Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ari Fleisher is the immunized witness.

Jerilyn Merrit of Talkleft has pointed out that Ari Fleisher is a very dangerous witness for Libby. She has also pointed out that he is the only witness to whom Fitzgerald has given immunity. Why? What does he have to say that is so important?
Check out Fitz's affidavit from August, 2004 submitted in the Judith Miller subpoena suit, which was unsealed by the Court in February, 2006. You can read the unredacted portions in the Court's opinion here or in my prior summary with lengthy quotes.

It's not just that Libby allegedly told Fleischer at lunch on July 7 before Fleischer left for Africa with President Bush that Joseph Wilson's wife worked in the Counterproliferation area of the CIA and that she was involved in the decision to send Wilson to Niger. It's that Fleisher told Fitz and the grand jury that Libby told him the information was "hush-hush" and "on the qt."
For example, then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer recalls that over lunch on July 7, the day before Libby's meeting with Miller, Libby told him, "[T]he Vice-President did not send Ambassador Wilson to Niger . . . the CIA sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger. . . . [H]e was sent by his wife. . . . [S]he works in . . . the Counterproliferation area of the CIA." (II-545-47.) Describing the lunch as "kind of weird" (II-590-91), and noting that Libby typically "operated in a very closed-lip fashion" (II-592), Fleischer recalled that Libby "added something along the lines of, you know, this is hush-hush, nobody knows about this. This is on the q.t." (II-546-47.) Though Libby remembers the lunch meeting, and even says he thanked Fleischer for making a statement about the Niger issue, he denies discussing Wilson's wife. (I-108-09, 156, 226-27.)
Libby is denying he discussed Valerie Wilson with Fleischer at lunch on July 7. He either has to destroy Fleischer's credibility at trial--or else convince the jury that Fleischer was mistaken. He stated as much in his Third Motion to Compel, filed March 17:
On cross-examination at trial, the defense will be entitled to question Mr. Fleischer on issues such as: (1) when and how he learned about Ms. Wilson's identity; (2) the nature of his conversations with reporters; and (3) any efforts he undertook to criticize Mr. Wilson. If the press reports are correct, and Mr. Fleischer disclosed information concerning Ms. Wilson to reporters, he himself may have been a subject of Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation. Mr. Fleischer may thus have a motive to shade his testimony. Such possible bias will be vigorously explored on cross-examination."
The date and the information Ari Fleisher gives (July 7 - prior to publishing Robert Novak's column.) rather clearly shows that Libby knew of Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA status before it was published by Novak. He also was pointing out how secret and sensitive the information was. Did he then forget when a few months later he spoke to the Grand Jury? That's really stretching credulity.

I wonder if Libby plans to testify in his own behalf?

1 comment:

Jeralyn said...

I'm not sure Fleischer is the only immunized witness, as opposed to the only confirmed one. I suspect Cathie Martin has been immunized as well, but we shall see.

Thanks for the link.

Jeralyn