Libby's spin job

Keith Olbermann tears apart the theory that Bob Woodward's cringeworthy behavior somehow lets Libby off the hook. Or specifically Libby's lawyer's claim that the "disclosure shows that Mr. Fitzgerald’s statement at his press conference of October 28, 2005 that Mr. Libby was the first government official to tell a reporter about Mr. Wilson’s wife was totally inaccurate."

The problem with that leap of logic:


But Fitzgerald didn’t say just that. The transcript of Fitzgerald’s news conference is not disputed - nobody from his office has called up trying to get it altered after the fact. On October 28, in his opening statement Fitzgerald actually said: "Mr. Libby was the first government official known to have told a reporter" about Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife.
That word "known" is a significant qualifier. And although much later, in the question-and-answer portion of his news conference, Fitzgerald described Libby as "at the beginning of the chain of phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter," the second statement cannot simply be used in preference to the first. Either the qualifier - expressed virtually at the outset - is considered still in force, or both versions ("first official" and "first government official known") have to be included.
Even if the idea that somebody else in the administration might’ve beaten Libby to the leaking punch is relevant to a trial on five counts of lying, the cornerstone of the Wells statement is erroneous - at best, a serious misinterpretation. Fitzgerald was clearly and meticulously leaving his case open in case an earlier leaker later turned up - as evidently he just did.
This is no one-word parsing nonsense. Not only does that meaning of "known" change entirely the meaning of Fitzgerald's statement, but its related root words (know, knowing, knowingly etc) have been the keys to whether or not anybody was indicted for revealing Plame's covert status at the CIA.
The problem, of course, is that such subtlety can shoot right past those who either want to miss it, or are in too much of a hurry to check the transcript. I read Wells’ quote and thought 'that doesn’t sound right.' The producers of ABC’s World News Tonight read Wells’ quote and evidently didn’t hear any such alarm bells. The transcript is not yet out, but at 6:30 EST last night, Elizabeth Vargas stated - and I am paraphrasing - that the Woodward revelations were important because they contradicted Patrick Fitzgerald’s statement that Libby was the first to leak.
He has much more HERE.
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