Monday, November 07, 2005

Don't Tell FBI Agents Anything About Anything

One thing has become crystal clear from the Martha Stewart and the Lewis Libby cases: even if you are not guilty of any crime and even if no crime was committed by anyone, do not answer any questions put to you by a government agent about anything. If you remember events differently from the way other people remember those events, you can be prosecuted for obstruction of justice. I am reasonably intelligent and have a good memory, but sometimes I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. My mind tries to remember important things and to forget trivia. I imagine that busy people like Stewart and Libby have scores of phone calls and conversations with people every day. It is ludicrous to criminalize misperceptions and forgotten sequences of events, if you are not guilty of an underlying crime, unless it can be proven that you are deliberately trying to help a guilty person escape punishment for that crime, or that you are wantonly trying to impede investigators for devious reasons of your own. It is especially ludicrous if there is no crime involved, and months or years have gone by since the conversations took place.

Now I don’t know if Lewis “Scooter” Libby was deliberately trying to undermine the investigation to discover who leaked Valerie Plame’s name and what the circumstances were, but it seems absurd that a highly intelligent person, wise in the ways of politics and government and a lawyer to boot, would deliberately lie about when and how he came to learn of Plame’s identity, when he knew that others might contradict him, and that his own notes, turned over to investigators, also contradicted him. Would he do this just to save the administration from some political embarrassment? I don’t think so.

We also need to take note of what the circumstances of the charge are all about. Libby said he learned of Plame’s identity from Tim Russert, and that he understood that this was fairly common knowledge when he learned of it. His notes supposedly say that Vice President Cheney and others told him about it a month earlier, an exchange of information that implies no wrongdoing; and apparently the outing of Plame has turned out not to be a criminal act, no matter who might have done it.

According to federal prosecutor Fitzgerald, Libby lied about these matters in a certain way when investigators first questioned him, and also repeated the same story to the Grand Jury. Were these two prosecutors (of Stewart and Libby) just angry and frustrated because they devoted so many resources and so much time to investigations that led nowhere? Have they persecuted Martha Stewart and Lewis Libby to save face and gain some favorable publicity? I don’t know. Hopefully more of the truth will come out, but in the meantime, Mr. FBI agent, don’t ask me any questions about anything; I’m not talking. I don’t even know what time it is.

David Horowitz of FrontPage Magazine had this to say, “On the answers to these questions hang a possible 30-year jail term and $1.25 million in fines for a Bush Administration official who was merely attempting to expose the truth about Mr. Wilson, a critic of the Administration who was lying to the press about the nature of his involvement in the Niger mission and about the nature of the intelligence that it produced. In other words, Mr. Libby was defending Administration policy against a [mendacious] political attack, not committing a crime.

Mr. Fitzgerald has been dogged in pursuing his investigation, and he gave every appearance of being a reasonable and tough prosecutor in laying out the charges yesterday. But he has thrust himself into what was, at bottom, a policy dispute between an elected Administration and [dishonest] critics of the President's approach to the war on terror, who included parts of the permanent bureaucracy of the State Department and CIA. Unless Mr. Fitzgerald can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Libby was lying, and doing so for some nefarious purpose, this indictment looks like a case of criminalizing politics.”
FrontPage Magazine, 10/29/05

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At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Joe Alves said...

It's hard for me to believe that this prosecutor could be duped by the Left, into believing that he had a case against Libby and Rove. To give a man 30 years for lying about a crime that they can't even prove that he committed, is ridicules. Child molestors don't get a fraction of what they want to give Libby, and what about people like Jesse Jackass, who cheats on his income tax and shakes down big business for money? Where's the justice in this country?


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