Libby Lied, and Cheney Needs To Come Clean

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Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, is apparently planning to rely on a “I was a very busy man to remember details” defense to the perjury and obstruction of justice indictment against him. According to a statement issued by his attorney, Libby’s testimony simply contained “inconsistencies” that were the result of “the hectic rush of issues and events at a busy time for our government.”

Give me a break!

Was Libby’s memory really too poor to recall the details regarding something as important as the outing of a CIA agent?

Yeah, right!

Well, maybe Libby can explain this one: Soon after the Justice Department authorized the FBI to investigate the Plame matter, which occurred on September 26, 2003, President Bush’s press secretary Scott McClellan announced on October 10 that he had asked both Libby and Karl Rove whether they were involved in the Plame matter and that both of them had assured him that they were not involved.

Not involved? Not involved at all? Is that just the poor memory of a hard, over-worked vice presidential chief of staff? How is it possible that Libby would forget any involvement in the Plame matter, since, according to the indictment, in March 2004 he told the grand jury that at the very least he had discussed Plame with New York Times reporter Judy Miller, Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, and NBC columnist Tim Russert.

Ask yourself: How could Libby “forget” any involvement in the Plame matter when he responded to McClellan’s inquiry in October 2003 and then “remember” the details of his conversations with those reporters several months later in March 2004?

An interesting mystery, of course, is why Vice President Cheney let McClellan’s statement to the nation remain standing. At the time that McClellan made the announcement on behalf of President Bush, Cheney had to know that the statement was false. Did Cheney approach Libby after McClellan’s announcement and say, “Hey, what gives, Scooter? You know you played a role. Why did you lie to McClellan?” Or did Cheney go to President Bush and say, “George, that announcement that McClellan just made to the nation on your behalf is false and you need to correct it because Libby did play a role in this”?

We don’t know what Cheney said or did in response to McClellan’s statement because unfortunately, the vice president is choosing to remain silent. The reason for his self-imposed silence? Cheney says he can’t talk due to “pending litigation.”

But that excuse for Cheney’s keeping his lips sealed is ludicrous. There is no rule, regulation, or law that precludes Cheney from fully disclosing everything he knows about the Plame outing and when he knew it. The American people have a right to the complete truth from Vice President Cheney, not only with respect to what he knows about the Plame outing but also on the related — and much more important — subject of the war on Iraq. Cheney needs to come forward and explain to the nation why the White House marketed the war on Iraq on the claim that Saddam Hussein intended to attack the United States with nuclear weapons and also disclose everything he knows about efforts to punish former ambassador Joseph Wilson for disclosing that that claim was false.

November 1, 2005

Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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