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The Cirque du Soleil Defense, Part I


The transcript from the latest hearing in the Libby indictment case is available.  Jeralyn has been nice enough to host it at TalkLeft, and it’s worth the rather lengthy read for a number of reasons.  I’ve taken some time to go through the whole of the 38 pages and wanted to share some of the highlights — as well as go through some of the definition issues that come up in the legal context that may not be so famliar for our non-legal readers.

Judge Walton began the hearing with a big question as to the materiality and relevence of a lot of Team Libby’s documents requests.  It starts from the very beginning of the hearing (pp. 1 and 2).   The judge has serious questions as to the rationale for the Team Libby requests for documents and discovery which is beyond the scope of the charges — and expresses doubts that he will grant said motions.

In refuting the Judge’s contention that such information is not relevent, Ted Wells, Team Libby’s attorney for this proceeding (and I presume current lead trial counsel, since he’s been taking the front man approach in court proceedings thus far), speaks to the full court press that the Bush Administration was giving toward Amb. Wilson’s claims in July of 2003:

It wasn’t just him [Libby]. He was involved in what was a multi-agency response. It was [sic] office of the vice president. It was the office of the president. (Trans. p. 5)

Aside from the fact that the "office of the President" bit is a "Hello, Karl" moment, I really have to question the kitchen sink defense contortions at this point. I understand the throw whatever you can at the wall and see what sticks methodology, but this is really the far opposite ends of the defense spectrum at this point — and is beginning to feel a whole lot like Ted Wells is auditioning for a Cirque du Soleil contortionists gig if the lawyer thing doesn’t work out.

You just cannot have it both ways in this instance for the defense and here is why:  we started out with the "Scooter’s brain is like swiss cheese, and he had so many important things to tend to that the Wilson’s were only a tiny speck."   (See here, here, here and here on the memory defense issue — and why it was doomed to crash from the start.  "My bad memory made me lie — repeatedly" isn’t exactly a winning phrase for a jury, is it?)

Remember the Scooter memory defense that was floated out a while back?  Clearly a winner, because they’ve now moved on to this one:  "the whole of the Administration was focused on rebutting Wilson, but we were too honorable to play dirty and out his wife, the full court press in the Veep’s office and the President’s office concentrated solely on substance and following the rules of honorable political tactics."

Um….yeah.  That’s says Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney in a nutshell, doesn’t it?

Team Libby is going to have a very tough time indeed if they are going to play such substantially adverse ends of the spectrum against each other at trial in order to raise reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds.  What I think it does is smack of a sort of desperation to find anything, and I mean anything, that can create the tiniest sliver of a smokescreen.  And I think Fitzgerald and his team of lawyers and investigators will be able to dispel that tactic handily with actual evidence to the contrary.

On p. 6, we find an allegation that because Marc Grossman and Amb. Wilson attended college at the same time and that both worked for the State Department at various times that overlapped throughout their careers, that this is an inference that Grossman is not to be trusted — or at least that Team Libby is likely to attempt to sell this to the jury as a means to impeach Grossman’s testimony.  (See also the "Matt Cooper is biased toward Wilson" hail mary from the media subpoenas…kind of pathetic, but if it is all you have, I suppose…) 

Look, I went to college with a girl whose father worked at a high level for a large arms manufacturer and defense contractor and sold arms around the world.  You think she and I shared the same perspective and world view?  Nope.  Not on your life.  Like I said, ought to be an interesting sell to the jury — but I’m afraid for Team Libby, they won’t get the chance because the Judge is not buying all the tap dancing maneuvers.

Repeatedly throughout this hearing transcript, the Judge tells Team Libby that he is not buying their theories on bringing the entirety of the rationale for the war in Iraq and the Administration’s foreign policy decisions into this courtroom as a means of defending Libby.  My favorite point was this one:

I don’t mean to cut you off. I could be wrong about tactics, but I mean I don’t know if that’s a battle you want to fight before a District of Columbia jury. (Trans., p. 9)

The fact that Wells had gotten so far off track in his arguments to the court that the Judge felt he needed to bring him back to reality was…well, I thought it was kind of amusing, anyway.

There is a lot more, and I’ll wrap it up in Part II.

(I found this fantastic photo on a Cirque du Soleil fan web page, and I just love it.  For those of you going to Vegas for YearlyKos, there are at least three (if not four) Cirque shows playing right now at various casinos, and I have to say that they are an amazing creative immersion experience.  Well worth it, if you’ve never seen a Cirque show in person — and definitely worth it even if you have, because the staging in Vegas is beyond anything else I’ve seen, other than the show at Walt Disney World.  Just FYI.)

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The Cirque du Soleil Defense, Part II

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