I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s Plamegate trial finally gets started on Tuesday, promising to reveal the polluted secrets of a dishonest and opportunistic Washington elite. Expect to see Dick Cheney, the first sitting vice president to testify at a criminal trial, squirm as lawyers and witnesses discuss the administration’s cherry-picking of intelligence.
He won’t be alone in his discomfort, joined by the reporters who, according to the Washington Post, “traded freely in gossip and protected their own interests as they worked on one of the big Washington stories of 2003.”
I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s case will put on display the secret strategizing of an administration that cherry-picked information to justify war in Iraq and reporters who traded freely in gossip and protected their own interests as they worked on one of the big Washington stories of 2003.
The estimated six-week trial will pit current and former Bush administration officials against one another and, if Cheney is called as expected, will mark the first time that a sitting vice president has testified in a criminal case. It also will force the media into painful territory, with as many as 10 journalists called to testify for or against an official who was, for some of them, a confidential source.
Besides Cheney, the trial is likely to feature government and media luminaries including NBC’s Tim Russert, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, columnist Robert D. Novak and Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward.
Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity became a popular spectator sport in Washington in the summer of 2004, when reporters were first ordered under threat of jail to reveal their anonymous sources in the administration. In October 2005, Libby was indicted on charges of perjuring himself before a grand jury, making false statements to investigators and obstruction of justice (though he was not one of the leakers to Novak, who first disclosed Plame’s identity).