The Libby trial began yesterday with the judge's decision to release the Libby grand jury testimony tapes to the AP. While not necessarily a victory for the prosecution (Fitzgerald did not weigh in on either side) it was definitely a defeat for the defense. Judge Walton also indicated he was likely to decide that certain articles which Team Libby wanted to keep away from the jury -- specifically two followup articles to the famous 1x2x6 article in the Washington Post -- were well within the prosecution's right to show to them. One has to wonder if Libby attorney Ted Wells hasn't tested whatever good will he might have needed with the judge with regard to these sorts of decisions. Walton has noted that Wells never followed up with any line of questioning the Karl Rove red herring he tossed out in opening statements, and he has also expressed irritation that Libby might not testify after all the song and dance he put everyone through during discovery. It will all just probably provide more fodder for a Libby appeal, which Wells has already mentioned is on his mind.
Speaking of 1x2x6 article, it is an subject that has stoked speculation amongst bloggers for years. Did Dick Cheney order two senior administration officials to contact six journalists and expose Valerie Plame's identity in an attempt to smear her husband? We discuss the subject in the Politics TV video above, but as Swopa notes, it definitely seemed to be a topic Fitzgerald was trying to steer away from at all costs. Although Team Libby tried to argue that the article was without any validity, Fitzgerald parsed his words carefully but said that it was well within the realm of what was known that two administration officials -- at the very least Libby and Ari Fleischer -- contacted more than six journalists. Fitzgerald mentioned that Cooper, Miller and Novak had been approached, and that Fleischer had contacted two journalists on the trip to Africa (he didn't say, but probably John Dickerson and David Gregory), and that the defense might call Walter Pincus, and then of course there was Bob Woodward. Fitgerald definitely did not want to get pinned down on the topic, almost as much as Team Libby wanted to pin him. It was an interesting little wrestling match.
FBI Agent Bond was then called to the stand, and Wells seemed positively bored as he drilled through a series of inconsistencies between her notes, her partner's notes and the write-up that was ultimately done for the FBI of Libby's original interviews. All I can say is that he wasn't as bored as I was, and I was positively rapt compared to the jury. Wells looked like he was reading it for the first time, it was a bunch of minutiae and Bond eventually got testy. I don't know what the defense strategy is here but bore the jury to tears probably isn't going to work as long as the prosecution gets to redirect and concisely bring everyone's attention back around to their points.
The day finished with the beginning of the tapes of Libby's appearance before the grand jury. Initially Libby sounded careful but at ease, like he didn't fear Fitzgerald or anything that might come of his testimony. He seems like a cool character but at that point in time they probably all thought that the levee of journalists the Administration had constructed would hold. It probably didn't occur to them that Fitzgerald would start to break it down by making people sign waivers. Well, here we are. If there is a defense strategy in action it seems to be as elusive to everyone else as it is to me. Nobody knows who they plan to call, if anyone. Will they just waive a white flag as Swopa is guessing, hoping to cast their lot for an accommodating appeals judge? Or does Wells have such a brilliant and subtle defense planned that none of us mere mortals can yet gauge its contours?
All I know is -- Russert on Wednesday. Now that ought to be worth the price of admission. BTW, anyone seen Richard Clarke lately?
Jane Hamsher blogs at firedoglake.com, where you can also catch live blogging of the Libby trial.