So many pixels have been spilled this week on the whole "Bob Woodward already knew about Plame / Libby wasn't the first leaker" bullshit and I've pretty much avoided it because my attitude was one of utter non-surprise, and confusion as to how this has any impact on Libby's case at all.
First, on Woodward. His role as Bush stenographer has been painfully obvious since his fawning Bush book a couple years back. That he would be privy to all manner of classified stuff in this WH is hardly shocking. He got to sit in classified meetings to "research" his Bush romance novel for chrissakes. All the hand-wringing going on about his journalism, ethics, source-protection or anything else is a joke. Woodward has been a Republican tool for years. The only "development" is the addition of his name to the widening conspiracy.
As far as the whole “this weakens the case against Libby” thing goes, I just don't see it. Libby’s charges are all after the fact perjury and obstruction stuff. Even arguing an impact on the actual leak is a stretch. It is the same crime to divulge classified information whether you were the first or thirtieth person to do it. It doesn't even matter if the reporter knows already, you cannot confirm it for them either, which is what I believe they are looking at Rove for. This has no impact except to enhance the fatigue factor on the whole affair, and that's why the right is glomming all over this.
If they throw enough crap out on Fox, Rush and the righty blogosphere, people will stop paying attention. Acting like this is part of an overall “leakiness” of the White house might water down the impact of a single Libby leak in the court of public opinion, but I don’t really see how this inhibits Fitzgerald on Libby’s existing case or any case he is still building.
As far as further entanglements, the only person I can see feeling secure in this is Cheney. Either someone else will fall on their sword for him (as Libby did), or as a last resort, technically (going way out on an limb of ignorance here) as VP he can de-classify anything he wants, meaning he can’t be charged with the leak if he is the source?
The worst that can happpen to Cheney is that he looks bad. He doesn't give a shit about that. A third of the country thinks he is Darth Vader anyway, a third don't care, and the rest are willing to excuse any behavior at all by these guys. Ho-hum.
As far as the "there's no actual crime there" crowd goes, the reason the crime cannot be proven is because of the perjury and obstruction. The whole point of covering up a crime is too erase the evidence. That leaves the prosecution with prosecuting the cover-up, which is more than good enough for me and the courts.
John Cole has more.