Back before the trial started, I noted this passage from Libby's theory of his defense.
Mr. Libby further contends that when the investigation began, he was confident that he had not provided any information about Mr. Wilson's wife to Robert Novak, and that he had not disclosed classified information about Mr. Wilson or his wife to any other reporters. Further, Mr. Libby was well aware when he was first interviewed by the FBI and when he testified to the grand jury that the investigators could and likely would talk to the journalists he spoke with concerning Ambassador Wilson and that those journalists would truthfully recount their recollections of the conversations he had with them.
Here's how that passage now reads, after several weeks in a court room (thanks to Jeralyn for passing the filing on).
Mr. Libby further contends that when the investigation began, he knew that he had not provided any information about Ms. Wilson to Robert Novak. He also contends that he did not know that Ms. Wilson’s employment status was covert or classified and that he did not knowingly disclose classified information about Ms. Wilson to any reporters. Further, Mr. Libby was well aware when he was first interviewed by the FBI and when he testified to the grand jury that the investigators could and likely would talk to government officials and the journalists he spoke with concerning Ambassador Wilson and that those officials and journalists would truthfully recount their recollections of the conversations he had with them.
Before I start talking about these changes, let me note that Fitzgerald is fighting against Libby being able to say he believed journalists would testify. From yesterday's tedium [see, I excerpt it to save you the pain!]:
Walton Next sentence, I think his waivers would be sufficient to cover first part of sentence.
Fitz waiver (on journalists) signed in January, there's no basis for evidence in October.
Walton the last one, would journalists testify truthfully
Fitz, that would go back to the first part of the sentence, since there [was] no waiver.
Walton I need something in writing.
Fitz We'll give you that tonight.
In other words, Fitzgerald is arguing that, since Libby had not yet signed waivers for journalists to testify (and in fact refused to do so at his second FBI appearance) there is no factual predicate for him to suggest that he had reason to believe the FBI would ask journalists to testify, and even less expectation they would do so. We'll see what Walton makes of that argument.
But now let's look at the three main changes, taken in jumbled order:
- The inclusion of government officials among those Libby expected would testify
- A seeming growing certainty that he didn't leak Plame's identity to Novak
- A seeming acknowledgment that Libby did leak classified information to journalists
The inclusion of government officials among those Libby expected would testify
This one is the less interesting change. It seems to reflect an acknowledgment that the government witnesses--people like the competent Cathie Martin, the banal David Addington, and TYOI John Hannah pose as great a threat to Libby as do the journalists. This is right on--I have always said Fleischer, Martin, and Addington would be some of the most important witnesses. And who knew that the guy in charge of launching an unjustified war on Iran would be caught so easily in Fitzgerald's traps!
But the belated inclusion of government officials says one more thing to me--it says that Libby didn't realize how damning those little tidbits describing his behavior from leak week really would be. John Hannah got flipped from being the surrogate Scooter and Shooter into the best witnesses to the importance of Libby's Judy Judy Judy meeting on July 8.
A seeming growing certainty that he didn't leak Plame's identity to Novak
Back in January, it seems that Libby was just confident--but not certain--that he had not leaked any info on Plame to Novak. Well, five weeks and Novak's testimony later, Libby retrospectively got much more certain that he didn't leak Plame's identity to Novak. You gotta wonder how much that inkling of doubt about Novak's testimony must have been keeping Libby up nights.
I guess Novak, too, is connected at the roots.
A seeming acknowledgment that Libby did leak classified information to journalists
This is the most interesting. After all the wailing from the Right about Aldrich Ames, and then Joe Wilson, outing that low-level desk clerk Valerie Plame, it now seems that Libby is publicly acknowledging that he did leak information that turned out to be classified or covert, though he claims he did not know it at the time. I find this stunning, for several reasons.
First, it will make it easier for Fitzgerald to argue that Libby believed he was might to be busted on an IIPA charge, thereby making it easier for him to prove motive.
It also cedes the issue the right has been wailing about for so long. The Administration (a collection of Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer, and Richard Armitage) did out someone who had been classified and possibly even covert. That'll make the Wilson civil suit considerably more interesting.
Most importantly, it solves on problem for the defense but creates another one. The problem it solves is another motive question. One reason, Fitzgerald will argue, that Libby lied and said he learned of Plame's ID from journalists is that it provided a non-classified channel for Libby to have learned of Plame. It seems here that Libby is prepared to cede that he did, in fact, learn of Plame from Cheney. But that Libby just didn't know that most people in counter-proliferation are covert. In other words, Libby is distracting some attention from his attempt to launder his knowledge of Plame through journalists.
But the problem it creates is that, if Fitzgerald ever proves that Cheney ordered Libby to leak Plame's identity on July 8 as I think he might, it removes the claim that the NIE lie has long served. That is--Libby has ceded his ability to argue, at future time, that Cheney declassified Plame's identity and therefore made it peachy for Libby to leak it through Judy Judy Judy.
Well, here's to hoping Fitzgerald has an opportunity to use this admission.