Tuesday, February 13, 2007


WHY IS LIBBY always photographed smiling? Two possible explanations:

- GWB has already told him, "Great job, Libosco; you'll have that pardon before I leave."

- Or Libby, unlike much of the Washington media, understands how hopelessly confusing this story is to most Americans and particularly to those forced to follow for hours at a time on the DC jury.

We have never cottoned to this overblown tale not because lying is nice, but rather because if you're going to prove it with political effectiveness you not only have to prove the lie but its importance.

Lies in Washington are too easy to spin as Bill Clinton proved. Most Democrats think his lie was just about sex. It wasn't; it was about denying a woman a fair trial in her case against Clinton. But even this key fact easily fell by the wayside.

So why do Democrats and the media think they've got something hot with Libby? Too many years of playing inside ball.

You know you're in trouble when you have the AP writing, "Defense attorneys got Woodward, Novak, Pincus, New York Times reporter David Sanger, Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler, and Newsweek reporter Evan Thomas to say they had talked to Libby about Wilson's allegations during the summer of 2003, but Libby had not disclosed Plame Wilson's identity or employment."

According to Vanity Fair, Valerie Plame told Joe Wilson on their third date that she was with the CIA. It is clear that more than a few Washington journalists were also let in on the secret, which is not too surprising because what's the thrill of being an important CIA official in Washington if people don't whisper about it? And if you don't do it yourself, then someone else, as happened with Plame, will do it for you to make nice to some capital scribe.

I don't even think about it anymore until the conversation goes ever so slightly awkwardly astray and you wonder: CIA? NSA? And you look around for someone more interesting with whom to talk.

And that's even before you get to the really deep cover spies like the ones on the rendition squad in Italy described by Tom Englehardt:

"The CIA agents took rooms in Milan's 5-star hotels, including the Principe di Savoia ("one of the world's most luxuriously appointed hotels") where they rang up $42,000 in expenses; the Westin Palace, the Milan Hilton, and the Star Hotel Rosa as well as similar places in the seaside resort of La Spezia and in Florence, running up cumulative hotel bills of $144,984."

But the key perspective is that of the jury box. How would you like to listen to the confusing yet deadening detail of this incident and then decide whether you had it all down beyond a reasonable doubt? A lot of people say the prosecutor is a real bright guy but I wonder whether he knows DC juries - accustomed to the annoyance, boredom and inconvenience of living near a misbehaving elite. Maybe they'll give it to Libby, but chances are just as good they'll look at the Yucky Flat mountain of evidence and say, "Beats me."