LIBBY AND CHENEY

Some more nuances from National Journal’s Murray Waas:

Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources…

[A]dministration officials said in interviews that they cannot recall another instance in which Cheney and Libby played such direct personal roles in denying foreign policy papers to a congressional committee, and that in doing so they overruled White House staff and lawyers who advised that the materials should be turned over to the Senate panel.

I’m not sure what the salience of this new information is. But if Libby is indicted Friday, a critical question will be the role of the vice-president in the actions of his chief-of-staff. This may be a political rather than legal question. How credible is it that Libby would have done what he did without Cheney’s knowledge? They were joined at the hip in what was, to my mind, an understandable post-9/11 attempt to make sure that the CIA wasn’t being complacent about Saddam’s WMD program. But what if they over-reached in the process? Or unwittingly or wittingly set Colin Powell up at the U.N.? Or stupidly broke the law and lied about it? I don’t see Cheney escaping without damage.

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