Fair Trial for Libby? Hmm

Finally. Finally I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby will have the opportunity to clear his name in a court of law. We’ve heard how Libby was the mastermind of some secret White House plot to retaliate against former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. We’ve also heard that Libby was the one who not only revealed Plame’s covert status to the press, but orchestrated some sort of witch hunt against her.

Never mind that Libby was never charged with improperly disclosing the name of Ms. Plame, let alone the fact that she did not meet the definition of a being a covert operative by statute in the first place. The press reports are miraculously silent that the administration official who most likely revealed Plame’s identity to reporter Robert Novak was former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

The prosecution and defense attorneys began jury selection earlier today. It will be interesting to see if they can find an impartial jury pool that has not been tainted by sensational, if not slanted media coverage toward Mr. Libby. Given the slant we’ve seen over the past two days, the prospects are not promising.

Consider the following account from the front page of the Washington Post in yesterday’s paper in an article written by reporter Carol Leonnig: “I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby’s case will put on display the secret strategizing of an Administration that cherry-picked information to justify war in Iraq…” Was this an objective statement written by an even-handed reporter or an editorial statement expressing the views of one individual (perhaps the Post’s) under her byline?

Finally, in open court and before a jury of his peers, Mr. Libby will be able to mount his defense, explain his side of the story and place the burden on the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Focusing on the evidence rather than the accounts of the Wilsons and the media accounts thus far, I suspect Libby’s jurors will find the prosecution's burden too heavy to meet — clearing the name once and for all of a stalwart public servant.