06 March 2007

From Now On, It's Plead the 5th All The Way, Baby

Denis Collins said, "We asked ourselves, what is HE doing here? Where is Rove and all these other guys....He was the fall guy."

He said they believed that Vice President Cheney did "task him to talk to reporters."

He said, "some jurors said at one point, 'We wish we weren't judging Libby...this sucks."

Asked about Vice President Cheney not testifying, he said, "Having Cheney testifying would have been interesting." And when the defense opened the trial by suggesting that Libby was scapegoated by the White House, "I thought we might get to see President Bush here."

He also said that they found Tim Russert of NBC "very credible" and the defense "badgering" Judy Miller may have hurt them as some jurors developed "sympathy" for her. Even though she admitted having a "bad memory," the fact that she had notes counted a lot in her favor, he said.

Collins, a journalist who has written for The Washington Post and other newspapers, described the jury's painstaking deliberations. He said there were several "managerial types" on the jury and they spent many days just assembling post-it notes in some kind or "buildings blocks" fashion. They did not take an immediately straw vote.

The above from Editor & Publisher (typos included, I think this piece will get polished some soon, so my quotation will probably look different from the final copy, be interesting to see if the content changes as well). So it's OK that the jury was hoping to have bigger fish to fry, but settled on frying Libby, anyway? It's OK that many of the main witnesses were journalist and you have a journalist on the jury? Something doesn't smell right about this verdict. Sure sounds like they were glad they were able to punish anybody connected with the Bush Administration for anything, guilty or not. Also seems like the Libby defense team should have demanded this trial be held in a different venue where the jurors were less likely to be steeped in DC gossip (which is the 3rd favorite currency behind, money and influence in that town).

Let's remember that he wasn't convicted for leaking, but he was convicted for lying in the course of an ongoing prosecution, his defense for lying was that he told the truth as he remembered it. Seems very difficult to prove one way or the other on this one. Yet, a jury of 'his peers' (or at least his enemies peers), had no trouble discerning the difference between an honest mistake and an outright fabrication.

After this trial, and the Martha Stewart trial (which this strongly resembles), and the Clinton impeachment, it's crystal clear that your best bet is to plead the 5th from the very start, don't cooperate on anything, if you don't say anything you can't be trapped into claims of later lies. There is no compelling reason or compelling force to cooperate with prosecutors if they are going to prosecute you for things you say during an investigation.

Exercising your 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination are supposed not to hurt you in court, but shouldn't that also mean that some reasonable amount of leeway be given to folks who ignore their 5th amendment rights and cooperate?

This sets up overwhelming disincentives for cooperation while putting all the incentives on clamming up.

Had Martha just clammed up, their investigation against her would have fallen apart, as it did even after she spoke, had Scooter shut up, they had nothing tying him to Plame, until he spoke, and even then it was tenuous and wasn't enough to prosecute on, and as far as President Clinton, he tried to claim Executive Privilege to prevent being deposed, but once deposed, he could still have exercised his 5th amendment rights like any other citizen (and clearly should have in retrospect, would have saved everyone a lot of trouble).

From now on, if you know that the charges against you are primarily political in nature, just STFU!!!

(and that goes for everyone, regardless of party affiliation)

No comments: