Former Vice President Dick Cheney found himself in the same position of not only his aide Scooter Libby but countless criminal defendants. He simply could not remember a thing about his involvement in the leaks involving Valerie Plame. Indeed, he had little recollection of his own actions on 72 occasions — even after shown material with his own writing.
The recently released documents only reinforce the view of some of us that federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was far from the “junk yard dog” that he was portrayed to be in the media. I have been quite critical of the Fitzgerald investigation which seemed to me conspicuously restrained vis-a-vis high-ranking officials like Karl Rove and Cheney. I never understood why Fitzgerald treated Cheney as such a protected figure and gave people like Rove endless opportunities to get his sworn statements right before the grand jury. Fitzgerald said at the time that “there is a cloud over the vice president,” but he still declined to further investigate Cheney or seek an indictment — while going after Libby for what would appear a weaker case of claimed faulty memory.
Libby indicated that it was Cheney who told him Plame’s identity. Fitzgerald seemed to go out of his way to give Cheney every opportunity of escape, including allowing the sharing of investigative material.
Fitzgerald never focused on Cheney even after his lawyer Terrence O’Donnell refused to promise that Cheney would not speak to other witnesses.
While Libby remembered going to Cheney with his notes showing Cheney to be the source of the Plame information, Cheney told the investigatior that he could not “recall Scooter Libby telling him how he first heard of Valerie Wilson. It is possible Libby may have learned about Valerie Wilson’s employment from the vice president … but the vice president has no specific recollection of such a conversation.”
Cheney refused to even answer some questions outright.
On other questions, clarity seemed to break through the confusion. While claiming little recollection on major points, Cheney appears to have had an excellent memory on such issues as such politically sensitive questions as whether Plame’s employment was discussed in connection to her husband Joe Wilson’s criticism of the Administration.
The Justice Department has prosecuted witnesses for such telling gaps in memory. With Cheney, Fitzgerald seemed intent on leaving him as a conveniently absent-minded witness while moving against his top aide.
For the FBI summary, click here.
For the full story, click here.