February 5, 2007
Agent BondBy Clarice Feldman
The Libby trial finished for last week on Thursday with the start of the cross examination of FBI agent Deborah Bond, the interrogator who first questioned Libby. The cross examination revealed that Bond was hostile, that she had neglected to fully incorporate into her notes of the interview important portions of his testimony, most especially some matters that Libby's counsel had specifically asked be included. These were:
o Libby's statement at the initial interview that he had been unable to review his own notes;
o that his memory of the events was imperfect;
o that he was offering up just his present sketchy recollection; and
o that he could be more precise after he'd had an opportunity to review his notes.
(Neverthess, even in that initial interview when he was relying solely on his recollection he said he believed the Vice President had told him on about June 12, 2003 that Wilson's wife worked in counter proliferation.)
In his second interview, after he'd had an opportunity to review his notes, he volunteered to the FBI again that he'd first heard about Joseph Wilson's wife on June 12, 2003, when the Vice President told him. (I do not have transcripts of the trial testimony but there are summaries of the testimony provided by Firedoglake
Just One Minute trial mavens note that in the counts of the indictment relevant to the FBI interviews, once again the prosecution has far overstated the evidence in the indictment. We are also learning that the FBI still relies on the antique and inaccurate method of recording these interviews: the hand written notes of the interrogator, instead of videotapes. This process is surely inadequate and subject to bias.
This lack of an actual video or even audio recording of the interview is certainly going to appear more significant as the cross examination proceeds. This method of interview recording by interrogator's hand is also under fire in the Hamdania court martial, where the defense had put into evidence interview notes taken by members of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service at direct odds with affidavits sworn by those who provided those interviews.
At one time, before the more aggressive prosecution of those accused of making false statements to investigators, this technique with all its flaws may have escaped the scrutiny it deserved. The Libby case is a rare case, seemingly outside the Department of Justice practice: a case where he prosecution is seeking to convict on "lies" not made about any criminal conduct.
Azaghal, one of my favorite commentors and one most knowledgeable about law enforcement procedures and practices observes:
Indeed, that is my advice to all of you under the present circumstances, should you ever be questioned in an investigation: Lawyer up, unless the FBI gets honest and uses videotapes or prosecutors stop such nonsense.
And the next time there's a president who agrees to the appointment of such a "special special prosecutor" and demands the cooperation of all officials and staff with it, everyone working for him should resign and take the Fifth.
Working in the White House is hard, thankless, underpaid work. It is too much to ask that one should also agree to be a piñata for an unsupervised, unreasonable, utterly abusive proceeding like this.
This is precisely why Star Chambers were abolished.
Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker