An Eyewitness 'Selective Memory' Postmortem...
By Margie Burns on 3/7/2007, 8:35am PT  

*** Special to The BRAD BLOG
*** by Libby/CIA Leak Trial Correspondent Margie Burns

“Postmortem” isn’t really the right term here, since Libby’s defense team promptly announced that it will file motions for a new trial and, if those are denied, will appeal the verdict. Also, nobody died. At least in the trial itself.

But I do want to wind up with one final post on the Libby trial before going on to other matters including Sibel Edmonds. Instead of going to my notes and the documentation, this time I’ll stick with that much-abused and exploited faculty of memory invoked in the trial. (BTW, memory is always selective. That’s why we have the word “memory,” to distinguish that which we can remember from that which we cannot.)...

  • If there is one clean common denominator running throughout the trial, it is that the prosecution was clear and the defense, unclear. That distinction opened up wider at some times than at others. Unwilling government witness David Addington – the guy who on the witness stand seemed to endorse the idea that the President can ignore his own Executive Orders, but everyone else has to obey them...

    – a loomingly tall man who may not have been comfortable with his height, growing up, and seems to want an authority figure to loom comfortably over him – take me under thy wing, O official seal . . . was particularly unclear. Tactics not unheard-of: mumbling in the general direction of the mic, hairsplitting at every feasible juncture, narrating out of chronological order, speaking in fragments but paradoxically longwinded, etc. The prosecution, in contrast – all the members of the prosecution team, including Fitzgerald, Zeidenberg, and Debra Bonamici – were methodical, organized, and crisp. This is a good sign that you actually believe in the matter you are presenting: you want your audience to be able to penetrate it.

  • Another, regrettable common denominator: the defense team assault on taxpayer dollars and other public resources. Owing to a series of defense maneuvers including that odd idea that Libby and Cheney would take the witness stand, there have been over 100 filings in USA v. Libby since the first filing in 2005. Undoubtedly the defense team could have done even more motion-churning – my impression is that the court reined them in somewhat – but overall, virtually every series of filings, hearings and court order was initiated by the defense. The sad part here is not that a defendant got the best defense his allies could purchase for him, but that the rightwing noise machine will of a certainty attack this waste of taxpayer’s money without mentioning the chief role their guy played in it. The MSM will then go along.
  • Another common denominator: in spite of the fearsome power of the U.S. government, which like any governmental authority must be kept under check, it was the defense, not the prosecution, that indulged in the little everyday brutalities of life at court. Sample anecdote: walking down the hall to the courtroom one day, I overheard one of the younger women in the defense team (a Maureen Dowd look-alike, if Maureen Dowd dyed her hair brunette and got hair extensions) muttering a comment about the clothes worn by one of the female prosecution lawyers. The ensemble being commented about was perfectly appropriate, BTW – this was just a little gratuitous needling; never can tell when it might work. She repeated it, too, when the guy she was ostensibly murmuring to didn’t hear her – presumably for the other attorney to hear. More importantly, the defense team’s numerous filings also made for all-nighters pulled by the prosecution. In fairness, the defense team was usually polite and pleasant --- and overall showed considerably more class than its neocon allies and administration contingent, but that’s not much of a yardstick. Meanwhile, if by motion-churning you can deny your opponent attorneys the chance to sleep, or at least to exercise, and maybe even drive someone into a cardiac . . .

And on top of everything else, of course, politically this is the contingent doing everything in its power to:

  • deny legal aid to poor defendants;
  • keep any consistent legal recourse (“bureaucracy”) from women needing child support;
  • chip away at defendants’ rights when a defendant not subsidized by Fred Thompson is handcuffed;
  • attack judges who uphold checks and balances (“activist judges”); and
  • surreptitiously support, fund and enlist the aid of fringe groups who call for attacking federal judges even with force.

And now we'll wait to see how the "selective memory" of history records this small chapter...