The NY Times has a fascinating transcript of Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald's press conference today where he outlines the charges against Libby in detail. They are neither trivialities nor technicalities. Fitzgerald said Libby's perjury and obstruction of justice were "very, very serious" crimes.
When asked why he did not indict Libby with the underlying charge of intentionally revealing the name of a CIA agent, Fitzgerald said:
FITZGERALD:The whole point here is that we're going to make fine distinctions and make sure that before we charge someone with a knowing, intentional crime, we want to focus on why they did it, what they knew and what they appreciated; we need to know the truth about what they said and what they knew.
QUESTION: Does that mean you don't feel that you know the truth about whether he intentionally did this and he knew and appreciated it? Or does that mean you are exercising your prosecutorial discretion and being conservative?
FITZGERALD: Well, I don't want to -- look, a person is charged with a crime, they are presumed innocent, and I haven't charged him with any other crime. And all I'm saying is the harm and the obstruction crime is it shields us from knowing the full truth.
I won't go beyond that.
Read between the lines. Libby prevented Fitzgerald from being able to prove what happened, and Fitzgerald knows it. The cover-up was successful, so he can only prosecute the cover up.
Fitzgerald also made a fascinating analogy to baseball.
I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something. If you saw a baseball game and you saw a pitcher wind up and throw a fastball and hit a batter right smack in the head, and it really, really hurt them, you'd want to know why the pitcher did that. And you'd wonder whether or not the person just reared back and decided, I've got bad blood with this batter... I'm just going to hit him in the head as hard as I can.
You also might wonder whether or not the pitcher just let go of the ball or his foot slipped, and he had no idea to throw the ball anywhere near the batter's head. And there's lots of shades of gray in between...
In this case, it's a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us. And as you sit back, you want to learn: Why was this information going out? Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters? Why did Mr. Libby say what he did? Why did he tell Judith Miller three times? Why did he tell the press secretary on Monday? Why did he tell Mr. Cooper? And was this something where he intended to cause whatever damage was caused? Or did they intend to do something else and where are the shades of gray?
And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice [is] the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view. As you sit here now, if you're asking me what his motives were, I can't tell you... the harm in an obstruction investigation is it prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make. I also want to take away from the notion that somehow we should take an obstruction charge less seriously than a leak charge.
Finally, when asked whether he knew the identity of the "senior official" (still not known) that told Novak about Plame, Fitzgerald said,
I'll explain this: I know that people want to know whatever it is that we know, and they're probably sitting at home with the TV thinking, I'm want to jump through the TV, grab him by his collar and tell him to tell us everything they figured out over the last two years. We just can't do that. It's not because we enjoy holding back information from you; that's the law.
When asked again about it, he said he would just repeat his earlier answer, "so I don't misstep and give you anything more than I should." So there is someone else, and Fitzgerald knows who it is.
The grand jury has expired but Fitzgerald's work will continue, although he said one would "very rarely" file more charges in such a situation.