Rosen reiterated falsehoods, made new distortions about Libby's conviction in CIA leak case

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Repeating falsehoods he has made on previous broadcasts, Newsradio 850 KOA host Mike Rosen asserted on his June 6 show that "[t]here was no underlying crime committed" in the leak of former CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, which led to the conviction of former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Rosen also misrepresented the prosecution's evidence to contend that "whether or not he actually committed perjury is debatable."

On his June 6 Newsradio 850 KOA show, host Mike Rosen again insisted that "[t]here was no underlying crime committed" in the case involving former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice following the leak of former covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. Libby was found guilty March 6 and on June 5 was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine "for lying to investigators about his role in the leak of" Plame's identity. Additionally, Rosen distorted the prosecution's evidence in the case to support his claim that "whether or not he [Libby] actually committed perjury is debatable." Rosen echoed numerous other conservative commentators in calling for Libby to be pardoned.

Rosen on numerous broadcasts has distorted facts in the Libby case to assert that "no underlying crime [was] committed" and to suggest that Plame was not covered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), as Colorado Media Matters has pointed out.

From the June 6 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:

ROSEN: There's gonna be a lot of anger on the right if he [Bush] doesn't pardon Libby. Personally, I think Libby should be pardoned; I don't think he ever should have been prosecuted. There was no underlying crime committed -- certainly not sufficient for [Special Counsel Patrick] Fitzgerald to even go for an indictment on violating the Intelligence Identities Act and illegally revealing the identity of a CIA operative.

As Colorado Media Matters has noted repeatedly (here, here, here, and here), Fitzgerald explained in a press release and in a press conference when a grand jury indicted Libby on October 28, 2005, that Libby's perjury and obstruction had prevented Fitzgerald's investigation from determining whether the "fine judgments" necessary to charge a violation of federal law could be made. Fitzgerald had maintained all along that Plame, whose CIA identity was publicly revealed in a July 2003 column by Robert Novak, was a covert CIA employee at the time of the leak. Colorado Media Matters also has noted specifically that Plame's identity had been covered under the IIPA, which defines a covert agent:

(4) The term "covert agent" means --

(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency --

(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and

(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States

Later in the broadcast, while discussing Libby's perjury conviction with a caller, Rosen misrepresented the prosecution's evidence to suggest that "the essence of ... the case" was testimony about a conversation Libby had with Tim Russert, host of NBC's Meet the Press, and that Libby and Russert merely had different recollections of the conversation:

CALLER: You know, I would pardon Libby, but one issue I have is he did perjure himself to a grand jury, and that's pretty serious.

ROSEN: Well, he was convicted of committing perjury; whether or not he actually committed perjury is debatable. But he was convicted of perjury, yes.

[...]

ROSEN: There are degrees of perjury. In this case, the essence of, of the case against Libby was that his recollection of a conversation that had taken place three years earlier was different from somebody else's recollection of that conversation. There are more cut-and-dried cases for perjury than this one.

CALLER: Oh, I didn't know it was so loose. OK.

ROSEN: And Tim Russert -- who apparently the jury believed more than, than Libby -- Tim Russert, in his own testimony before the trial, was caught in an inconsistency.

CALLER: I see. OK.

ROSEN: So, you know, it, it underscores the fact that you can falsely or incorrectly recall a conversation without, without knowingly lying.

CALLER: Oh. I didn't know it was so loose. I thought maybe he was caught in a lie trying to protect the administration or something.

ROSEN: Well, that might, that might have been the case and it might have been his motive.

CALLER: Right, right.

ROSEN: But it was a conversation.

CALLER: Right. I understand.

ROSEN: And then they asked him his recollection of it during the investigation and his recollection differ -- differs from somebody else's.

In suggesting that differing recollections about a conversation between Russert and Libby were the flawed "essence of ... the case" -- and in noting that Russert's memory had been shown to be faulty -- Rosen echoed efforts that Libby's lawyer, Theodore V. Wells Jr., made when cross-examining Russert, who testified for the prosecution on February 7. The New York Times reported February 8:

Mr. Libby, who is charged with five felony counts, has sworn that it was Mr. Russert who informed him about Ms. Wilson sometime on July 10 or July 11, 2003. Although Mr. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has acknowledged he heard about Ms. Wilson from Mr. Cheney earlier, he said he had forgotten about that. He said, "It was like hearing it for the first time" when he said Mr. Russert told him weeks later.

[...]

Mr. Russert insisted that it "would be impossible" for him to have told Mr. Libby about Ms. Wilson in their conversation on July 10 or 11, 2003, "because I didn't know who that person was until I read the Bob Novak column." He said that, when he read it on July 14, he said to himself, "Wow, this is really big."

In challenging Mr. Russert's reliability, Mr. Wells homed in on a dispute he had with The Buffalo News in 2004 over his serving as a debate moderator. Using Mr. Russert's technique, Mr. Wells displayed on the television screen documents in connection with the incident in which Mr. Russert had acknowledged that he had forgotten making a telephone call to a Buffalo reporter.

However, contrary to Rosen's suggestion that Russert's testimony was crucial to the prosecution's case, the Times reported February 21 that in his summation the previous day, Fitzgerald indicated that Russert's testimony was unnecessary:

Mr. Fitzgerald countered that Mr. Russert's testimony was not needed to convict Mr. Libby. "If Tim Russert were run over by a bus and had gone to the great news desk in the sky, you can still find plenty of evidence that the defendant lied," he said.

Furthermore, in reporting on the summation arguments, the Times noted that the prosecution had provided testimony from other witnesses that Libby had discussed Plame's CIA identity during a four-week period preceding Libby's conversation with Russert on July 10 or 11, 2003:

[Prosecutor Peter] Zeidenberg began the day for the prosecution by telling the jury that the parade of witnesses the government had presented demolished the contention of Mr. Libby's lawyers that he merely had a bad memory and forgot a whole series of conversations he had about Ms. Wilson.

"He claims he forgot nine conversations with eight people over a four-week period," Mr. Zeidenberg said. He was referring to a former spokeswoman for Mr. Cheney, a senior State Department official and two C.I.A. officials, all of whom testified that they had informed Mr. Libby in early July 2003 of Ms. Wilson's role at the agency and three reporters who spoke to Mr. Libby in that period. Mr. Zeidenberg then noted that Mr. Libby had sworn under oath that those people must have been wrong because he learned of Ms. Wilson's identity days later on July 10 or 11 from Tim Russert of NBC News.

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