Hi I'm Marv Albert, and on my left is Doug Collins….
While tomorrow's release of the Scooter Libby grand jury tapes will no doubt be fodder for endless blog posts, they will be of no less interest to shrinks and dramatists. Over five and a half hours of the tapes played in court today, and although Libby's endless network of obfuscations at times became impenetrable, it was fascinating to watch his gradually dawning realization under Patrick Fitzgerald's relentless and dogged questioning that he was in fact screwed. Initially calm and self-assured, as Fitzgerald detailed one after another conversation in which Libby discussed Valerie Plame's identity with those who contradicted his claim of having heard the information first from Tim Russert, you could hear him start to slip. He grew foggy, his voice dropped, he became dour and tried to shift out from under Fitzgerald's painfully detailed questioning but there was no place to hide. Even hard core cynics in the media room were riveted.
The day started out with Judge Walton ruling that New York Times journalist David Sanger would be compelled to testify in Libby's defense. Somehow Sanger is supposed to say that he spoke with Libby during the time in question and since Libby didn't say anything to him about Valerie Plame this must be proof of…well, I don't quite know but Team Libby certainly seemed to think it was significant. Sanger's attorney was arguing against the appearance so an appeal is probably not unlikely, though one has to wonder how many New York Times reporters will go to jail, wallowing in melodrama in defense of Scooter Lilbby. I think we might already be at one too many.
My personal favorite moment came when Fitzgerald began questioning Libby about the declassification of the NIE, which Libby claimed the President could do simply by waving a magic wand. Fitzgerald comes off as something of a boy scout and you could tell it just did not sit well with him that something so sensitive as the NIE (which was also under review at the time for declassification by Tenet, Rice, Hadley and Andrew Card) was breezily declassified simply to leak to a journalist for PR purposes. His misgivings were seemingly compounded by the fact that nobody bothered to tell anyone about the declassification, and when he asked Libby if this was common practice he sounded like he was gazing on some grubby little urchin making mud pies in the sandbox with Mom's fine china. Libby was squirming — even he knew this was making him sound like a complete bonehead. As the NYT notes today, "It may be that kind of cross-examination from Mr. Fitzgerald that the defense hopes to avoid if it keeps Mr. Libby off the stand." Ya think?
There are three more hours of tapes to get through tomorrow, and then Tim Russert testifies. Fitzgerald could not have set the table for his appearance any better. Throughout the taped testimony, Libby repeats over and over again that he could not have heard about Plame from so-and-so, because he remembers being surprised when Russert told him. Well, Russert is going to show up and say he never told Libby about Plame, and if the jury were tempted to believe Libby over the endless parade of people who all would have had to mis-remember in exactly the same way in order for his story to hold up, the Russert testimony may strike the final blow. And while Russert no doubt dreads having to testify, he will probably use the opportunity to try and counter Cathie Martin's assertion last week that he was in the bag for Dick Cheney, ever the pliant administration propagandist.