In an odd twist in the Scooter Libby trial, a handwritten memo from the VP’s office seems to imply at least knowledge on the part of the president about the personal attacks on Wilson/Plame that has been denied. From the Truthout article by Jason Leopold and Marc Ash.
But Cheney’s notes, which were introduced into evidence Tuesday during Libby’s perjury and obstruction-of-justice trial, call into question the truthfulness of President Bush’s vehement denials about his prior knowledge of the attacks against Wilson. The revelation that Bush may have known all along that there was an effort by members of his office to discredit the former ambassador begs the question: Was the president also aware that senior members of his administration compromised Valerie Plame’s undercover role with the CIA?
Last week, Libby’s attorney Theodore Wells made a stunning pronouncement during opening statements of Libby’s trial. He claimed that the White House had made Libby a scapegoat for the leak to protect Karl Rove – Bush’s political adviser and “right-hand man.”
“Mr. Libby, you will learn, went to the vice president of the United States and met with the vice president in private. Mr. Libby said to the vice president, ‘I think the White House … is trying to set me up. People in the White House want me to be a scapegoat,’” said Wells.
Cheney’s notes seem to help bolster Wells’s defense strategy. Libby’s defense team first discussed the notes – written by Cheney in September 2003 for White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan – during opening statements last week. Wells said Cheney had written “not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his head in the meat grinder because of incompetence of others”: a reference to Libby being asked to deal with the media and vociferously rebut Wilson’s allegations that the Bush administration knowingly “twisted” intelligence to win support for the war in Iraq.
However, when Cheney wrote the notes, he had originally wrote “this Pres.” instead of “that was.”
During cross-examination Tuesday morning, David Addington was asked specific questions about Cheney’s notes and the reference to President Bush. Addington, former counsel to the vice president, was named Cheney’s chief of staff – a position Libby had held before resigning.
“Can you make out what’s crossed out, Mr. Addington?” Wells asked, according to a copy of the transcript of Tuesday’s court proceedings. “It says ‘the guy’ and then it says, ‘this Pres.’ and then that is scratched through,” Addington said.
“OK,” Wells said. “Let’s start again. ‘Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy …’ and then what’s scratched through?” Wells asked Addington again, attempting to establish that Cheney had originally wrote that President Bush personally asked Libby to beat back Wilson’s criticisms.
“T-h-i-s space P-r-e-s,” Addington said, spelling out the words. “And then it’s got a scratch-through.”
“So it looks like ‘this Pres.?’” Wells asked again.
“Yes sir,” Addington said.
As such, Cheney’s notes would have read “not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy this Pres. asked to stick his head in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others.” The words “this Pres.” were crossed out and replaced with “that was” out, but are still clearly legible in the document.
Seems odd that Cheney would have left the memo intact, but if looking at the whole memo you’ll note he was writing at the bottom of a memo to him which I’m assuming came from Scott McClellan since Cheney’s notes were intended for him. The VP stamp at the top of the page may have made it a firm record already. But then why didn’t he scribble it out more thoroughly?
So far nothing in the mainstream media that I can find, but I just did a cursory Google check. It is a bit speculative as to its significance. But at minimum, it raises a serious question.
The photos are from Truthout. Click on them to enlarge.