As Matt Cooper takes the stand in the Libby trial, Jason Leopold and Marc Ash hunt for the real villians:
Cheney's notes, which were introduced into evidence Tuesday during Libby's perjury and obstruction-of-justice trial, call into question the truthfulness of President Bush's vehement denials about his prior knowledge of the attacks against Wilson. The revelation that Bush may have known all along that there was an effort by members of his office to discredit the former ambassador begs the question: Was the president also aware that senior members of his administration compromised Valerie Plame's undercover role with the CIA?
Further, the highly explicit nature of Cheney's comments not only hints at a rift between Cheney and Bush over what Cheney felt was the scapegoating of Libby, but also raises serious questions about potentially criminal actions by Bush. If Bush did indeed play an active role in encouraging Libby to take the fall to protect Karl Rove, as Libby's lawyers articulated in their opening statements, then that could be viewed as criminal involvement by Bush.
Last week, Libby's attorney Theodore Wells made a stunning pronouncement during opening statements of Libby's trial. He claimed that the White House had made Libby a scapegoat for the leak to protect Karl Rove - Bush's political adviser and "right-hand man."
"Mr. Libby, you will learn, went to the vice president of the United States and met with the vice president in private. Mr. Libby said to the vice president, 'I think the White House ... is trying to set me up. People in the White House want me to be a scapegoat,'" said Wells.
Cheney's notes seem to help bolster Wells's defense strategy...
Cheney's notes would have read "not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy this Pres. asked to stick his head in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others." The words "this Pres." were crossed out and replaced with "that was," but are still clearly legible in the document.