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The November 2006 Captain Renault Award for Feigned Ignorance

Capt. Renault A grown man who prefers to be called Scooter

The Associated Press informs us this afternoon:

Attorneys for former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby dismissed the idea of a White House plot to leak a CIA operative's identity to the press and said Libby plans to tell jurors at his perjury trial that he had no reason to lie.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent years investigating who leaked Valerie Plame Wilson's identity to syndicated columnist Robert Novak in 2003. While nobody was charged with the leak, Libby is accused of lying to investigators about his conversations with reporters.

Fitzgerald wants to keep most of that backstory out of Libby's trial in January. But in court documents filed Tuesday, defense attorneys said they have a right to argue that Libby doesn't believe he did anything wrong.

Novak's story ran as Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, criticized the Bush administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq. Former State Department official Richard Armitage has acknowledged being the source for Novak's column, a fact that neither defense attorneys nor prosecutors discussed in legal filings until Tuesday.

"It is doubtful that anyone committed an 'underlying crime' here," Libby's lawyers wrote. "The government's investigation began as an effort to discover which government officials had 'leaked' Ms. Wilson's affiliation with the CIA to Mr. Novak. After years of overheated media speculation that Ms. Wilson's identity had been publicly revealed as part of a White House plot to wreak revenge on her husband, Mr. Armitage (who was no White House ally) finally confirmed in August 2006 that he was Mr. Novak's primary source."

. . . Fitzgerald has not specifically commented on that allegation. In court papers, he has argued that the upcoming trial should not be a forum to debate the leak itself or question why Libby was charged and others weren't.

Now, I'll leave it to the resident Plameologists (and the esteemed M. T. Wheeler, when and if she has the opportunity) to list in luxurious, encyclopedic detail all of the many reasons that the "underlying crime" extends well past Armitage's conversation with Novakula, and why Libby was up to his treasonous earlobes in the whole mess.  The point is, none of it will be a surprise to Irving Lewis Scooter Libby and his lawyers.

They know damn well that there was a crime, and that Fitzgerald is probably looking forward to prosecuting someone for it as soon as the perjury case is done.  So Team Libby just wants a sneak preview of what kind of case Fitzgerald has built against him (and, by extension, against Scooter's boss, Big Dick Cheney).

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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (