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Fitzgerald Shoots Down Minimizing Libby Charges

Reported by Judy - October 28, 2005

Memo to all wingnuts revving up their laptops to blog about how the five felony counts against I. Lewis Libby amount to chump change: Come up with something better.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said during his news conference Friday (October 28, 2005) that the charges against Libby are a "very, very serious matter" and should not be dismissed simply because they do not deal with the underlying alleged crime of outing a CIA agent which started the process two years ago.

"That talking point won't fly," Fitzgerald said flatly.

Libby's series of lies to the FBI and the grand jury amounted to throwing sand in the umpire's eyes and prevented investigators from finding out the truth about how and why the name of Valerie Plame was leaked, he said. Obstruction of justice is a "very, very serious crime" and should not be regarded as less serious than the leak itself, he said, because "The truth is the engine of our judicial system."

Fitzgerald also made it clear that Valerie Plame's connection with the CIA was not widely known prior to Bob Novak's July 2003 column revealing it.

Fitzgerald's news conference undercut the Fox News broadcast that immediately preceded it. A Fox News guest, Peter Brookes, a former CIA agent now with the right-wing Heritage Foundation, had complained, "After two years and $70 mllion, this is what we get?"

Brookes had also claimed that Joe Wilson had routinely introduced his wife as a CIA agent and that other CIA agents were upset with her for appearing in a Vanity Fair article after the Novak column appeared. Why they were upset he didn't say, since all damage had been done by then.

Fitzgerald stressed that the leak of Plame's CIA connection was a matter of national security that potentially could make it harder to recruit intelligence agents at a time when the nation needs more of them. He said damage occurred because of the leak, although he would not elaborate on what kind, and added, "It was done to all of us."

From time to time as Fitzgerald answered questions from reporters, Fox News showed on the screen a photograph of Wilson and Plame in a convertible. Was this an attempt to claim that she was not "under cover" at all? It was irrelevant to the indictment of Libby. It was his picture that should have been shown -- continuously, and not only occasionally.

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