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Scooter Libby’s State of Mind


A persistent catchphrase during the legal arguments in the Scooter Libby trial, as eavesdropped on by emptywheel and myself over the past few weeks, is "state of mind."  What was Libby's state of mind during July 2003, as Valerie Plame Wilson was being outed as a CIA employee — was he preoccupied by national-security worries, as the defense claims, or focused intently on combatting the criticisms of Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, as special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is trying to prove?  

In this respect, the tactics of Scooter's legal team have been unintentionally revealing.  Just in today's live-blogging, EW has caught Judge Walton's ironic deflection of an argument that an assertion of Tim Russert's lawyer to Fitzgerald shouldn't be accepted at face value: "In the same way that I respect you make accurate representations to me, I trust them."  At least I assume Walton was seasoning his words with a heavy dose of sarcasm (or ironic regret), since much of the morning was spent debating the implications and remedies for several moving-target claims made by the defense.  And the end of the day offered more of the same, with Fitz showing increasing exasperation at the obvious game-playing and posturing.

Consider Team Libby's track record since the opening arguments:  A head fake that Scooter's defense would be based on pleading that he was scapegoated in order to protect Karl Rove.  Bogus rumors that Rove and Dan Bartlett would be forced to testify. Bogus rumors flat-out assertions by defense lawyers that VP Dick Cheney would testify on Libby's behalf.  And even more cynically bogus claims that Libby himself would take the stand, woven into a ploy to introduce a dubious "memory defense" and try for a mistrial by demanding access to large quantities of classified material.

Doesn't all this "go to Libby's state of mind," as the lawyers put it?  Obsessed with ends that always seem to justify the means, cutting legal corners without any hint of shame, believing that it's acceptable to say anything in order to win (or at least muddy up) the day's news cycle?

If you ask me, that's the state of mind which got Scooter into this mess, and may yet put him behind bars. 

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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 (