Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Taste it again for the first time: warmed over Ollie North

...or "It pays to improve your Word Power." Yes, I learned a new word, these past few days. "Graymail" (greymail here in Canada), is defined as:
the practice of discouraging a prosecution from proceeding by contending a defendant may need to disclose sensitive information as part of a full defense. Such an approach can force the government to choose between dropping prosecution or allowing information to be disclosed at a trial.
Ok, Ms. Hope&Onions...use it in a sentence!
Fitzgerald accuses Libby of derailing trail by 'graymail' Feb 18, 2006
A federal prosecutor has said I. Lewis Libby Jr., former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is trying to sabotage the criminal case against him by insisting he be given sensitive government documents for his defense.
In a court filing on Thursday night, the prosecutor said requests by Libby's lawyers for documents, including the daily intelligence briefs given to the president for nearly a year, were "a transparent effort at 'graymail."'
The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, said the requests for a large amount of sensitive information beyond what they had been given was unjustified. Fitzgerald told the federal judge hearing the case that defendants like Libby have an incentive to derail trials by asking for documents that the government might not want discussed openly.

So basically the Libby crew is attempting to stall...and stall...and then stall some more. I should hasten to add that the original story about Libby's tactics was actually deep-inside another blockbuster, waaaaay back on Feb 9th: "Cheney 'Authorized' Libby to Leak Classified Information" by Murray Waas, National Journal. Waas has been the man on this Libby/Plame beat...check this shit out:
Libby's legal strategy in asserting that Cheney and other Bush administration officials authorized activities related to the underlying allegations of criminal conduct leveled against him, without approving of or encouraging him to engage in the specific misconduct, is reminiscent of the defense strategy used by Oliver North, who was a National Security Council official in the Reagan administration.
North, a Marine lieutenant colonel assigned to the National Security Council, implemented the Reagan administration's efforts to covertly send arms to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages held in the Middle East, and to covertly fund and provide military assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras at a time when federal law prohibited such activities. Later, it was discovered that North and other Reagan administration officials had diverted funds they had received from the Iranian arms sales to covertly fund the Contras.
If Libby's defense adopts strategies used by North, it might be in part because the strategies largely worked for North and in part because Libby's defense team has quietly retained John D. Cline, who was a defense attorney for North. Cline, a San-Francisco partner at the Jones Day law firm, has specialized in the use of classified information in defending clients charged with wrongdoing in national security cases.
Yes, folks, that's the Oliver North. Oliver frigging North! Woulda, shoulda, but-didn't go-to-jail Oliver North, who now poisons the phosphors of Teevee screens with his Fox show, "War Stories with Oliver North" (I shit you not). Let's recap: Libby has secured the legal assistance of Oliver North's lawyer! (repeat that to yourself five times and then stick a sharp pencil in your eye to dull the pain). Murray Waas continues:
[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]
Among his detractors, Cline is what is known as a "graymail" specialist-an attorney who, critics say, purposely makes onerous demands on the federal government to disclose classified information in the course of defending his clients, in an effort to force the government to dismiss the charges. [...] In the Libby case, Cline has frustrated prosecutors by demanding, as part of pretrial discovery, more than 10 months of the President's Daily Brief, or PDBs, the president's morning intelligence briefing.
Here's the part that gives me hope: Fitzgerald is my secret boyfriend and therefore he would never let these assclowns get away with this bullshit. Back to the Times piece:
Fitzgerald called the request "breathtaking" and noted that the daily brief was "an extraordinarily sensitive document." He said the disclosure of part of the Aug. 6, 2001, daily brief to the 9/11 commission was the sole instance of a daily brief's being publicly disclosed.
Waas elaborates:
In a January 31 court filing, attorneys for Libby argued: "Mr. Libby will show that, in the constant rush of more pressing matters, any errors he made in FBI interviews or grand jury testimony, months after the conversations, were the result of confusion, mistake, faulty memory, rather than a willful intent to deceive."
I like to call this "the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer defense." I'm just a simple caveman. Your "laws" and "courts" frighten and confuse me.
Do not be fooled, my friends. This Libby crew is following a well-worn path. Waas concludes his piece with a history-lesson viz North's experience:
"It was a backdoor way of shutting us down," said one former Iran-Contra prosecutor, who spoke only on the condition that his name not be used, because his current position as a private attorney requires frequent dealings with attorneys who were on the other side of the North case at the time. "It was a cover-up by means of an administrative action, and it was an effective cover-up at that."
[...] The claims by North that his activities had been broadly authorized by higher-ups, including even the president, also worked to his advantage when he was sentenced. Despite the fact that North had been convicted of three felonies and that Iran-Contra prosecutors argued before sentencing that letting North off with "only a slap on the wrist … would send exactly the wrong message … [only] 15 years after Watergate," he was sentenced to only probation, a fine, and community service.
Sidebar: isn't it infuriating to see all these Iran-Contries slither back into positions of power?! Ok, so North's gig on Fox isn't all that powerful. But John Poindexter? After his conviction was overturned, he worked on/off for defense contractors; in 2002, Bush appointed him to the big-brothery "Information Awareness Operations" Pentagon unit. Elliot Abrams? Pardoned by HW Bush, then worked with Richard Perle & neocon PNAC through most of the 90s. Since 2002, Abrams has been the senior director of the National Security Council's Office for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations (blech!! that guy?!). Most interestingly, Abrams joined forces with fellow Iran-Contrie Otto Reich to facilitate the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez. Last but not least: John Negroponte. Yup. You know who that is...from denying death-squads to serving as UN point-man on WMD in Iraq, Negroponte's done it all. You've all come a long way, babies!

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