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February 22, 2007

Why the Libby Trial is Important

As we wait for the jury to return it's verdict in the Scooter Libby perjury trial, it's a good time to stand back and think about why this trial has been important and what we've learned from it.

A few weeks ago, I was on Goldy's radio show at 710 KIRO talking about the Libby Trial.  A young female caller, named Susie, said she didn't see why we were wasting time trying to convict this man over a simple lie when there were such important issues, such as the Iraq War, to be dealing with.  It struck me then that there has not been a widespread understanding of why the Libby Trial is important.  Even if, heaven forbid, the jury doesn't return a conviction, the trial has been worth it for everything we've learned and the focus this trial has put on Dick Cheney's role on taking us into the war.

Ever since Susie's question on the radio, I have been gathering a bunch of articles to write this post on why the trial is important.  Yesterday, the incredible Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake saved me the trouble.  She listed what she sees as the overarching narratives to emerge from the case: 

  1. The administration lied us into war and tried to abuse its power to punish the whistleblower who told the American public the truth.
  2. Scooter is the firewall to Shooter.
  3. Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and other members of the administration conspired to keep federal investigators from uncovering their crimes.
  4. The media was complicit in spreading administration propaganda rather than doing investigative journalism, and are now helping to set the table for a pardon.
  5. The administration lied us into war and tried to abuse its power to punish the whistleblower who told the American public the truth.
  6. The journalistic standards that have been exposed in the case (witness Tim Russert, Judy Miller, Andrea Mitchell, Robert Novak and others) are reprehensible, and have undermined the public trust in the media.
  7. The degree to which this story about the lies that lead to war has been ignored by the media (relative to the feeding frenzy over a Clinton blowjob) left a huge opening that the blogs have filled.

There's also another great video-clip of Jane and Marcy talking big picture. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on February 22, 2007 at 10:40 AM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink


For most of my Rep friends the mere mention of this case creates hostility and then a mass exodus out of the room muttering that you can't trust ANY politician. To a one, they all believe that govt is for the elected and when something like the Libby case comes up it underscores that our govt can't run on autopilot...it needs people, real people to engage. And therein lays the rub, to engage in the facts and nuances of the Libby trial means you personally have to acknowledge that our govt's autopilot is set on a course to run on the rocks and it's time for the crew to put out some oars; time to each of us to put out some oars. Thanks Lynn

Posted by: mainsailset | Feb 22, 2007 4:35:42 PM

You don't have to be Jane Hamsher or Marcy Wheeler to know that the Libby trial is standing in for a number of "big picture" items that are not getting nearly the attention they deserve - but how can they when a network like CNN spends most of the day in a courtroom in Florida covering where Anna Nicole Smith is to be buried, and next in their pipeline is probably the latest news about Britney?

We can only hope that this case is not the end of something, but the beginning, and that Fitzgerald has tugged on the only loose thread he could reasonably get a grip on, and that the whole sordid and shameful mess that is the Bush administration is beginning to unravel.

P.S.: The incredible Jane would probably appreciate it if you spelled her name right: Hamsher. And I think the last part of your #4 appears as #6. Toobz must be wifty today.

Posted by: Anne | Feb 22, 2007 5:23:47 PM

Lynn - You've done an excellent job of covering this trial from start to (almost) finish. Considering that Bush Sr. once said that outing a CIA agent was a heinous crime, let's hope the jury hangs this one around Libby's -- and by extension, Cheney's and Bush Junior's -- neck. If Fitzgearald can get a conviction with this, the stage may be set for going after the WH itself. But, as others have noted, we shouldn't necessarily be expecting it (though I admit that meeting Joe Wilson last fall made me want to see that conviction, for everybody's sake).

Posted by: shoephone | Feb 22, 2007 6:51:47 PM


Toobz being wifty is just an extension of me being wifty today. Thanks and fixed.

I remember being so annoyed in the mid-80's when the press and the people just didn't get what was happening with the Iran-Contra situation, simply did not get how the administration had deliberately gone against laws enacted by Congress to prevent just such a thing. I'm so glad we have our own ways of getting the information and distributing it now.

Posted by: Lynn | Feb 22, 2007 7:09:30 PM

Lynn, it's not too surprising to me that people like Susie don't understand what the fuss is about. The lack of coverage of this trial by the mainstream news has been somewhere between nonexistent and awful. I was trying to find out about the status of the Libby trial yesterday on the CNN site at about 6PM EST, and had to go through several different pages to find an article about it. meanwhile, there were several about the Anna Nicole Smith trial, which is something that won't have much effect on anyone except Smith's daughter.

Posted by: Cujo359 | Feb 22, 2007 11:09:59 PM

Revise that second sentence to read "The of coverage of this trial by the mainstream news has been somewhere between nonexistent and awful." That way you won't have to ponder the mystery of how a lack of coverage can be nonexistent.

Posted by: Cujo359 | Feb 22, 2007 11:34:22 PM

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