The opening statement of Libby's attorney seemed to augur a presentation of the "fall guy" scenario. "They're trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb," Theodore Wells said, recalling Libby's words to Cheney. "I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected." Rove, after all, had disclosed the identity of Wilson's wife, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, to two reporters, conservative columnist Robert Novak, who first put her name into print, and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine. Rove told MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews that Plame was "fair game." And he offered as his motive for attacking Wilson to another reporter: "He's a Democrat."So why did Libby decide to fall on the sword? The administration did not want a pathological liar like Cheney testifying under oath. Yes, he would lie opening an entirely new can of worms. A Libby conviction was not without advantages for the White House. The appeals could last for years making it impossible for Libby to testify in front of congressional committees. So why did Libby take the fall. I see a couple of possibilities.
In a note entered as a trial exhibit, Cheney expressed his concern that his chief of staff was being thrown to the wolves while Rove was being protected. "Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder," the note read. Despite the dramatic opening, Libby's defense made no reference to the note during the trial. In yet another mysterious lapse, although Libby's lawyers repeatedly gave every indication to Judge Reggie Walton that both Libby and Cheney would testify, neither did. In a perjury trial, if the defendant does not look the jury in the eye and say he did not lie or that he made an honest error, it's difficult to win. But Libby never appeared as a witness on his own behalf; Cheney was not called; and the defense rested on the thin reed of Libby's weak memory and the supposed impeached credibility of journalists. The feeble defense amounted to a verdict foretold.
But why was Libby virtually passive? If Libby knew he was going to offer the barest defense, why didn't he do as Rove did, amending his grand jury testimony to reflect the truth? Why didn't Libby do as former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer did, turning state's evidence and being granted immunity in exchange for his testimony? What stopped Libby from risking indictment? What prevented him from making more than a minimal defense that invited conviction?
- He was promised a pardon and that he would be taken care of.
- Libby truly believes in the cause and the party so was willing to play the part of the loyal Samurai.