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Why There Was No Indictment On The Underlying Crime Of Outing Valerie Plame

Message Lawrence Velvel
Summary For Op Ed News  

            Lawrence Velvel explains in poetry that there was no indictment on the underlying crime of outing Valerie Plame, because such an indictment would have had to include Bush and Cheney.  So Fitzgerald merely indicted Libby, and only for lying to the grand jury.  Libby was the fall guy, while the people responsible for the underlying crime went scot free.


March 16, 2007

 Re:  Why There Was No Indictment OnThe Underlying Crime Of Outing Valerie Plame.  From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel  

To many, the vict’ry of Fitzgerald

Will almost surely one day herald

Fordian fruit of Nixonian tree.

A pardon:  I. Lewis will scoot scot free.

Happy will be his destiny

For lying in service of evil.


It is widely thought

His silence was bought

When Libby threatened that he

Would call the evil Cheney (a nasty and cowardly swine)

To testify on what went down

In meetings in airplanes and in town

To discredit Wilson for writing truth.

Libby has the goods on Cheney

And on (his fellow cowardly swine) Bush.

Their administration might collapse in a rush

If Cheney had had to testify,

Or if Scooter hadn’t protected their lie

By himself staying off the stand

And thereby avoiding cross exam.

And insuring the fall guy would to prison go.

But for a Fordian pardon as quid pro quo.


DCers say lying’s no big deal

If there’s not an underlying crime,

Or the lie is not material,

Or does not to a material issue relate.

These are views one should hate:

They treat truth as a dispensible commodity,

As subject to political (and legal) relativity.

With such views there should be no compromise.

Compromise would be unwise

Because it inevitably would lead to more and more lies.

Hiding behind claims of supposed noncriminality

And purported immateriality.


One has heard such claims about Scooter:

He was not charged with a substantive crime, it is claimed.

Therefore, it is said, he should not have been tried

Just because dirty tricks he would hide,

And, doing so, to a grand jury lied.

Fitzgerald, of course, would have none of this.

Stressing the need to learn what is true

About Plame’s criminal outing, he would pursue

Libby because truth is plangent;

Not to be elided by a D.C. tangent

That undermines democracy’s diapason.


Yet a question remains.

We were often assured the outing was a crime.

But there was no indictment along this line.

How did assured criminality

Escape scot free?

Where was truth’s avatar --

Was a charge simply a bridge too far?

What I mean is this:

Let us assume,

As I think all presume,

That outing a CIA agent is a crime (one Fitzgerald thought quite dangerous).

Then Libby and Cheney and Armitage --

An unholy triage --

All committed a crime, did they not?

Yet there was no indictment for the outing,

For an important law flouting.

How can this be?

Well there is a way, you see.

It’s one that sounds phony to me,

But here it is:

The President has a right to declassify.

He can do it on the spot -- and orally.

There need be no formality,

No papers, no findings, no reason of state, nothing.

He can do it with venality or mendacity.

He can do it in whole or partially,

So that only a sentence or a phrase is declassified.

While other parts which show he lied

Remain in utter secrecy.

Which is, it seems, what happened here.

Because truth was a thing they had to fear,

Bush orally ordered on the spot, partial declassification

To disclose classified information

That Plame worked for the CIA,

So that it would no longer be a crime

For Cheney, Libby (and others) to drop a dime

On Plame to reporters for the administration’s purposes

Of discrediting truth and shielding its own lies.


Could Fitzgerald, the avatar of truth,

Have agreed that the law allows this?

Have accepted such conduct horrendous?

Have accepted that the President, for selfish purposes,

Can legally declassify on the spot, orally, partially,

Selfishly, purely politically, without any formality?

The mind boggles at the thought

That this is what the law wrought.

I can’t believe for an instant

That this is what Congress for a moment meant.

Can it really be Fitzgerald does not agree,

And he instead thinks Congress

Permitted declassification done so evilly?

The mind reels at the thought

That he thinks Congress wrought

Such unmitigated evil.

Yet why else could there be no indictments here

For the underlying crime that we are told to fear:

The outing of those who are under cover,

The dangerous revelation causing

Usefulness, and maybe lives, to be over.

If there is some other reason

For no indictments on the underlying crime,

I’d sure as hell like to hear it --

To know the why.

As would the Congressional Committee before which

Fitzgerald refuses to testify.


Yet there is one group that will not pursue this question, this mess,

It’s the self anointed guardian of freedom, the press,

The press doesn’t care about

Partial, on the spot, oral, purely political

Declassification done informally.

All it cares about is getting a story.

And will fear that following

The law regarding declassification

Might make it a lot harder to get one.

As evidence, just think:

Dick and Scooter, lest they end up in the clink,

Would never have talked had Bush not acted

And from important classification subtracted

The name Plame.

The press prates of freedom and liberty

But doesn’t grasp that to continue free

It cannot allow the President to be

A king, who does whatever he wants,

Whenever he wants, to whomever he wants

Without being brought to book.

The press is mainly concerned, you see,

Strictly with its own popularity

(And often is guilty of stupidity),

And freedom, right and justice be damned.


As for truth’s self announced avatar

Indictment for underlying crime was a bridge too far,

Or so it seems.

For he would have had to indict Bush and Cheney.

Whereas any fool knows they are above the law --

Just ask John Yoo.*


* This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel.  If you wish to comment on the post, on the general topic of the post, or on the comments of others, you can, if you wish, post your comment on my website,  All comments, of course, represent the views of their writers, not the views of Lawrence R. Velvel or of the Massachusetts School of Law.  If you wish your comment to remain private, you can email me at   

VelvelOnNationalAffairs is now available as a podcast.  To subscribe please visit, and click on the link on the top left corner of the page.   The podcasts can also be found on iTunes or at 

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Lawrence R. Velvel is a cofounder and the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, and is the founder of the American College of History and Legal Studies.
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