

Despite his public hints to the contrary, Wilson never briefed Vice President Cheney. That and other Wilson/Plame assertions are treated this way by the committee:

"Mrs. Wilson clearly suggested her husband for the trip to Niger; neither Ambassador Wilson's report nor the reports of Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick resolve the Niger-Iraq uranium reporting; the Vice President was never briefed by Ambassador Wilson's findings because CIA believed the findings did not clarify the issue; and [discussion of Niger-Iraq deal-making] was cleared by the CIA for the use in the President's State of the Union address." (This, of course, refers to the sixteen little words in President Bush's speech that ultimately set off a firestorm.)

And by the way....

The Senate committee says the Nigerian President told U.S. General Carlton Fulford that Niger's uranium was "secure for the moment" and then "asked for unspecified U.S. help to ensure its safety." It would be interesting to learn what if any "unspecified" quid pro quo Niger's head of state had in mind.

Meese weighs in

"Most of my life was in active law enforcement one way or another," former Attorney General Edwin Meese told a breakfast audience last week. "I was an active prosecutor and trial lawyer for eight years in my early career. And I've been appalled by several of these things [i.e. the Duke alleged rape case, the witch hunt against Tom DeLay, etc.]. This is where the people will have to rise up."

Describing Scooter Libby as "an excellent case for a pardon," Meese added, "[W]ithin 48 hours, this prosecutor should have known that no crime was committed — that Valerie Plame was not covered personally in the meaning of the act under which the accusation was made. There was no violation of the Covert Identities Act. There was no violation of the Espionage Act. It shouldn't have taken any longer for any responsible lawyer to figure that out. [So] there was no need for any of these interrogations that led this particular case" to Scooter Libby.

Justice in the D.C. courts? Don't count on it

Mr. Meese added: "Now I don't condone lying to the FBI, I don't condone perjury. But I think this case — you had a prosecutor who shouldn't even have been interrogating this particular person [Libby]. There is some question as to the evidence as being a matter of people's recollection, as it turned out. I would hate to be any kind of Republican defendant in a court in the [90%-plus Democrat] District of Columbia today, quite frankly before a jury."

The former attorney general noted that "a guy like [Clinton NSC advisor] Sandy Berger [who stole classified documents from the Archives by stuffing them in his pants and his socks] gets probation, and Scooter Libby gets two-and-a half years in prison."

Justice in the CIA leak case?

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, the original leaker in the Plame case, refused to come forward for 2½ years while Libby and others were hauled before a grand jury, a reporter went to jail for 85 days, others were threatened with jail sentences — and Armitage gets a pass from the elite establishment because he opposed the war in Iraq. What does he say for himself? "Ooops! Sorry!" (In so many words). See how far that plea would get Scooter Libby. Off to jail he goes, says the hanging judge.

Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson are enjoying the slower-paced life of the boutique tourist town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here in D.C. (before they flew the coup), she dispensed under oath what is clearly misinformation. You or I would get a perjury rap for that. She not only does not even say "Oooops! Sorry!", she adds insult to injury (and also adds to the wealth of the tort bar) with slap suits against Libby, Karl Rove (her real target), and anyone else who might have repeated information that Bob Novak found in Who's Who in America, available at local libraries in towns and cities virtually everywhere.

President Bush should pardon Scooter Libby. Shut down the whole witch hunt, Mr. President. He was loyal to you. Are you loyal to him?

The Justice Department should open an investigation to determine whether Valerie Plame Wilson should be prosecuted for perjury, and if not, why not.

The early 21st Century is continuing the late 20th Century "getting away with it" culture that also punishes the innocent. Meanwhile, poster child O.J. Simpson still tries to track down "the real killer" on the golf course.

And you tell me the justice system is not broken?

Wes Vernon is a Washington-based writer and veteran broadcast journalist.

© Copyright 2007 by Wes Vernon

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Previous articles by Wes Vernon:

* Immigration bill: Go ahead--break the law! Who cares?

* The enemies of free speech are on the march--Part 7

* Amnesty for terrorists and Vanderbilt's ghost: the public be damned

* The world government Law of the Sea treaty: it's baaaaack!

* Update: Criminals--not enemy combatants?

* The Fort Dix Six--criminals or enemy combatants?

* Hard-nosed investigative reporting: a giant has left us

Click here for more articles

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