A view from the jury room


“We’re not saying that we didn’t think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of,” said the juror, Denis Collins. “But it seemed like he was…the fall guy.” Collins, an author and ex-Washington Post reporter, was the only one of the seven women and four men on the jury to provide an inside glimpse into the method and thought process that the panel used to find Cheney’s former top aide guilty of four felony counts…

“it was said a number of times, ‘What are we doing with this guy here?’ ” Collins told reporters on the steps outside the federal courthouse. “Where’s Rove, where’s — you know, where are these other guys?”…jurors believed that Libby had been carrying out a directive by his immediate boss, Cheney, to “go out and talk to reporters”…

[Former Bush press secretary Ari] Fleischer testified that Libby had told him “hush hush” about Plame over lunch on July 8, 2003 — a Tuesday. In his grand jury testimony from March 2004, Libby said that Tim Russert, Washington bureau chief of NBC News, told him about Plame during a conversation two or three days later, and that Libby had the impression he was learning about her for the first time. “It was just very hard not to believe how he could remember it on a Tuesday and then forget it on a Thursday”… “If I tell it to someone else, it’s even more unlikely that I would forget it”…

“We took about a week just to get all these little building blocks there . . . We reached no decision quickly.”…”In the end,” Collins said, “what we came up with was that Mr. Libby either was told by or told to people about Mrs. Wilson at least nine times.”

Mr. Collins’ comment — “Mr. Libby either was told by or told to people about Mrs. Wilson at least nine times” — echoes what we wrote in October 2005 about a significant problem with Libby’s defense. More broadly, if Mr. Collins is representative of the jury, it would appear that they reached the view that Scooter Libby was the “fall guy” for a cover-up, a possibility we also addressed at the time of the indictment, with a particular emphasis on Libby’s choice of his media “source” for the Plame leak.

We don’t really want to rehearse those matters at this late date, but it is entirely possible, in our view, that a cover-up strategy (if it was) might have worked very successfully if Libby had chosen a print reporter as his “source,” instead of Tim Russert. A print reporter might well have fought for years any attempt to be questioned by the FBI or a Grand Jury, sending this whole matter far enough into the future — with procedural court battles — that it became irrelevant, with no charges brought against anyone. Unfortunately for Libby, he named as his “source” for knowing about Plame, NBC’s Tim Russert — the one reporter who was singing like a bird to the FBI from Day One.


This space also agrees with Debra Saunders’ assessment:

Following the trial from my desk, I was hoping that there was enough to Libby’s faulty-memory defense to instill jurors with reasonable doubt. I also believe that Fitzgerald should not have gone after Libby when he knew Armitage and Bush strategist Karl Rove were the leakers to Robert Novak, whose column outed Wilson as a CIA agent and spawned this investigation.

An unnecessary tragedy and waste, all around.

2 Responses to “A view from the jury room”

  1. Richard Cook Says:

    To “out” Plame she had to be in a cover status. Was she?

  2. MarkD Says:

    The lesson, of course, is to refuse to cooperate with federal agents. Martha Stewart too could have avoided a lot of unpleasantness by refusing to answer questions.

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