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Unscripted

And now, sit back and take a little breather with a fantastic and completely unscripted promo video of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell from the days when the voice was more important than the entourage.  Every once in a while, I find a YouTube gem that I just have to share with everyone else.  Love, love, love this one.

This morning's bit of jury news (fresh off Pacer and courtesy of reader TiredFed):  the jury has requested (1) a large flip chart; (2) masking tape; and (3) post-it notes.  Boo yah!  It's an active, detail-oriented and organized jury.  Gotta love it. 

Sometimes, you just need to strip away all the flash and razzle dazzle, and look at things for what they are at the bare minimum.  Get straight to the core, to the heart of whatever it is that you are contemplating.  Here's hoping that the Libby jury has an opportunity to do just that throughout their deliberations — looking solely at the facts and testimony that have been put into evidence throughout the course of the trial.  The judge's staff has put together binders of copies of the evidence, along with the jury instructions and other pertinent materials for each individual juror.  They will also have the original pieces of evidence to see as well.

Things like Vice President Cheney's handwriting on the Wilson op-ed from 7/6/03 — you know, the one that talks about "the wife" and junkets.  And all of Libby's handwritten notes, scrawled out across lots and lots of newspaper clippings and daily meeting notes — days and days of clippings and notes over weeks of time — zeroing in on how to rebut the criticism of the Vice President and the Bush Administration and their run-up to the war in Iraq.  And the lies that were sold to the American public to get us there.

I'm still puzzling over why the defense team kept bringing back in the political elements to put them front and center in the jury's mind for deliberations.  Perhaps it was because there was no realistic way to get them NOT to think about it — in trial work, sometimes your best defense against a bad fact is to get it out on your terms and hope like hell it sticks with the jury that way, so there may have been some measure of that going on during summations.

But the bottom line on all of this is:  stripped to it's bare minimum, and looking at all of the facts in evidence, what will the jury see?  I know what I see, but I have been immersed in the facts of this case for months and months of research and digging, not just what is in evidence in the case, but all of the surrounding information as well. 

For any number of folks on the jury who were not news junkies, who were not all that politically interested, however, a lot of this information is new, and fresh, and not given any real historical context in terms of the wider pictures and machinations and such.

What will they see? 

We'll know soon enough when a verdict is reached by the members of the jury.  But, until then, it is worth thinking long and hard about what this trial has laid out for everyone — inside and outside the courthouse — to see in the full light of day.  In political terms, it is this:  the Vice President of the United States has been running a shadow national security agency, that has had broad and irrefutable impact on the day to day operations of our intelligence and military policymaking, at all levels of government.  And I have never, ever seen something at this level from the Vice President's office — an office that generally is more concerned with attending funerals and making trips on behalf of the President's interests.

It is worth asking, over and over again, was this power formally delegated to Dick Cheney by George Bush, a sort of abdication of the national security portfolio — a tasking, if you will, to someone else?  Or was Dick Cheney doing this all on his own?  Oughtn't we start asking those questions.  Soon.  Because it seems to me that there are an awful lot of clouds over the Bush Administration, and a bunch of them appear to have Dick Cheney's name written all over them.  From Sidney's Salon article today:

"It's not he said, she said," Fitzgerald declared. On the courtroom screen appeared the eight people with whom Libby had discussed Plame nine times. "It's he said, he said, he said, she said, she said, she said, he said, he said. Is this the greatest coincidence in the world?"

"One of the myths is that Wilson's wife is not important." For Cheney and Libby "she wasn't a person. She was an argument. She was a fact to use against Wilson."

The defense left virtually untouched the many witnesses corroborating that Libby sought Plame's identity and spread it. Now Fitzgerald reviewed their unimpeached testimony. Point by point, Fitzgerald deconstructed Cathie Martin's talking points dictated by Cheney, getting down to the irreducible nub of Cheney's obsession, handwritten on a copy of Wilson's New York Times Op-Ed article: "Or did his wife send him on a junket?"

Speaking rapidly in order to fit all his facts into the hour allotted to him, Fitzgerald did not slow his clipped delivery as he came to the most dramatic statement of the trial. "You just think it's coincidence that Cheney was writing this?" he asked rhetorically, before answering his own question. "There is a cloud over the vice president. He wrote on those columns. He had those meetings. He sent Libby off to the meeting with Judith Miller where Plame was discussed. That cloud remains because the defendant obstructed justice. That cloud is there. That cloud is something that we just can't pretend isn't there."

"That cloud" was like the sudden appearance of a thunderhead over the proceedings and the administration. In no uncertain terms, in his most public statement, Fitzgerald made clear that he believed that Cheney was the one behind the crime for which he was prosecuting Libby. It was Cheney who was the boss, Cheney who gave the orders, and Cheney to whom Libby was the loyal soldier, and it is Cheney for whom Libby is covering up.  (emphasis mine)

Sidney's description of the Fitz rebuttal highlights one of my favorite moments of the day on Tuesday — the "he, said, he said, she said, he said…", all the way around the effective graphic that the government used repeatedly as its primary slide for the jury.  One point on that graphic — the two CIA officers who testified, Grenier and Schmall, were represented on the slide with the shield of the CIA, not with photographs — every other person was represented by a headshot photograph.  It was a small reminder of the importance of shielding these national security officers with care from the government  — yet another careful and deft touch, and one to which there was no objection that I heard or saw from Team Libby. 

Jeralyn and I talked about this at lunch, and both of us agreed that had we been defense counsel, we would likely have raised an objection on that at some point, just because it was such a reminder to the jury, over and over again on the visual, that the CIA officers deserved protection.   Jane, Marcy, Jeralyn and I all agreed that it was a great move by the government's attorneys and we were wondering who of the jury would have caught it — or if it was such an understated and subtle reminder that the impression would have simply been left for the jury, without them even realizing where and why.

Just an interesting footnote, perhaps, but sometimes trials can be won and lost on such careful reminders.  But, ultimately, it will be up to the jury as to how they take that and every other impression and piece of information back to the jury room for their deliberations. 

Anyway, hope you enjoy the YouTube — who doesn't love a little Marvin Gaye?  If you've found a fave lately, please share it in the comments.  Enjoy!

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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

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