Did Libby Obstruct Justice?

The New York Times published two lengthy pieces on the CIA leak scandal — one personal account by reporter Judith Miller and one investigative piece by staff. For two pieces that comprise over 8700 words, there isn’t much useful information conveyed.

One thing did stick out: both pieces suggest that Scooter Libby, the Vice President’s chief of staff, may have engaged in obstruction of justice.

In 2004, according to an account by Miller, Libby’s lawyer Joseph Tate sought assurances that Miller’s testimony would exonerate Libby:

According to Ms. Miller, this was what [Miller’s attorney Floyd] Abrams told her about his conversation with Mr. Tate: “He was pressing about what you would say. When I wouldn’t give him an assurance that you would exonerate Libby, if you were to cooperate, he then immediately gave me this, ‘Don’t go there, or, we don’t want you there.’


Mr. Abrams said: “On more than one occasion, Mr. Tate asked me for a recitation of what Ms. Miller would say. I did not provide one.”

Tate denies the conversation ever occurred. Miller writes in her own article that the letter she received from Libby last month could be perceived as an effort to manipulate her testimony:

Mr. Fitzgerald asked me to read the final three paragraphs aloud to the grand jury. “The public report of every other reporter’s testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame’s name or identity with me,” Mr. Libby wrote.

The prosecutor asked my reaction to those words. I replied that this portion of the letter had surprised me because it might be perceived as an effort by Mr. Libby to suggest that I, too, would say we had not discussed Ms. Plame’s identity. Yet my notes suggested that we had discussed her job.

The Financial Times reported last week that “speculation is increasing that Mr Fitzgerald may be considering other charges, such as perjury or obstruction of justice.” Looks like that speculation may be well-founded.