Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sue the Bastards

Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame have filed a civil suit against Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Scooter Libby.

The lawsuit accuses Cheney, Libby, Rove and 10 unnamed administration officials or political operatives of putting the Wilsons and their children’s lives at risk by exposing Plame.

“This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of … (Plame), whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer and who risked her life for her country,” the Wilsons’ lawyers said in the lawsuit.

Specifically, the lawsuit accuses the White House officials of violating the Wilsons’ constitutional rights to equal protection and freedom of speech. It also accuses the officials of violating the couple’s privacy rights.

Of course the righties will heap scorn and mockery upon the Wilsons, accusing them of being publicity hounds or just being a nuisance, bent on preventing the president — who is never wrong — and the vice president from doing everything they can to fight the war on evil-doers.

I have two words for the righties: Paula Jones.

Ms. Jones sued Bill Clinton while he was president for sexual harassment that allegedly occurred when he was the governor of Arkansas. The righties lined up behind her and urged her to sue the president, paid her legal fees, got her a complete make-over, press agent, book deal, and fought all the way to the Supreme Court to ensure that a sitting president could be sued. They proclaimed it a great victory for the rule of law when the Supreme Court allowed the suit to go forward.

Oh, righties were ever so serious about ensuring that a lowly citizen like Ms. Jones had the right to have her day in court and seek redress for the grievous wrong done to her. It would prove that no man is above the law and, most importantly, it would prove that even the president is accountable for his actions. The fact that the alleged incident happened before Mr. Clinton was elected president apparently had no bearing on the case; Ms. Jones’s complaint was so urgent that her backers insisted it be dealt with immediately. So thanks to the righties, including one eager lawyer named Ann Coulter, the suit went forward until it was finally tossed as groundless; the judge ruled that Ms. Jones couldn’t prove any damages. Ms. Jones later settled out of court for $850,000.

The righties will say the Wilson/Plame case is different than the Jones case. Yes, it is. Rove, Cheney, and Libby conspired to discredit the Wilsons by leaking classified information to the press in retribution for Mr. Wilson embarrassing the White House. They did this in the course of their duties in the Bush administration, not while they were private citizens, and allegedly at the direction of the president himself. To be fair, there is no record of any of the respondents in the Wilson/Plame case having made sexual overtures (crude or otherwise) to the plaintiffs.

Whether or not the Wilsons can prove damages is up to the court to decide. But thanks to the right-wing noise machine — and Ann Coulter — the road to the courthouse was made a lot smoother. If the righties don’t like it, they have only themselves to blame.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Scooter: Pardon Me

Joe DiGenova, perpetual talking head and Bush administration trial balloonist, is putting out the word that Scooter Libby will be pardoned by President Bush.

“These are the kinds of cases in which historically presidents have given pardons,” said the veteran Republican attorney.

The White House remains mum on the president’s intentions. Spokeswoman Dana Perino declined to comment Friday.

Bush has powerful incentives to pardon Libby, however. They range from rewarding past loyalty to ending the awkward revelations emerging from pretrial motions, a flow that could worsen in his trial next year.

It would be in keeping with the mindset of this administration to pardon Mr. Libby; I’m actually surprised that it hasn’t happened already. After all, the Rule of Law, which we heard so much about in 1999, applies to Everybody Else. But holding high-powered and connected Bush administration officials accountable for their misdeeds while in office? Not a chance. They never make mistakes, and when they do, they do it for the good of the nation, to preserve the status quo, to prevent evil-doers and prosecutors from digging into their lives.

As president, Bush has constitutional power to issue a pardon at any time — even before a crime is charged. And presidents of both parties have pardoned political friends.

In 1974, for example, President Gerald Ford pardoned ex-President Richard Nixon for any crimes he might have committed. In 2001, President Bill Clinton pardoned convicted political friends as he left office.

You can be sure that if Bush pardons Libby, the righties will haul out their new best excuse for everything: Clinton Did It. The difference is that when Mr. Clinton pardoned such people as former Cabinet Secretary Henry Cisneros and Whitewater scapegoat Susan McDougal, they had already been through their trials; Ms. McDougal had even served time in shackles for refusing to commit perjury for Kenneth Starr. The Republicans have a tendency to act before the trial takes place — Casper Weinberger was pardoned by the first President Bush just before he went on trial for Iran-Contra, and of course there’s the famous example of President Ford pardoning Richard Nixon before charges were even brought up.

If Mr. Bush has any plans to pardon Scooter, chances are he will do it sometime in November, depending on the outcome of the mid-term elections.

If Republicans retain control of Congress, Bush could act swiftly. But if Democrats win control of the House or Senate, Bush might wait, and use Libby’s trial as an excuse not to cooperate with any congressional investigations into the leak.

The counterargument to a pardon this year or next, however, is that it would be a political bombshell and distract from Bush’s agenda.

What an interesting turn of events. The Republicans complain that the prosecution of Libby is the result of the “criminalization of policy differences,” yet they have no problem with politicizing a criminal procedure.

IOKIYAR strikes again.

(HT to TPM.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Poor Pitiful Karl

Josh Marshall nails it.

Jonah Goldberg has this one line post up at The Corner.

So where does Karl Rove report to get his reputation back?

It occurs to me that this may be meant in jest. Jonah is not without a sense of humor. But I’ll assume for the sake of discussion that he’s being serious.

As Andrew Sullivan aptly quips, maybe Rove can go look for it in South Carolina. More to the point, let’s not forget the salient facts here. The question going back three years ago now is whether Karl Rove knowingly participated in leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative for the purpose of discrediting a political opponent who was revealing information about the White House’s use of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

That was the issue. From the beginning, Rove, through Scott McClellan, denied that he did any of that. There weren’t even any clever circumlocutions. He just lied. From admissions from Rove, filings in the Libby case, and uncontradicted reportage, we know as clearly as we ever can that Rove did do each of those things.

So he did do what he was suspected of and he did lie about it.

Now, I’m happy to take Patrick Fitzgerald’s word for it, his evaluation of the evidence, that there’s not enough evidence to indict Rove on any criminal charge. As Rove’s defenders have long made clear, the underlying statute dealing with revealing the identities of covert operatives is very hard to bring a charge with. Same goes for making false statements or perjury. Hard to prove and you need lots of evidence as to intent and so forth.

In fact, not only am I happy to take Fitzgerald’s word for it, if this is in fact the case, good for Fitzgerald. A prosecutor’s role is not to punish people for malicious acts. It is to ascertain whether they’ve committed specific criminal acts and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain a charge.

But none of this changes the fact, for which there is abundant evidence, even admissions from Rove himself, that he did the malicious act. And he lied about doing it. Indeed, on top of that, President Bush welched on his promise to can anyone who was involved.

So, what reputation is it exactly that Rove wants back? I think this development leaves Rove’s reputation quite intact.

Karl Rove will be enshrined in the pantheon of the right wing’s vast Monument to Victimhood, next to the poor maligned Christians who are such martyrs because only 80% of the country identifies themselves as nominally Christian, or maybe next to the beleaguered traditional family values heterosexuals whose marriages are threatened every time two boys hold hands.

All he did was leak classified information to a reporter in order to exact political revenge against someone who had the temerity to embarrass the president. And for that he gets to keep his taxpayer-funded White House job as the political adviser, and he gets to keep his security clearance.

Oh, the shame, the shame.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

NY Times: Rove Won’t Be Indicted

According to the New York Times, the previous post just became, as Nixon White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler once said, “inoperative.”

The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case on Monday advised Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, that he would not be charged with any wrongdoing, effectively ending the nearly three-year criminal investigation that had at times focused intensely on Mr. Rove.

The decision by the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, announced in a letter to Mr. Rove’s lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, lifted a pall that had hung over Mr. Rove who testified on five occasions to a federal grand jury about his involvement in the disclosure of an intelligence officer’s identity.

In a statement, Mr. Luskin said, “On June 12, 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove.”


In his statement Mr. Luskin said he would not address other legal questions surrounding Mr. Fitzgerald’s decision. He added, “In deference to the pending case, we will not make any further public statements about the subject matter of the investigation. We believe that the Special Counsel’s decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove’s conduct.”

Well, there you are.

If it is any consolation, Scooter Libby is still going on trial for his involvement in the Plame case, and that should make life a tad uncomfortable for the White House. And if Karl Rove is off the hook in terms of his legal status, it means that he will still be working in the White House, and with Tom DeLay gone, he is the most visible symbol of right-wing political manipulation and skulduggery around. It will not be hard to lay all of the mischief, miscreancy, and arrogance of the 2006 mid-term elections at his feet. And it will make our victories that much sweeter.

By the way, any bets on who will be the first right-winger to holler “Neener neener!” and claim that Mr. Rove was the innocent victim of the left-wing lib’rul MSM rush to judgement and that we all owe him a humble apology, the more humiliating the better?

Given the climate, I doubt that will happen. Dodging bullets is the newest sport in D.C., and seeing as how there weren’t a whole lot of mea culpas and apologies when the Clinton impeachment failed — if anything, it got worse — I’m not holding my breath.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dick on the Stand

From the New York Times:

A court filing on Wednesday by the special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case suggested that Vice President Dick Cheney would testify as a government witness in the trial of his former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr.

The legal brief did not say with certainty that Mr. Cheney would be called as a witness. But the latest filing, like earlier court papers, underscored the prosecutor’s contention that the vice president’s role was critical to understanding Mr. Libby’s wrongdoing. But the new filing was the first to indicate that Mr. Cheney himself might be called as a government witness.

On the issue of whether Mr. Cheney will testify, the brief said, “Contrary to defendant’s assertion, the government has not represented that it does not intend to call the vice president as a witness at trial.”

The prosecution brief, signed by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, added, “To the best of government’s counsel’s recollection, the government has not commented on whether it intends to call the vice president as a witness.”

I seem to recall a lawyer friend of mine telling me that you really don’t want to call a witness to the stand who is more likely to annoy the jury than the defendant, even if he’s a witness for the prosecution.

In this case, they might be more afraid of him than anything, especially if he knocked back a cool one during lunch. Imagine the transcript:

COURT CLERK: Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

WITNESS: Go fuck yourself.

Let’s see them put that on Law & Order.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

It Wasn’t About the Truth

Murray Waas strikes again.

Vice President Dick Cheney directed his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, on July 12, 2003 to leak to the media portions of a then-highly classified CIA report that Cheney hoped would undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, a critic of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy, according to Libby’s grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case and sources who have read the classified report.


The previously unreported grand jury testimony is significant because only hours after Cheney reportedly instructed Libby to disclose information from the CIA report, Libby divulged to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper that Plame was a CIA officer, and that she been involved in selecting her husband for the Niger mission.

Both Libby and Cheney have repeatedly insisted that the vice president never encouraged, directed, or authorized Libby to disclose Plame’s identity. In a court filing on April 12, Libby’s attorneys reiterated: “Consistent with his grand jury testimony, Mr. Libby does not contend that he was instructed to make any disclosures concerning Ms. Wilson [Plame] by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, or anyone else.”

President Bush has insisted that he declassified the NIE for the sole purpose of letting the American people know “the truth” about the decisions to go to war in Iraq.

And chickens use dental floss.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Clip and Save

This article from TAPPED has all the counterpoints you’ll need to win an argument with your right-wing pals on the Libby/Cheney/Bush leak story.

The emerging right-wing spin about the leak revelations was perfectly captured in John Podhoretz’s column today in the New York Post. Since these arguments are certain to be aired again and again in coming days, they need to be debunked, and quickly. And it’s remarkably easy to do.

The Pod makes three points, all of which are soon to be chanted in unison by countless winger commentators. He says:

1) The leak wasn’t really a leak because it was authorized by the president, and a “leak” is the “unauthorized release of government information.”

This one’s easy to knock down. First, a leak doesn’t suddenly become a non-leak because it was secretly “authorized” by a higher-up. Plenty of info is leaked with tacit authorization from above, and we all agree to call that “leaking.” This info certainly was leaked, in the sense that it was passed on confidentially by Libby to a reporter who wasn’t supposed to reveal the source of it. In other words, the info was supposed to get out — without anyone knowing where it came from or who authorized it. By contrast, if the info had been “released,” to use Pod’s preferred word, the administration would publicly own up to being the source for it. So yes, it was a leak.

As for Pod’s argument that the president “can’t leak” — another pushback rapidly gaining currency — keep in mind that the president isn’t the one who is accused of doing the leaking. Rather, Bush is accused of authorizing the leak. Libby carried it out.

2) Pod also argues essentially that Bush was pushing back against Joe Wilson’s slander, so it was OK.

Pod appears to be saying that this isn’t a leak because the motive behind it was defensible. This is just silly — and indeed, it undermines his own case. Even if you agree that the administration’s rebuttal of Wilson was correct, that doesn’t change the simple fact that Bush’s authorization of the leak was political in nature. Indeed, if the argument is that Bush had to protect himself against a political attack with some sort of pushback, that reinforces, rather than undercuts, the idea that the leak was political. So Libby revealed that Bush authorized the leaking of classified info to achieve a political goal — and that’s a no-no.

3) Pod’s final argument is that much or all of the National Intelligence Estimate was public already, so it couldn’t have been leaked. Pod says:

On Oct. 7, 2002, nine months before Bush’s supposed “leak,” the administration released an unclassified version of the very same NIE at the urging of Senate Democrats.

This is startlingly flimsy. Pod is talking about the fact that in October 2002, then Senator Bob Graham demanded the declassification of parts of the CIA’s NIE before the congressional vote on the war. Graham subsequently said some parts had been declassified — but by no means was the whole NIE, or even much of it, declassified. How do we know this? Because on July 18, 2003 — after Bush authorized the leak — a senior administration official held a press briefing in which he declassified key portions of the NIE. Pod can read the briefing itself right here. It was also covered the next day in The Times, Washington Post and elsewhere. So why would this senior official have held this declassification briefing if, as Pod says, an “unclassified version” of the NIE had been declassified “nine months” earlier? Answer: He wouldn’t have.

What’s more, it’s obvious that whatever was declassified in October 2002 wasn’t the portion that Libby says Bush authorized for leaking. Why, if Pod were right, would Libby have needed to ask Cheney lawyer David Addington if leaking the info was kosher, as he had testified? Answer: He wouldn’t have. And why would Addington have opined that the president’s authorization effectively declassified the info if, as Pod says, it was already declassified? He wouldn’t have.

So to recap: Libby has revealed that Bush authorized a leak of classified info for political purposes. End of story.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Going Nowhere

The New York Times picks up on the Scooter-Cheney-Bush leak story:

Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff testified that he was authorized by President Bush, through Mr. Cheney, in July 2003 to disclose key parts of what until then was a classified prewar intelligence estimate on Iraq, according to a new court filing.

The testimony by the former official, I. Lewis Libby Jr., cited in a court filing by the government made late Wednesday, provides an indication that Mr. Bush, who has long criticized leaks of secret information as a threat to national security, may have played a direct role in authorizing disclosure of the intelligence report on Iraq.

Permit me to throw a little cold water on my fellow bloggers who are saying that this is the straw that will break the camel’s back and finally bring down the Bush administration in flames.

Not gonna happen.

There will be no inquiry by the press who sat through a White House briefing staring at Scott McClellan like a herd of Shropshire sheep. The Congress will certainly not investigate this, and it will not revitalize Sen. Feingold’s censure motion. Impeachment? No way.

This isn’t because it isn’t worth looking into. As I said yesterday, even if the president can legally declassify anything he wants, that doesn’t make it right, especially if the motive is for political revenge. But in the culture of win-at-any-cost that runs Capitol Hill politics, the administration’s defenders will never acknowledge that Mr. Bush can ever do anything wrong, and within this mindset — the “we’re at war and therefore anything goes” — the warriors are saying that the enemy is anyone that doesn’t follow along in the lockstep of the administration. They will set up a cornfield full of straw man arguments to make everything seem perfectly normal. Move on, nothing to see here.

We have yet to see the level at which the Republicans will say “enough is enough” with this administration, and if disclosing state secrets to cover your ass in the press doesn’t do it (but a blowjob does), nothing will.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

On What Scooter Told Them

From the National Journal:

Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff has testified that President Bush authorized him to disclose the contents of a highly classified intelligence assessment to the media to defend the Bush administration’s decision to go to war with Iraq, according to papers filed in federal court on Wednesday by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case.

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby testified to a federal grand jury that he had received “approval from the President through the Vice President” to divulge portions of a National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein’s purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to the court papers. Libby was said to have testified that such presidential authorization to disclose classified information was “unique in his recollection,” the court papers further said.

Libby also testified that an administration lawyer told him that Bush, by authorizing the disclosure of classified information, had in effect declassified the information. Legal experts disagree on whether the president has the authority to declassify information on his own.

Legal experts may disagree, but just because the president might have the authority to declassify material doesn’t mean he should. If the motivation for doing so was purely to defend the decision to go to war to a skeptical press or to embarrass his political opponents, it’s wrong whether or not it was legal.

It also makes you wonder what else Scooter told them…

Farhad Manjoo at’s War Room speculates on the hows and whys this went down.

[F]rom what we know about how this White House works — or, really, about how any hierarchical organization probably works — Libby’s story does make a kind of intuitive sense. Libby was Cheney’s chief of staff; it doesn’t seem likely that he would have undertaken to counter the Wilson claims all by himself, without first checking at least with his boss. Moreover, Libby understood well that the NIE was a classified document, and, working for Bush and Cheney — for whom secrecy is sacrosanct — it doesn’t seem plausible that he would have discussed the document without at least checking with higher-ups. Cheney, as many have pointed out, has expanded the vice president’s powers of classification and declassification; Cheney has suggested that he can declassify documents all by himself. Libby, then, would have had a motive in asking Cheney whether it was OK to talk about the NIE to reporters — permission from Cheney would have cleared Libby of any wrongdoing in discussing the classified information. Permission from Bush was even better.

Still doesn’t make it right.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What About Woodward?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know what to make about all the permutations of Bob Woodward’s revelations in the CIA leak case other than it now sounds like we have two reporters instead of just one — Judith Miller — who kept things from their editors. But a couple of things seem pretty clear to me.

Scooter Libby’s attorneys seem to be heartened by the news that someone else other than Mr. Libby leaked the name of Ms. Plame to a reporter. I suppose that would be good news if Mr. Libby was under indictment for leaking the name of Ms. Plame, but he isn’t. He’s been indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice; Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald specifically didn’t indict anyone for leaking.

Also, the Conventional Wisdom seems to be that since there was more than one person leaking the name to more reporters, that somehow gets Mr. Libby and Karl Rove off the hook. Huh? All that means is that there are more people to investigate; the “everybody did it” defense doesn’t exonerate one person; anyone who watches Law and Order knows that if three people conspire to commit a murder, they’re all culpable, not just the guy who pulled the trigger.

This kind of defense coming from a White House that prided itself in being secretive and leak-proof is, to quote the immortal bard, “passing strange.” But I suppose when they consider that it is perfectly acceptable to do whatever it takes to obliterate their opponents for political gain and revenge, anything goes.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

A Little Late

From the Washington Post:

President Bush has ordered White House staff to attend mandatory briefings beginning next week on ethical behavior and the handling of classified material after the indictment last week of a senior administration official in the CIA leak probe.

According to a memo sent to aides yesterday, Bush expects all White House staff to adhere to the “spirit as well as the letter” of all ethics laws and rules. As a result, “the White House counsel’s office will conduct a series of presentations next week that will provide refresher lectures on general ethics rules, including the rules of governing the protection of classified information,” according to the memo, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post by a senior White House aide.

The mandatory ethics primer is the first step Bush plans to take in coming weeks in response to the CIA leak probe that led to the indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, and which still threatens Karl Rove, the deputy White House chief of staff. Libby was indicted last week in connection with the two-year investigation. He resigned when the indictment was announced and on Thursday pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to federal investigators and a grand jury about his conversations with reporters.


Next week’s meeting is for West Wing aides with security clearance, which allows them to view and discuss sensitive or classified material. Information about Plame was classified. Rove is among those aides who must attend.

“There will be no exceptions,” the memo states.

This is like locking the barn after the horse has been turned into Alpo.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Where’s the Kitty?

Yesterday was a nice “look-at-the-kitty” moment, but just in case you thought the appointment of Judge Alito would blast all the other news to the Style section, well, not so fast. This is from A02 in the Washington Post:

Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, is expected to plead not guilty to charges that he lied and obstructed justice in the CIA leak probe when he is arraigned Thursday, setting the stage for a possible courtroom fight in which Libby’s interests could collide with those of the Bush White House, according to several Republican officials.

Libby, who was charged with five felonies, is putting the finishing touches on a new legal and public relations team. It will argue in court and in public that he is guilty of nothing more than having a foggy memory and a hectic schedule, according to people close to him. He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court before Judge Reggie B. Walton.

[…]… Republicans worry that Libby’s court fight will force President Bush to deal with the prospect of top officials testifying and embarrassing disclosures of how the White House operates and treats critics.

It is also possible, they note, that Libby will strike a plea agreement and avert a public trial.

“Obviously, the best thing for the Republican Party is to have this all end as quickly as possible,” said former representative Vin Weber (R-Minn.), a close White House adviser. “But at the end of the day, you cannot ask a guy who all of us think is an upstanding and honorable guy to give up his legal rights.”


Criminal defense lawyers say Cheney would probably be called as a witness in any trial, to verify and recount the conversation he had with Libby on June 12, 2003. At that time, Cheney allegedly told Libby that Plame worked in the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division.

A senior White House adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic, said the Bush team believes it dodged a bullet when Fitzgerald charged only Libby on Friday and then pointedly said in his news conference that the indictment should not be read as a condemnation of the war or its run-up.

Meanwhile, Karl Rove isn’t out of the woods.

“Everyone thinks it is over for Karl and they are wrong,” a source close to Rove said. The strategist’s legal and political advisers “by no means think the part of the investigation concerning Karl is closed.”

[Time reporter Matt] Cooper’s attorney, Dick Sauber, said Fitzgerald certainly meant it when he told Luskin last week that Rove remains in legal jeopardy and under investigation. “It wouldn’t surprise me knowing how careful he is and how much he doesn’t want to be seen as trigger-happy, that he is going through each of those things [that Rove presented] and seeing if they can be verified or not,” Sauber said.

“But no prosecutor wants to be embarrassed in court by something he didn’t know. And no prosecutor, especially Pat Fitzgerald, wants to be seen as unfair — especially in this kind of matter with so much at stake.”

The best part about something like this is that just because it isn’t on page A01 doesn’t mean it goes away. If history is any guide, these things have a habit of blowing up at the worst possible time for the parties involved. Regardless of the outcome — plea bargain, conviction, or acquittal — there’s no way this isn’t going to be burbling news for the next twelve months or so, and Election Day 2006 is 371 days away.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Libby Is Indicted and Has Resigned

From CNN:

Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, indicted by grand jury on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury in CIA leak probe.

Fox News, according to Wonkette, is reporting that he has resigned.

The Office of Special Counsel website is expected to post the entire statement at some point.

Note that Mr. Libby has been indicted, as expected, not for outing Valerie Plame, but for lying to the grand jury and obstruction of justice. The Republicans have already trotted out the dead horse that it’s pretty thin soup to only indict for the cover-up when you can’t prove the crime. Okay, so then we can expect the Republicans to walk back the impeachment of Bill Clinton for the very same charges and forget the whole thing? I think not.

We can’t forget the larger story behind all of this: people in the Bush administration actively pursued someone who criticized their efforts to get us into the war in Iraq, and in doing so they used classified information to exact that revenge. It’s not just about the lying to the grand jury. It’s the whole trail of getting us into a war under suspicious circumstances that needs to be investigated, and we also have to ask ourselves whether or not we should really be comfortable having people who do things like this in charge of the government. Some would say that this is political hardball and it’s the way they do things in Washington, D.C. and there’s a fine line between political retribution and breaking the law. No, there is not. The line isn’t fine at all. To anyone with a sense of moral decency the line is a huge flashing neon sign that makes the Las Vegas strip look like a night-light. If you can’t see it, you have no business being anywhere near a position of power or being in the position of influencing the agenda of this government.

To the credit of the Bush administration, there has been no proof that anyone got a blowjob in the White House. At least we’re safe from moral degeneracy on that point.

Updated at 1:37 p.m.