Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What makes attorneys giggle

U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald wrote a seven page letter to Scooter Libby's attorneys (PDF), covering all of their motions for discovery. The letter ends with this
We are aware of no evidence pertinent to the charges against defendant Libby which has been destroyed. In an abundance of caution, we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of [sic] Vice President and the Executive Offices of [sic] President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system.
Presumably this will be analyzed closely by actual lawyers, and in advance, you might guess that the best coverage will be at firedoglake and the legal news analysis columns at findlaw. (Here's a general article on the discovery process, and why Libby's attorneys are doing the expected things.)

However, since I have nothing to lose, and all the confidence one can get from a bottle of cough syrup, let's take a stab at interpretation.
  1. Fitzgerald didn't have to say this. This paragraph is completely out of keeping with the specific, numbered responses he makes to every other discovery motion, not least in that it volunteers information, after seven pages of "no, no, unh-unh, no, hell no, and no". Additionally, the letter has two weird typos, out of nowhere. This was a last-minute addition.
  2. Fitzgerald wasn't speaking to Libby's attorneys. He knows that his letter will be sent everywhere within hours. I have no idea if the US Attorney's letters on discovery would immediately be part of the public record, but obviously, Rove's attorneys will quickly find out the details. (In whichever way that obtained this letter, it wasn't from Fitzgerald's web page on the investigation.)
  3. Fitzgerald was addressing Rove, clearly, but also Cheney. But why? You're next? Stop trying to interfere with the investigation? Could it be addressed specifically at technical staff at the Whitehouse who either did or enabled the deletion?
  4. He uses the phrase "preserved through the normal archiving process", and not the shorter, clearer "preserved". He has at least one source of information, therefore, with copies of this email that made it outside the normal process. Someone printed an email out, saved it to a file, or forwarded it to someone else. At the very minimum, there's a log or a data structure that has information in it that shows this email existed and was deleted in some unusual fashion.
I would like to think that the celebrated U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was giggling when he included this paragraph in the letter. Libby and Rove had better start learning how to play the harmonica, because they're going to the big house.

Update: As expected, ReddHedd posted this analysis.


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