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Obsessive Compulsive, Much?

Today, in the LA Times, we learn that Scooter Libby was obsessed with getting even with Joe Wilson. And when I say obsessed, I truly mean it. The kind of obsessed that makes you buy a whole lotta binders and fill them with tabbed sections, highlighted passages, and meticulous formatting.

Look, I’m clearly sympathetic to the plight of the anal retentive. I try to be a detail-oriented kind of gal in dealing with large amounts of information and documents, and I can appreciate someone wanting to have everythihg formatted in an easy to read style.

But the LA Times article is giving off a distinctively creepy vibe with regard to Scooter Libby, and I’m wondering who in that WH inner circle is craven enough to plunge that knife deeper into Libby’s back to save his own skin. (*cough* Rove? *cough* Bartlett? *cough* McClellan *cough*…well, I could go on, but it’s a long list of possibilities.)

After Wilson published a book criticizing the administration in April 2004, during the closely fought presidential campaign, Libby became consumed by passages that he believed were inaccurate or unfair to Cheney, former aides said. He ordered up a meticulous catalog of Wilson’s claims and public statements going back to early 2003.

The result was a packet that included excerpts from press clips and television transcripts of Wilson’s statements that were divided into categories, such as “political ties” or “WMD.”

The compendium used boldfaced type to call attention to certain comments by Wilson, such as one in the Daily Iowan, the University of Iowa student newspaper, in which Wilson was quoted as calling Cheney “a lying son of a bitch.” It also highlighted Wilson’s answers to questions from television journalists about his work with Sen. John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee.

The intensity with which Libby reacted to Wilson had many senior White House staffers puzzled, and few agreed with his counterattack plan or its rationale, former aides said.

Okay, that’s not so beyond the pale. I mean, opposition research is a way of life in Washington, D.C., right? Of course they’d want to keep track of what a critic of the Administration was doing, right? I mean, the extreme anger is a bit unusual, considering you do your best oppo with a cool head — loyalty is one thing, but outright, intense and sustained hatred suggests something a bit deeper than “he said something bad about my boss, that jerk,” doesn’t it?

Then we get to this:

The documents and interviews portray Libby as highly attuned to detail. He dictated the format for internal memos, including that paragraphs be indented.

The documents and interviews show that, when it came to monitoring media coverage of Wilson and other issues affecting the vice president’s reputation, Libby was meticulous. Staffers were instructed to use Nexis and Google to watch even the most obscure publications.

Is it me, or is this anonymous leaker trying to twist that knife a little more in Libby to do some serious damage control for everyone else involved in this mess? But in doing so, are they willingly throwing Cheney under the bus as well?

The article goes on to say that Libby was still working to monitor and engage the debate on Wilson even after the DOJ was contacted by the CIA for an investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s name to the press. And that he had to be smacked down by Dan Bartlett, WH Communications Director from publicly countering Wilson.

Sure, creating this public perception of Libby as obsessed, nutball, loyal staffer might be useful to some others under scrutiny, but is this the strategy that the WH has come up with to distance the Preznit from all of this? “The people who work for me are unstable. It’s not my fault.”

One of the intriguing bits in the article was this piece regarding Liz Cheney excluding a NYTimes reporter from the VP’s plane because he was tired of having to answer difficult questions from them.

During a time of tension between the New York Times and the campaign over coverage, aides recommended that a reporter from the paper be allowed to fly aboard Cheney’s plane with others in the press corps. Liz Cheney had a different idea.

Writing from her Blackberry, a mobile e-mail device, she noted that her father was upset with a story that appeared in that morning’s newspaper, saying: “vp has totally had it with nytimes. This is really not the right time to ask him to charm a reporter from that paper.”

Yes, heaven forbid a public official should have to answer tough questions about decisions that were made in their government. Who could possibly think that might be appropriate or anything? (snark definitely intended)

This case just gets more odd by the moment.

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com