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Traitorgate? It's All About Bob Woodward

Reported by Nancy - November 17, 2005 -

Last night (11/16) Brit Hume led off Special Report with a segment devoted to minimizing, obfuscating & otherwise muddying the waters on the whole Traitorgate issue. FNC dragged out some of its usual suspects (Victoria Toensing & Joseph diGenova) & usual techniques (change the subject, same old talking points & lack of balance) to shore up its ongoing efforts to exculpate the behavior of Bush administration officials.

At 6:02pm (ET) Jim Angle reported on Bob Woodward, testimony under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame & her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was publicly disclosed by Bob Novak. According to Angle, this means "that in effect he started the whole thing." Angle also said that Woodward told his WaPo colleague, Walter Pincus, who doesn' tremember being told by Woodward. Angle showed two clips of Victoria Toensing making statements about this, & said that Woodward's testimony undermines Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's chagre "that Libby was involved in a scheme to discredit Wilson."

Hume immediately followed this report with an interview with Joseph diGenova (lawyer who just h appens to be Toensing's husband). DiGenova was in classic "outrage" mode, shaking his finger & clearly angry. He said that Fitzgerald "publicly bootstrapped his case" with the press conference he held & that "you cannot indict where there is reasonable doubt." Hume asked about the charge of "lying under oath" & diGenova didn't answer but instead trotted out the old "she's [Valerie Plame] not a covert employee" line, amplifying that by saying that "she never was." Hume pointed out that Libby was charged with other lies, "whether he was first to say it [Plame's identity] or not." Again diGenova had no response, so he continued to attack Fitzgerald who, he said, "made a very bold statement ... which is now untrue" & Fitzgerald knows it. diGenova said that under DOJ guidelines, "he [Fitzgerald] has a duty to go back" & review the evidence, & if there is "reasonable doubt" Fitzgerald should be "as honest about it as he pretends to have been" about the indictment. For his finale, diGenova repeated his attacks on Fitzgerald's press conference ("that conference was a disgrace ... "),

Comments: FNC, yet again, ditches the concept of "balance" when it suits them. One guest with an axe to grind doesn't present either a "fair" or a "balanced" aassessment of a situation. Both Toensing & diGenova are charter members of the "there's no crime here" club, yet Angle showed no clips of anyone making statements to oppose Toensing's statements, & Hume "neglected" to say whether Fitzgerald's office had been invited to present a countervailing opinion. Bios for both Toensing & diGenova can be found at their law firm's website.

Also note the classic "change-the-subject" tactic: the emphasis in the diGenova interview was all about Fitgerald, not about the actual charges against Libby or -- gasp! -- the probability that Libby & officials in the Bush administration may have broken US laws, up to & including treason. David Fiderer at The Huffington Post has an excellent, step-by-step explanation of the Foreign Intelligence & Identities Act. Perhaps coincidentally, his article was specifically written to rebut the same old "Plame wasn't a covert agent" excuse that Toensing & diGenova both used.

Any legal beagles reading this, please comment on any of DiGenova's assertions. The one that jumped out at me was his claim that "you cannot indict where there is reasonable doubt." I've served on grand juries (one local, one federal) in the past, & I distinctly remember the prosecutors who were presenting evidence to us being very clear that "reasonable doubt" would be the standard used at criminal trial & that the standard for criminal indictment was significantly lower.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Special Report tactics as illustrated above). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.