Meanwhile, Libby's lawyer, William Jeffress, says the special prosecutor's revelation "is a complete sidelight" to the charge against his client, that "It's got nothing to do with Wilson's wife."
Fitzgerald's filing was meant specifically to undermine Libby's claim that the issue of the CIA's employment of Plame was of "peripheral" interest to Libby at the time. He said in the filing that leaks regarding Plame were meant to embarrass Wilson by suggesting his wife had organized a CIA-sponsored trip by Wilson to probe Iraq's alleged purchase of nuclear material -- in short, to suggest his trip resulted from nepotism.Even if the two subjects have something to do with each other, the question is how much weight this evidence has. How do you prove someone is lying when they say they forgot? One way is to prove this is the sort of thing you could not have forgotten because of its connection with something else you were paying intensely close attention to.
Fitzgerald argued, in essence, that the White House effort to rebut Wilson's criticism was so intense, and so preoccupying, that Libby could not have forgotten what he said about Plame. Fitzgerald also noted that Plame's employment was specifically raised as a relevant matter by Cheney, who had directed Libby to disclose information from the NIE.
Quite aside from the prosecution of Scooter Libby are the charges that President Bush was hypocritical for declassifying information to support the war when he has been critical of the unauthorized leaking of information:
[T]he report that the president was himself approving a leak may do serious political damage, said [historian Rick] Shenkman, who has a blog on presidential politics. "It does give the public such a powerful example of hypocrisy that I think it might linger for a while," he said.I hope people will be able to keep these stories straight, but they are complicated and likely to merge, which is, of course, what Bush's critics want.
Scott McClellan, the president's spokesman, disputed the charge of a double standard on leaks. "There is a difference between declassifying information in the national interest and the unauthorized disclosure" of national security information, Mr. McClellan said Friday. Of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, part of which Mr. Libby shared with Judith Miller, then a Times reporter, Mr. McClellan said, "There was nothing in there that would compromise national security."
Mr. McClellan's tone contrasted sharply with that of administration officials after the N.S.A. story broke in December. Mr. Bush told a news conference at the time: "My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."
Others picked up the theme, including Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Porter J. Goss, the C.I.A. director. On Feb. 2, Mr. Goss told a Senate committee, "It is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information."