- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2007

No testimony

Neither Vice President Dick Cheney nor his former aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. will testify at the latter’s perjury and obstruction trial in the CIA-leak case, Mr. Libby’s attorney said yesterday.

Defense lawyer Theodore Wells said he advised Mr. Cheney’s attorney over lunch that the vice president’s testimony would not be needed. Mr. Wells also said he planned to rest his case this week without calling Mr. Libby, the Associated Press reports.

In December, Mr. Wells had announced he would call Mr. Cheney as a defense witness. Historians said it would have been the first time a sitting vice president would have been a witness in a criminal case.

Mr. Libby is accused of lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. Mrs. Plame is married to former ambassador and prominent war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Knocking Fitzgerald

After observing courtroom proceedings last week in Washington, former Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, is publicly criticizing Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s prosecution of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., calling it a “travesty and injustice,” ABC News reports

While serving as chairman of the Senate Government Affairs Committee in the late 1990s, Mr. Thompson led the fight to allow the Office of Independent Counsel to expire, and in the years since, Mr. Thompson clearly remains wary of prosecutors with too much power.

“When you put too much power in the hands of unelected, unaccountable people who have every incentive to focus massive resources onto one particular person — who gets the plaudits in the media for doing so — it’s a bad thing. And many, many times an injustice can occur,” Mr. Thompson said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

Mr. Thompson, who plays a conservative district attorney on NBC’s “Law & Order,” said he still thinks it is appropriate for the U.S. attorney general to appoint a special counsel when a conflict of interest exists and a clear violation of the law has occurred. However, Mr. Thompson, who has contributed to Mr. Libby’s defense fund, doesn’t think Mr. Libby’s case meets that threshold.

Mr. Thompson says it was clear Valerie Plame, the CIA operative whose identity was leaked, was not covered under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, and that, he says, should have short-circuited the entire investigation.

“There was no indication that a law had been violated,” he said.

Giuliani’s chances

“The book on Rudy Giuliani is that he is too liberal on social issues to win the Republican presidential nomination,” Brendan Miniter writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, put it succinctly: ‘I don’t see anyone getting the Republican nomination who is not pro-life and a staunch defender of traditional marriage.’

“But Mr. Giuliani is running strong in Iowa and New Hampshire polls and leading most national surveys of Republicans. He’s charming crowds of conservatives everywhere he goes. So it’s worth wondering if Mr. Perkins is missing an undercurrent coursing through conservative politics,” Mr. Miniter said.

“Republicans have just experienced a bruising midterm election defeat. The president is suffering dismal approval ratings, and the party’s erstwhile front-runner for the presidential nomination, Sen. John McCain, made his national reputation as a ‘maverick.’ The Giuliani rise evident now may be more than name recognition and residual support from his stalwart leadership following the September 11 attacks.

“Mr. Giuliani’s support may also arise from his having successfully moved an entrenched political culture in New York City, something national Republicans have not been able to do in Washington.

“Mr. Perkins has publicly predicted that Mr. Giuliani’s support will evaporate once voters learn more about him. And Mr. Giuliani’s track record, both political and personal, may hurt him in the primaries. He’s been divorced twice, opposes banning abortion, supports gun control and for a time as mayor lived with two gay men and (as Time magazine noted recently) their frou-frou dog, Bonnie. None of this will endear him to the party’s values voters. But it also may not be what tips the scales in the primaries.”

Caught in the act

“In Monday stories on ‘World News’ and ‘Nightline,’ ABC’s Jake Tapper broached a subject few, if any, mainstream journalists have dared: How Sen. Hillary Clinton’s current claims that her 2002 vote on the Iraq resolution was not an endorsement of war do not match what she said in 2002,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“In the ‘World News’ version of his story, Tapper pointed out how ‘a month before her vote on the Iraq War, she said this’: Viewers then heard Clinton on the Sept. 15, 2002, ‘Meet the Press’: ‘I can support the president. I can support an action against Saddam Hussein because I think it’s in the long-term interests of our national security.’

“But, Tapper noted, ‘Now, she says this’: He ran a clip of her in Berlin, N.H., on Saturday: ‘I gave him authority to send inspectors back in to determine the truth, and I said this is not a vote to authorize pre-emptive war.’

Obama’s apology

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is apologizing for saying the lives of the more than 3,000 U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war were “wasted.”

During his first campaign trip this weekend, the Illinois senator told a crowd in Iowa: “We now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.”

He immediately apologized on Sunday, saying the remark was “a slip of the tongue.”

During an appearance Monday in Nashua, N.H., he apologized again, telling reporters he meant to criticize the civilian leadership of the war, not those serving in the military, the Associated Press reports.

Afraid of Obama

Two key black political leaders in South Carolina who backed John Edwards in 2004 said yesterday they are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

State Sens. Robert Ford and Darrell Jackson told the Associated Press they think Mrs. Clinton is the only Democrat who can win the presidency. Both said they had been courted by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama but believe his winning the primary would drag down the rest of the party.

“Then everybody else on the ballot is doomed,” Mr. Ford said. “Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he’s black, and he’s at the top of the ticket — we’d lose the House, the Senate and the governors and everything.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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