Beat the Press: Libby Defends Right to Subpoena Media

The story hasn't been on the media radar much of late, but the legal team of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former Bush admin official at the center of the Valerie Plame Wilson leak investigation, came out swinging this week, landing a number of blows against reporters and news organizations in a court filing defending Libby's desire to compel them to submit evidence he deems essential to his defense.

After the Libby team began poking holes in the stories of journalists Tim Russert, Judith Miller, and Matt Cooper and others, the press hasn't been especially interested in following the story. There are a few blogs doing a good job of chronicling the battle between Libby and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. One such blog is JustOneMinute, which has provided a PDF version (and some cogent analysis) of Libby's most recent filing in two parts, here and here.

The American Thinker has a great summary of the filing by attorney Clarice Feldman:

We have just been granted a window on the struggle between Lewis “Scooter” Libby and the elite media over his access to their internal documents. Libby is charged with federal crimes because his versions of conversations with reporters differ from the accounts of the media people. He seeks evidence from their files about what they knew and what they privately wrote at the time. In a “he said/she said” confrontation, access to supporting evidence becomes critical to the ability to mount a defense.

Late Monday night Libby filed a Motion in Response to the media’s efforts to quash his subpoenas for documents in their possession. At last, after a three year one-sided smear campaign by the elite media and by an unsupervised and careless Special Counsel, Libby gets to show us the flimsiness of the case against him.

He also shows us the considerable embarrassment facing pillars of the media establishment and the utter un-tenability of any further claims for press privilege. Given what these pleadings reveal, a testimonial privilege for reporters would amount to a figurative license to kill those with whom they have political or other disagreements.

Lots more great analysis from the Strata-Sphere (here and here):

When we get into the details on each reporter - the defense strategy becomes clear. For Miller the challenge idea is to expose the caveats and hedges in Miller’s statements regarding the three conversations she had with Libby (which only go to count 1, which is the weakest charge). The filing notes Miller’s own words which completely undermine Fitzgerald’s tortured interpretations that there are hard facts among all these vague recollections:

For example, she [Miller] has written that she testified to the grand jury only that she ‘believed [her June 23 meeting with Mr. Libby] was the first time [she] had been told that Mr. Wilson’s wife might work for the CIA.” …She was even more equivocal with her New York Times colleagues, telling them that her notes ‘leaves open the possibility that Mr. Libby told her [on June 23 that] Mr. Wilson’s wife might work at the agency.”

As I pointed out in this earlier post, when you read Miller’s account of discussions regarding the June 23rd meeting it is clearly possible (and likely) Libby never mentioned the name “Joe Wilson” at all. Libby is noted as saying “some clandestine guy” by Miller early on. Then there are notes discussing Wilson. But the notes are not quotes from Libby - as if Miller had known beforehand the guy Libby was anonymously referring to!

Whoever the first leaker was (Richard Armitage?), he or she has not been indicted by Fitzgerald, an indication that his investigation is less about punishing someone who revealed "classified" information, and more to placate the elite media's desire to bash the Bush Administration.
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013