Fitzgerald corrects himself

It is not the case that Scooter Libby told the grand jury that he’d falsely claimed to Judith Miller that the affirmation of the Yellowcake Road story was a “key finding” of the leaked National Intelligence Estimate.

It appears that Patrick Fitzgerald got a key detail wrong in his account of Scooter Libby’s testimony about his “authorized leak” of NIE information to Judith Miller. Libby did not in fact testify that he represented the claim that Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake as a “key finding.”

Of course, it was still dishonest of Libby to leak only the portion of the NIE that backed up the Administration’s story, and to suppress the rest of that Estimate and the National Intelligence Council document (delivered to the White House before the famous Sixteen Words were included in the State of the Union address in 2003) that debunked the whole story. So it’s puzzling that Tom Maguire thinks Libby didn’t lie. And of course there’s no evidence whatever for lying, as opposed to honest mistake, in Fitzgerald’s promptly-corrected submission to the court.

But don’t feel bad, Tom. It was a nice try, and no doubt lots of folks won’t bother to check the facts and will believe you. The same folks will probably be taken in by your argument from Fitzgerald’s silence. Remember, Fitzgerald is a prosecutor, not a blogger. If he wants to charge Cheney with something, he can. But he’s not entitled to put facts unfavorable to Cheney on the record just for laughs. So his failure to say something rude about Cheney (or Bush) allows no inference whatever about whether he has evidence that he could say so truthfully.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com