It is a pleasure to see the Bushrovers being dealt with like the little criminals they are.
It’s not only that Libby has been indicted. The whole process that Fitzgerald and his team have pursued is a classic of prosecutorial form, in particular the way in which they are winding it up. They are dealing with the inner Bush team like any other band of gangstas—starting with the smaller fish, leaning on them to provide the scaffolding into the main arena, corroborating (or, mainly, anti-corroborating) statements with various press tools used in the Bush spin cycle, letting the principal targets twist in the wind for as long as possible (gaining, no doubt, additional ‘cooperation’ along the way); and for the piece de resistance, putting a big arm on the VP’s COS.
The grand jury has run through its maximum allowable tenure—but Fitzgerald has mentioned that he may call them back for one or two bits and pieces as he wraps up (or another grand jury, its not clear). Having landed Libby for five counts, what could be left? And, really, why Libby?
Libby is one of the more self-effacing of these operators. Rove is a star, though he may appear to slave for W—W is his creation in so many ways. Cheney is absolutely his own creation, and sui generis as well. So Scooter is a junior G-man—can anyone imagine that he pursued the Wilson vendetta without clear direction from Cheney?
Luckily, Fitzgerald was able to catch Scooter in some lies. As he insists, this is not a trivial matter in a national security investigation—in fact, he was pretty clear that, in terms of his personal theory of prosecution, going after prejury and obstruction is continuously necessary for the health of the justice system. It is only when viewed amongst his co-conspirators that Libby’s indictment seems a bit of a denoument.
But wait, there is more. For gentle reader, know that Fitzgerald is still using leverage. We didn’t see Hannah or any other apparently cooperating minion hauled away in chains. They were useful in hooking Libby. But Libby is also only bait—for Rove, or better yet, for Cheney. Because Libby is going to think hard about the cost and pain if the trial goes forward, and is going to worry in a way that Rove would not (he can write his own ticket with any rightwing national candidate in the country) and that Cheney will never have to (Dick could pay a lot of legal bills without running through all that blind trust money from his Halliburton days).
Fitzgerald has pulled of a very elegant piece of plotting. He has landed on Libby like a ton of bricks, in the most public and humiliating way possible (the guy didn’t even reveal a secret agent, he is just a liar). This sets Libby up for the next phase. If his trial goes forward, we get Cheney and Rove on the stand—will all sorts opportunity for perjury. Alternativly, Scooter can cop a plea—but there is a price for that: Cheney and/or Rove. For all of his air of "I’m done and I’m heading back to Chicago", Fitzgerald is still heading for the real finale.
[Elliot Ness over on the right]
UPDATE 11/11/05: see Murray Waas’ piece in National Journal (lead grafs here):
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald delayed a decision on whether to seek criminal charges against Karl Rove in large part because he wants to determine whether Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, can provide information on Rove’s role in the CIA leak case, according to attorneys involved in the investigation.
Even if Fitzgerald concludes in the near future that he does not have sufficient evidence to charge Rove, the special prosecutor would not rule out bringing charges at a later date and would not finish his inquiry on Rove until he hears whatever information Libby might provide — either incriminating or exculpatory — on Rove’s role, the sources said.