I'm going to make a not-so-bold prediction. Libby is not going to put Dick Cheney on the stand. And he never intended to.
Here's why. It would be almost impossible to put Cheney on the stand and not expose him to perjury—or force him to reveal that he and Libby talked about leaking Plame's identity with journalists. That's because, according to FBI Agent Bond, Libby testified in his second FBI interview that he and Cheney might have talked about sharing Plame's ID with journalists. So if they put Cheney on the stand, there is almost no way he can answer questions about that July 12 conversation correctly. Either he admits he talked about revealing Plame's identity, or he risks refuting Libby's testimony.
He might opt to admit that he and Libby talked about leaking Plame's identity … if the whole journalist story were more plausible. But there's the rub.
Libby told a story attributing his knowledge, during the
week of July 7, to Tim Russert. If it were true that that's where he got
Plame's identity, then Libby could say he shared the information with Cheney
sometime after the 10th (or 11th, as they will
desperately argue in an attempt to prove that Russert could have learned of
Plame's identity from David Gregory via Ari via Bartlett via the INR memo—my
head is spinning!). And that he and Cheney both learned Plame's identity as if
it were new the week of July 7, from journalists. And that he and Cheney
thought this was news (but apparently didn't think it was news back on June 12,
when they forgot it), and thought they should share it with journalists.
As soon as Libby admitted to talking with Cheney about leaking Plame's identity, he committed to one of two scenarios: either he and Cheney both forgot Plame's identity, both learned it "as if it were new" from journalists, and thought that a piece of news that was forgettable in June was so newsworthy in July that they should share it with journalists. Or, he and Cheney learned of Plame's identity through classified channels and a month later decided to share that information with journalists. We're in the realm of an IIPA violation, folks, barring Cheney claiming that he declassified Valerie Wilson's identity … without telling her (which is where I think Cheney's prepared to go, if it gets that far—that should make the Wilsons' civil suit all the more delectable, I think).
Now there is one out for Scooter and Shooter. Novak. Not
only did Rove tell Libby that Novak's impending column would out Plame. But it
was apparently on the wires on July 11, early enough for Scooter and Shooter to
have learned of Plame's identity once again, "as if it were new,"
without the implausible story of Russert. (This, I suspect, is why Wells
introduced this in his opening statement. He's defending not just Libby, after
all, but the whole cabal, so he needs to provide this kind of out.) This of
course doesn't explain why Libby and
Cheney collectively forgot Plame's identity, having discussed it the previous
month, only to remember it again from Novak, "as if it were new." But
at least it provides them, collectively, a chain of custody that doesn't entail
leaking classified information learned through classified channels if and when
the whole Russert story collapses.
And that's why the mystery non-indictment of Rove and the purported Novak interview post-indictment and the still-unexplained Libby and Novak conversation is so damn enticing. Because Novak and Rove pose different risks for Libby.
Another detail revealed by FBI Agent Bond is that Libby said Rove said that Novak already knew of Plame's identity when he spoke to Rove. That's not a surprise, really—we know Armitage told Novak of Plame, so in fact Novak did know of Plame before he spoke with Libby. But it suggests that Libby testified that Rove never confirmed Plame's identity. By all accounts, however, at some point Rove testified that he did confirm Plame's identity. In other words, Libby's story and Rove's currently operative story probably can't both be true. Rove, of course, seems to suffer from the same curious forgetfulness as Judy Miller, with regard to his source, but there were reports in Fall 2005 that Rove maybe kind of remembered that maybe his source might have been Libby. Not enough to add an indictment on, but enough to make Rove a lousy witness in favor of Libby's story, since it would suggest Libby at some point un-forgot Plame's identity sufficiently to share it with Rove.
Which also might explain why Wells argued, in opening, that the WH threw Libby under the bus to save Rove's hide—it is possible (likely, even) Rove has already testified to something that would ruin Libby's entire little story, and by arguing that Libby got sacrificed to save Rove, they undercut anything Rove might say on the stand.
And then there's Novak. I still believe he'll play a role in this trial. One of the questions Zeidenberg asked FBI Agent Bond, after all, is whether Libby said anything about speaking to Novak during his FBI testimony. I have good reason to believe Libby hid a Novak meeting—hid it for quite some time. And that may be one more detail that gets exposed in this trial. I'm not yet sure what that means, mind you. But I am intrigued by it.
It's possible, of course, that Libby's team, in a fit of desperation, will undertake a scorched earth policy, calling Rove to the stand to expose all of this. (In which case I'd interpret Isikoff's non-story the other day about Rove and Bartlett getting subpoenaed as more than a gratuitous effort to get credit for a false scoop; I'd read it as one move in a giant game of legal chicken.) Boy wouldn't that be delectable! But it appears, at least, that some of the sworn (and unsworn, in the case of Cheney) statements of the key players doesn't coincide.
And one of the quickest ways to make it coincide would be if Scooter and Shooter admitted that they plotted, deliberately, to out Valerie Plame Wilson.