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Libby Live: Libby Grand Jury Testimony, One

Gimme some truth!

The grand jury testimony of Lewis Libby begins with him stating his name, followed by this exchange:

Fitzgerald: And do you have a nickname?"

Libby: Yes, Scooter. 

F: Can you give us a description of how you got the name Scooter?

L: Are we classified here? (explains, but very vaguely, saying it's a relatively common nickname in the South)

And away we go… presumably, there will be fewer interruptions in the replayed testimony. (Famous last words?)

NOTES:  (1) This is not an official transcript — just a very loose paraphrase, at best — so don't treat it as one.  (2) I'll tell you the time at the end of each update; expect about 15-20 minutes before the next one.  The hamsters that run the servers will appreciate it if you don't refresh excessively in the meantime.  (3) I didn't write the book on the Valerie Plame outing — but you should buy it, if you haven't already.  My own previous writings on Plamemania can be found here.  (4) My own notes will be in parentheses and italics.

F: Why don't you tell the grand jury what your titles and job descriptions are?

L:  I have three job titles — Asst to President, Chief of Staff to VP, and National Security Adviser to VP.  As NSA to VP, I offer advice to the VP, represent the VP in deputies' meetings on these issues and report back, communicate with WH staff on these issues and report back.  I also occasionally communicate with the press on behalf of the VP.

F:  What intelligence clearances do you have?

L:  Top Secret and Secret Compartmented Intelligence (describes various "compartments," many of which he has access to)

F:  What access to classified documents do you have?

L:  I have a lot of access to classified documents.  My day usually starts at 7am with an intelligence briefing, usually with the vice president… I also receive 30-40 pages of analyses.

F:  Do you sometimes read the raw intelligence behind the summaries?

L:  Yes.

F:  Does the VP?

L: Umm… yes.

This is followed by a listing of the OVP communications staff, plus "on the record," "off the record, etc."

It's 3:30. 

F: Introduces subject of Novak article… did you talk to Novak while the article was being prepared?

L: I think I only talked to him once in that time frame, about a week and a half after the article appeared.

F: (asks a follow-up question that I missed — sorry!)[update from comments: Did you have any contacts with Novak prior to July 2003?]

L: (something about whether he talked to Novak before article that I didn't catch — probably very worth parsing)[update from comments: Only other contact was about a year before the time in question.]

F: Introduces subject of Iraq, uranium, and Niger.  Were you aware of doubts about this?

L: Yes, but I think it had to do with whether Iraq could actually procure the uranium, rather than whether they tried to get it.

F: Introduces Kristof NYT article in May 2003.  Would you consider this an article critical of the administration?

L: Yes, it includes critical remarks.

F: Do you recall the administration's reactions?

L: My personal reaction was about a person involved saying the VP's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal. That certainly caught my eye.

F: (Cites some other criticisms) 

L: (Agrees that they are criticisms)

F: Who did you discuss this article with?

L: With my deputy, and probably with the VP, although I don't specifically recall it.  The day or two after it came out, I don't think I talked to anyone besides my deputy.

F: What about after that?

L:  The content kept coming up — in early June, Walter Pincus of the Washington Post was writing an article on the subject, and around then I talked to the VP, and our CIA briefer about whether we sent an ambassador.

F: Do you remember if sometime between early May and early June, you talked to Marc Grossman of the State Dept about the Kristof article?

L: No (implying he sees Grossman regularly, doesn't remember) I don't recall any conversation about this.

F: Is that something you would recall if you had discussed it?

L: (pause) I don't recall a conversation. 

It's 3:45. 

F: Asks about conversation with VP about Pincus article.

L: Tells about VP talking about ambassador, adding offhand that his wife works for CiA — rough quote: "There were no names at this point, so I didn't know who either the ambassador or his wife was."  VP gave three talking points for Pincus — (1) we did not request a mission to Niger, (2) we didn't see any report until after the State of the Union, and (3) he had seen the NIE, which he considered more authoritative.

Cheney also mentioned that other departments (such as State) were asking about Niger, but that shouldn't be part of the talking points — only CIA should say that.  

From context, Libby assumed that ambassador's wife worked in a "functional office" of the CIA.

F: Asks about Cheney offhand remark about wife

L:  Just sort of, "Isn't this interesting"

F: Did he say anything about the wife having a role in sending Wilson on the trip?

L: I don't recall that.

Time for a jury break.  It's 3:57. 

(Ten minutes later…)

Walton:  How long is the grand jury testimony?

Fitz: Eight hours total, then some exhibits, then Russert.  (So long, mystery witness?)  We're on target to finish Wednesday morning.

(GJ testimony replay begins again)

F: Let me go back to the conversation with your briefer, Craig Schmall.   Was that before or after your conversation with the VP?

L: I don't think I have a date in my notes.  I don't recall.

F: Was it in a daily briefing?

L: It might have been in a briefing, or in a phone call on the side.

F: Was the VP there?

L: Probably not — if it was in person, I wouldn't waste his time with my questions.

(F. whips out notes about Schmall briefing, shows them to Libby.)

F: Is that your handwriting?

L: Yes, sir.

F: Is it safe to say you have your own shorthand?

L: Yes, my apologies:

F: You are SL?

L: Yes.

F: The Vice President is this Y with a line over it?

L: Yes.

F: These type of notes, what would you do with them?

L: This type of note, save it in a file… some notes I take are action items, something I need to talk to the VP about that day.  If there is something I want to save, I will copy it to a separate piece of paper and save that.

F: Would you cross off action items when they are done?

L: Usually, or if it wasn't done and not worth further attention.

F:  This is a note that you kept from June 9th.  Anything that made you want to keep this for your file?

L: Press requests about whether we had requested the mission.

F: Note says "No OVP request for mission" … this Q is Iraq, and AFT is Africa?

L: Yes 

F: And "Was DR request in 3-03"?

L: According to Craig, Donald Rumsfeld had made a request in March '03.

F: Brings out other memo dated June 9, 2003.  Walks through similarities to other note.

L: Yes, this is one I copied over. 

F: With same indents and punctuation?

L: Yes, the indents mean something to me.

F: Do you have a practice of copying like this?

L:  Yes, because then I would discard the first sheet

F: The first check on the item on theis page, does this show that the President was interested in the Kristof article and the State of the Union?

L: Yes.

F: Did you ever discuss the President's interest with the VP?

L: No.

F: Did you ever discuss it with the President?

L: No

F: Who would have told you about it?

L: Could have been senior staff meeting.

F: Brings up INR memo dated June 10, 2003.  How did you hear of it?

L: At the end of September, there was a meeting in the Situation Room under the White House, and the Secretary of State alluded to the fact that a memo written by the State Dept. much, much earlier that discussed origins of Wilson trip.

F: When was the meeting?

L: A couple of days after the investigation became public (on Sept. 28, 2003), so Sept. 30th.

F: Did you ever see it?

L:  Was handed to him during GJ testimony — handed it back on lawyer's advice since he hadn't read it. 

F: Again asks whether Libby ever talked to Grossman of State Dept. about Wilson

L: Don't recall.

F: Anyone else you did speak to?

L: John McLaughlin of CIA — FBI mentioned Bob Grenier.  I remember talking to Grenier about something, it could have been this.

F: Asks again about Grossman

L: Don't recall. 

Short break to pass an exhibit out to the jury. (Whew!)  It's 4:31. 

F: Gives L. notes of conversation with Cheney.  Explain the date:

L: June 12, but this symbol means I'm not sure.

F: What's this to the right?

L: It's a note later explaining that this is a telephone conversation with the VP about Iraq uranium and the Kristof article… it's indicating that this is something someone told the VP… and then this says the wife works for the Counterproliferation Division.

At some point he switches from telling me what someone else told him to talking points for the press — e.g., that we didn't know about forgeries until the IAEA said so. (these are the three/four points mentioned earlier — but "forgeries" somehow replaces the NIE as point three??) 

F: Under the 12, were you correcting something?

L: Might ahve been an 18, then corrected it to 12… realized it wasn't the 18th.  I couldn't tell without a microscope. (laughs)

F: Do you know how much later you added the material about VP, Kristof, Iraq, etc.?   June, July, October?

L: Might have been June, but I don't know.

F: Before or after investigation began?

L: No.

F: Did you make notes on any documents after investigation began?

L: Nlo.

F: Why did you make the correction?

L: Because conversation was before Pincus article, which appeared 6-12 (talking points were for Pincus) 

F: (Confirms that this was VP telling SL)

L: (Explains how his notations confirm this)

F: What was Cheney's tone in telling you about wife

L: Curiosity

F: And your reaction?

L: Curiosity.  Might mean something, maybe not.

F: Do you remember talking to Grenier about Wilson's wife

L: No, not about that.   

F Why might you have talked to him?

L: Wanted information from his boss McLaughlin, who was unavailable but VP wanted to know ASAP

F: Did you talk to Pincus?

L: Yes, and gave talking points

F: Whips out Pincus article

L: (reads) We could be the source for some of this, I don't know.

(They pick through lines in article)

F: "Cheney and his office did not know about the mission…"

L: Yes, I could be the source for that.

(Grand jurors take lunch break… media room pines for it to be true.) 

F: When you spoke with Cheney, was there a problem with telling

L: Didn't think it was a point worth mentioning

F: VP thought it was intereresting enough to tell you, and you were interested enough to write it down… did you think it might elucidate Pincus?

L: wasn't a talking point Cheney gave me, and those seemed sufficient

F: Did you feel prohibited from mentioning it to Pincus?

L: No.

F: Can you rule out the possibility that you told Pincus about Wilson's wife?

L: I don't think I did.  I have no recollection of doing it.  I'm reasonably certain I did not. (Fitz asks several different ways, same response each time)

F: Conversaition with VP was before Pincus, right?

L: Yes.

F: And was first time you heard it?

L: Yes, although my recollection is not perfect.

It's 4:56.

F. trots out note from June 3rd saying to talk to Pincus… did you talk to Pincus about anything besides the June 12 article?

L: There were some Pincus articles in May, but I don't know what this note refers to.  Had heard from Cathie Martin… Pincus article was in works for a little while (i.e., I think he means a June 3rd note could refer to the eventual June 12 article).

Judge Walton stops the tape — it's 5:00.  School's out!  See ya later.

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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 (