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Why the Trail of Plame Leads to (or Through) Scooter Libby

Digby, as usual, is right:

The shrieking harpies are about to go berserk. Scooter was denied his request to stay out of jail on appeal.

I hear there is going to be a candlelight vigil at the Lincoln memorial led by David Broder and Mary Matalin tonight. . . .

The rest of the DC insiders are planning to fan out onto TV later today to emit primal screams and flagellate themselves, after which they will gather in various secret locations to drink martinis and pray.

They shall overcome.

What are we to do as the Wurlitzer cranks up its sad song of poor, suffering Scooter? Well, here’s a few talking points (hopefully concise enough for use with friends and family) that may be helpful in responding to the most common canards of the wingnut chorus, either direct or as laundered through concerned wankers centrists like David Broder:

Bogus Spin #1: Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald went after Libby even after learning that Richard Armitage had been Bob Novak’s “primary source” for his column outing Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA employee.

Wrong. Armitage made his admission in early October 2003, nearly three months before Fitzgerald was appointed. So it should be clear that Fitzgerald wasn’t appointed just to find out who leaked to Novak. In fact, this means that — even with Armitage’s confession in hand — there was so much evidence of wrongdoing that a longtime GOP loyalist like John Ashcroft felt he had no choice but to recuse himself and allow the appointment of a special counsel.

Bogus Spin #2: Even so, Libby wasn’t the only one who leaked about Plame.

Maybe not, but it turns out that every other Bush administration who leaked did so as a result of information they got as a result of Libby’s actions. Ari Fleischer testified during Scooter’s trial that Libby told him over lunch about Plame working for the CIA, and Karl Rove reportedly told a similar story to the grand jury that indicted Libby. Meanwhile, Armitage and Bushite press flack Dan Bartlett both found out through a State Department memo that was produced in response to questions that Libby had asked a top department official about Wilson’s trip to Niger. If Libby (and his boss, Dick Cheney) had been content to reply to Wilson’s criticisms on their merits rather than by rattling cages in search of fodder for personal attacks, none of the other officials would ever have been able to leak about Plame.

Bogus Spin #3: The trial was just Libby’s word against that of a bunch of reporters.

Although three reporters did testify, they were preceded on the stand by six different government officials who each testified to having conversations with Libby about Joe Wilson’s wife before the date when Libby first claimed to have heard it from a reporter. It was these officials’ testimony, more than that of the reporters, that convicted Libby.

Bogus Spin #4: Libby was convicted for having a faulty memory.

It’s never mentioned in the mainstream media, but Scooter didn’t just “forget” telling reporters about Joe Wilson’s wife working for the CIA, and deny it when he really had told them.

No, Libby’s “faulty memory” caused him not only to deny where he had learned about Plame — a note produced in the trial showed Vice President Cheney had told him she worked in the Counterproliferation Department of the CIA (where the majority of employees are covert) — but to invent stories saying he HAD leaked to reporters when he hadn’t. He claimed to have been the first to tell Matt Cooper about Wilson’s wife, thereby covering up the fact that Karl Rove had done so. And he shielded Fleischer by falsely claiming to have told the Post’s Glenn Kessler as well, apparently trying to cover for the Post’s October 12, 2003 report that a journalist for the Post (who turned out to be Walter Pincus) had been leaked to — a news story that was found, with key passages underlined, in Libby’s files.

Thus Libby was convicted not just of perjury but of intentionally lying in order to obstruct the investigation, and rightly so.

Please add your own preferred spin repellants in the comments. And for more Plamemaniac trial fodder, here for your auditory enjoyment is Pachacutec’s report from the courthouse.

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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 (