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Libby Live: John Hannah Two


NOTES: (1) This is not a transcript — It's the blogger's approximation, and no one really knows what that is yet! But I do know you shouldn't quote anything not in quotation marks. (2) I'll timestamp the updates and will update about every 15 minutes, servers willing. The hamsters that run the servers will appreciate it if you don't refresh excessively in the meantime. (3) If you're not having enough fun just reading along the liveblog, consider buying my book on this case.

One more note: in (dis)honor of John Hannah's bellicose statements of late, I will not follow my normal practice of referring to witnesses by their initials. Instead, I will refer to him as "TYOI."

Now on Al Qaeda.

TYOI, trying to prevent another 9/11 on American homeland.

C During this period Libby was concerned with threatened attacks on US interests by AQ and other terrorist groups.  During June-July, Libby sought to prevent terrorist groups, incl AQ, from carrying out attacks.

TYOI I'd qualify it, I'm not sure how much my own knowledge goes to time frame. It was a very intense focus from 9/11 on.

C I don't mean to exclude other periods. [Like before 9/11, when they ignored Tenet's hair on fire?]

C Libby trying to prevent terrorist attacks. Concerned that AQ trying to attack US with WMD.

C Concerned that AQ trying to get anthrax, trying to inflict mass casualities

TYOI A continuous concern.

C Talking about these issues, Libby dealt with. That concern manifested day to day?

TYOI Yes. My involvement in specific AQ WMD attacks on homeland was episodic, often as observer, but intensity and regularity of his involvement in those issues very high and very continuous. He was a leader in US govt in all the issues I was concerned with.


A change in tactic!!

C US intell community had told the Admin had said Saddam was pursuing WMD.

TYOI that was the impression left on policy makers that all those things were true.

C US had invaded Iraq by spring of 2003, but could not account for WMD. Nor had coalition forces been able to capture Saddam or top lieutenants.

TYOI I hesitate, Saddam's sons are captured or killed. But they were still on the loose in that time frame.

C COncern that missing WMD was high. [you mean like the unguarded yellowcake at Tuwaitha? That kind of concern?] 

C did Libby have responsibily for enhancing Homeland Security.

TYOI He was the key person within OVP.

C Libby made efforts to understand prospects for mass casualty terrorist attacks.  

TYOI Being aware of Scooter's schedule, it was a continuous concern since 9/11, would have been top concern.

C Let me ask you about 9/11. Did you notice a change in level of concern or focus on Libby's part or OVP on terrorism matters after 9/11.

TYOI It was true for them and most others in the USG [Except for Richard CLarke, who had always been concerned? Or Clinton?]

C Did Libby's level of concern for terrorism increase after 9/11.

TYOI Dramatically so. 

C Libby monitored defenses against WMD and determined they were insufficient to protect against attacks.

Sidebar with CIA's lawyers.


C Libby pressed for resources to prepare against these attacks. Prepare against anthrax.  During period we're talking about Libby was dealing with nuclear proliferation by AQ Khan and efforts to stop his activities. Concerned that AQ KHan held info and materials essential to design and production and was seeking to sell it to hostile powers, including NK, Libya, and Iran. Proliferation would pose a direct threat to US. Considered various means of preventing AQ Khan from proliferating, considered action against his network. [bored journalists start yelling "KHANNN!"] 

C North Korea and nukes. You were aware of concern?

TYOI Very aware, I'd take part in discussions where he would express concerns and views.

C Why important whether NK developed WMD?

TYOI A country that US had fought with, harbored very ill intentions for a country like that, dictatorial, totalitarian regime a concern, in part because also trying to acquire long range missiles.

C NK Had proclaimed it was reprocessing plutonium, Libby assessed course of action [hey, we'll give them Bolton, who'll be sure to mess up any efforts!!! That sounds like a good course of action]

C Two specific events. One involving Turkey, one involving Liberia. Intense crisis from arrest of Turkish soldiers in Iraq. Began shortly after July 4. Following fall of Baghdad in April 2003, Libby sought to improve US relations with Turkey and increase prospects of Turkish support in Iraq, incl by providing Turkish troops. During this time period, Libby supported VP in efforts to respond to Turkish objections to arrest of Special Forces unit in Iraq. SF in civilian dress.

TYOI Some of the details I don't know.

C Do you recall that shortly after July 4, Libby and VP involved in discussions with Turkish PM.

TYOI Between VP and Turkish PM, yes

C did Libby have role in preparing VP on that. How long it took to get matter resolved?

TYOI Better part of the week [actually, it was four days before they got released, hey TYOI, pick me as NSA]

C Turks claim that USG had long known that USG knew of this unit.

TYOI No personal knowledge.

C Arrest caused great concern and animosity. Turks claim troops wrongly seized and humiliated. Required personal intervention of VP to restore relations.

C VP asked to open dialogue with PM. Libby participated in prep for this dialogue. Why was this important

TYOI Immediate neighbor, hopes Turkey might get involved, more broadly, Turkey treaty ally of US, very strong military, in strategic part of the world. All areas of great importance to US. To have a crisis with close treaty ally, was a matter of high importance. [of course, the relationship with close treaty ally France was worth throwing aside.]

C Liberia. Do you recall Libby dealing with unrest in Liberia. Culminate in fall of Charles Taylor. Danger to occupants of US embassy in Monrovia. Libby participated in efforts to respond.  During this period, Libby evaluated this information and timeliness or effectiveness.

TYOI I was not at that point in time responsible for Africa, so he would have been getting those through others. I would have been aware of them. They would have filtered up through me.

C You knew level of concern that Libby was involved in?  Libby assessed info on intent and possible response. Considered threats in Monrovia, considered use of force. Libby was concerned.

TYOI yes.

C We have discussed a number of nat security issues. Some were issues on which you had personal responsibility. Mr Libby responsible for all of these issues. Other nat security issues beyond these ones?  What we've been discussing was part of his job as NSA to VP. That was half his job. [A third, if you count his full time job responding to Joe WIlson]


C Libby also had responsibilities in domestic arena.

TYOI Correct.

Fitz up!!!!

Fitz: Scope of COS as you understood it. Part of it was to protect OVP and VP from public criticism.

TYOI It's not the formulation I would use, Need to go out and truthfully defend office from unfair criticism.

Fitz Especially important if it was directed at integrity of VP or OVP, and integrity of Admin, OVP, VP, in terms of Iraq. 

TYOI It would be important pushback, yes. [he's a lot more reluctant]

F Best time to see Libby was evening, particularly if you focus July 6.  Fair to say during that week, if you said tomorrow morning take an hour or two to go out for coffee, he wouldn't take that time.

TYOI It would be harder.

F If he gave someone an hour or two, it was something Libby thought important.

TYOI WRT me, yes.

[You think Fitz woke up the jury?] 

F We talked before about these documents. [Goes through them and the dates] You have no actual knowledge whether these were read by Libby and if so read by Libby

TYOI  I don't know that

F If we focus on that time frame, following June 9, Libby asked you to focus on researching what it was OVP knew about a trip by former Amb to Niger. You went and canvassed people about the trip, people didn't know about it prior to that time. 

TYOI Nobody had seen a report, nobody was aware of report.

F You came across a report not written by but about Wilson's trip.  You brought this to Libby. When you brought it to Libby. When you went to describe contents of report, Libby already knew what was in the report. Your recollection, by the time you got an answer, he had found answers somewhere else. At time you discussed the report, one of the things foremost was content of report, where it discussed 1999 trip by trade delegation to Niger. 

TYOI That caught people's attention.

F When you went to discuss this report, Libby was discussing with you contents of report that focused on 1999 trip. Early June

TYOI Second week of June

F What was important to VP was important to Libby


Cline Report didn't say anything about Wilson's wife.


Juror questions.


Well, that was fun. And TYOI? He can be damned hesitant when he realizes it's now HIS job to protect the OVP, and he ain't going to be bale to do it.  He was just cleaning his ear out on the stand. Now he has a grimace. I'm going to write a very dry play sometime called "Witness during the Sidebar." What a time to observe the psyches of people.

Juror Questions 

Walton Aside from Libby's difficulty with memory did it lead him to have concerns about his effectiveness?  

TYOI Never

Walton When Libby had memory lapses, what was done to trigger recall of things discussed

TYOI He was quite good at remembering ideas and concepts, very bad at figuring out where they came from, how they came to him. 

Walton Would Libby deny that you had informed him of these things

TYOI Never

[no one caught this]

TYOI This was a fairly regular pattern with Scooter. He was good at remembering his own arguments, key points, key factual points that he would want to make, he was good at keeping his arguments organized.

Walton Nat Seucrity issues greater than, less than, equal to normal level?

TYOI As I said, this period since 9/11 has been particularly intense for any relative period of American foreign policy, that period was particularly intense because of initiative in Iraq, liberation of Iraq and aftermath of that, having that many American forces in that country. Particularly fast moving period of time for top govt officials. More intense period in always intense environment

Walton How would you compare intensity with your responsibilities at this time [It is the year of Iran]

TYOI IN some ways there were such major questions of security, and the situation was so new still in a sense that I'm not sure in the 15 or 16 months taht we've experienced anything quite like that. Iraq was sort of on a course [to hell] There have been a lot of adjustments to that course. Nothing quite like that period of intensity. Together with everything else in the region. A little bit unique, at a higher intensity than I'm forced to deal with

Walton Sec Issues every shortchanged by Libby bc of schedule

TYOI That woudl be unfair criticism. Anybody who worked at these kinds of levels, to get through inbox is a real luxury, to stay ahead of the curve, I'd say he managed as well not only in Nat Sec affairs, as well as any other boss I've worked for [better than Cheney?]

No follow-up questions.

Legal issues to discuss with counsel, and an emergency with another case. Will have to deal with it at 1:30, longer lunch than normal. Recess at this time, Counsel will discuss this legal matter. Jury will be back at 2:30.


Walton I had indicated we would break at 3:30, so I can't do it at 3:30, I'll move it up until 1:30, then we'll sit until 4.

Walton What's the issue.

Fitz: The next witnesses are the 3 CIA briefers. at this point, the CIA briefers should not be called, testimony should not come in, wrt your prior rulings. They should not describe threats, when in fact there is no testimony that Libby was obsessed with those threats. We feel strongly that getting into particularly terrorist threat if there's no evidnece Libby was consumed with it, it should not be entered. We saw that issue coming in questions from jurors in their notes. To introduce these, without context of how many terrorist threats were normal. You'll recall that your hands were tied if Libby were to testify.

Walton Counsel will be unable to qualify the extent to which info would have impacted Libby. Only Libby would have capacity to say so. The fact he was briefed on something, The issue becomes whether jury could infer whether this was some level of importance. They would be able to assess that bc of nature of info it would have had some level of importance.

Fitz when we went through two months of hearings, it was clear to me, that the 403 line was drawn differently when it was represented that Libby would testify. It was this fact that made him worry, your honor took a much broader view of relevance and unfair prejudice when that representation was done. With a switch done, that now Libby is not going to testify. In effect CIPA has said defendants are better off when they deal with classified evidence. BC they can say they were consumed by this

Walton COunsel will lose ability to calibrate the impact of this. Not so sure that they can't say this was infor provided to him. Jury is intelligent enough to draw own conclusions, that would have had some level of import

Fitz I'm focused less on defense argument, your honor let in additional materials.

Walton, there may be specific things I ruled on contingent on Libby testify, these were predicated on my understanding that Libby would testify. To extent that those rulings are flawed bc he's not.

F We should not be in position where bar got lowered bc he's not testifying. We're doubly worse off, this is getting in without him testifying.

Walton If the briefers testimony that I briefed him on XY and Z, I've got to consider each item.

F The MIB's that we talked about were predicated on his testimony, with taht predication, if that's gone, they shouldn't be coming in at all.

Walton Documents themselves, you may be right. I never indicated documents would come in.

F We'll pull the cite, I don't want to misstate, it's been a long trial. But I believe you said evidence regarding MIB would not be admissible.

Walton I can't be bound by rulings I made earlier when landscape has changed. You may be right, but I have to reevaluate to what extent evidence might come in.

F Whole point of CIPA was for govt to know what was going to happen before trial. Then when defense says, never mind, we're not going to testify, now Defense is saying that comes in anyway. 


Walton Not going to be any evidence regarding whether this overwhelmed him wrt Wilson and his wife.

Cline has a "what you talking about look" on his face.

Bonamici yesterday you made a very good point, there's a difference between quantity and quality. The govt heeded the distinction you made, the kind of evidence that would come in when defendant did not testify. It was based on that distinction that govt did not object to TYOI's testimony.

Walton Morning briefing info is just a list

B It shows nothing about quantity at all.

Walton I ruled the others stuff that he'd be able to introduce those details.

B You specifically ruled on page 19 that MIBs represented what govt considered important, rather than what Libby thought was important. Just titles of items, You're inviting jury to speculate, no opportunity to develop context, no way to cross examine Libby on relative importance. What you have now, he attends these on almost daily basis, sometimes he inquires about the info, sometimes he does not. We do recognize distinction on matters that he inquired and did not. We're objecting to those matters that he did not make inquiries about. other than supposition that we can all make that something of that nature was bad. That's not appropriate type of testimony that would support introduction of evidence. We understand that Libby entitled to change his mind and not testify. But unfair to lower bar to ZERO which is what the bar would be now, and relevance is purely speculative. Courts routinely exclusde evidence where relevance is speculative.

Cline Talking about general introduction of this. Your honor permitted articles, because he read them, he was focused on 16 words, these are inferences govt wanted to draw. We want to counter it. We ought to be able to show, overload, inundation

Walton Relative importance is not going to be an issue, and I would hope that no one would defy my on that.

Fitz We heard with TYOI

Walton There was no objection. If there was an objection I would have ruled against it.

Fitz it's put in for the purpose that Libby was overloaded or consumed. There's a difference between jury being overloaded, and experienced National Security Advisor, Jury does not have same baseline. when Libby hears multiple terror plots every day. It'd be hard to cross-examine Libby, I can't say to them "you don't know what LIbby was thinking."

Walton They can't say he was consumed by it. They can ask rhetorically.  

Fitz They're getting all the benefit of having said it, there's no witness with state of mind Libby has, they're getting all the upside. It's a bait and switch. Here's how we get past 403, bc he's testifying, but now he's not testifying.

Walton: We've got to take a break. Will be back at 2:30. See you then. 

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.