Sunday, February 11, 2007

Media Blackout on a Few Essential Points: Libby Trial

A Few Facts You May Not Know About the Libby/Plame Investigation Because of the Media Blackout lack of discussion.

The major witness the prosecution has called to impeach Libby's veracity is Tim Russert.

Before Tim Russert remembered journalistic privilege, he was first contacted by the FBI by phone, on occasion in which he spoke freely.

Did you know that the FBI notes of this phone call have been lost? So there is no contemporaneous record of it, only a report or summation on the notes of the call on which to rely.

How do you think that happened? That the Federal Government lost the notes to a key conversation with a key witness used to impeach the one person that the Special Prosecutor has brought up for charges.

Did you know that the report based on the lost notes states that Russert could not rule out absolutely that he talked about Wilson's wife.

If this is what the report based on the notes of the call said, what did the notes themselves say?

Further, that the man who interviewed Russert, Eckenrode, has an imprecise style of writing up reports based on notes.

For example, on another occasion, when the notes taken by his subordinate said Libby didn't recall discussing Plame during the Ari Fleischer lunch, Eckenrode wrote this up in the report on his notes as Libby adamanatly denied this. Note this difference, because the fact that he adamanatly denied that this occurred was the information that was presented to the Grand Jury, which then charged him with a count of perjury for this denial. The Grand Jury never saw the original notes which state that he did not recall.

[Defense Attorney] Wells belabors the point that the notes say "Libby does not recall" discussing Wilson's wife. He says that in writing up a report of the interview, FBI agent [Eckenrode] said Libby "adamantly denied" discussing Wilson's wife.

Bond says that they asked the FBI agent and verified the report. Wells says, but that's not what's in the notes, right? Bond admits this is true.

Then, think again about the fact that original notes of the first Tim Russert conversation have disappeared. And that only the report based on the notes remain. And even the report of Tim Russert's preliminary conversation with Eckenrode on the matter of whether Wilson's wife was mentioned with Libby differs extensively from the testimony Russert just gave publicly at the Libby trial.

So, too, on that now notorious phone call, Eckenrode may have similarly presented Russert with an extreme version of what Libby had originally claimed about discussing Plame with Russert. So that not only would Russert not recognize that as part of their initial conversation, but neither would Libby. And then Russert's response to a question that did not cite Libby's original language was then presented to the Grand Jury. This exaggeration or lying of investigators is a method commonly in use by the FBI.

However, we will never know what question was asked of Russert, in what specific language, because we no longer have the notes of this conversation.

Did you know that Libby and Fitzgerald had previous run-ins, on the matter of Mark Rich, all of which Libby ended up winning. This, perhaps, does not make Fitzgerald the most objective of special prosecutors when it comes to Libby. Then think again about the lost notes of the conversation.

On this point, at Just One Minute, commentator and attorney, MarkO makes an observation:
This case is frightening on one particular front.

Lawyers litigating against each other can really learn to hate one another. Prosecutors can (not all, by any means) take it to another level. After all, they are powerful and imbued with a sense of self-righteousness not known since the Inquisition.

Befuddle or humiliate a prosecutor and you need to drive fifty-five.

So, I cannot understand how it is possible for Fitzgerald to be permitted to indict a man who so fully humiliated him in the Rich prosecution. Again, it is not something that I could ever prove. That said, the thinness of this case, the failure to charge anyone with a substantive crime and the singling out of Libby (his arch nemesis) for prosecution on such silly grounds tells me it’s personal. You see, I think when Fitzgerald came up empty, and he needed something, he decided to avenge his humiliation and that’s where we are. Even if that is not true, the DOJ should not permit such a clear conflict (not legal but honest) to infect this proceeding. Libby humiliated Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald ruined Libby’s life. And, again, there’s nothing to be done.

Did you know that someone in a position to review Grand Jury testimony leaked information to the Press regularly during the time the Grand Jury was sitting. And that the person in the position to do that, Eckenrode, has since quit, even though he had a long career at the FBI but he was not due for mandatory retirement. Then think about what the defense council could do with that information, if Eckenrode had taken the stand to be cross examined about his methods and his leaking. And about the fact that he lost his original notes from the conversation with Tim Russert.

As background to this post, see also the following posts: from Clarice: Libby Trial: NBC Connection

From Tom Maguire: Tim Russert: Equivocator?

Clarice Feldman, Tom Maguire and the entire JOM commentariat have been invaluable in assembling this information.

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