For coverage of the first day of the Libby trial and a deconstruction of Scooter Libby’s I-forgot defense, click here.
The second day of the trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was again devoted to selecting a jury. The task at hand remains finding sixteen Washington residents (twelve jurors and four alternates) who hold no harsh opinions about the credibility of the Bush administration–particularly that of Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been named by the defense as a possible witness for his former chief of staff. The quickest way off this jury has been to admit one possesses strong doubts about Bush crowd’s honesty in selling the case for war in Iraq. Juror No. 1298 said that she liked “to think” she could be “mature enough” to allow her respect for the presumption of innocence to trump her concerns about the Bush administration. But when federal district court Judge Reggie Walton asked if a witness from the Bush administration would have a “strike against them,” she replied, “Probably.” He responded, “We appreciate you being here.” In other words, you can go now. Juror No. 1980 bluntly said, “I cannot believe any statement from the Bush administration.” She was told her services would no longer be needed.
Of the first 24 potential jurors questioned by the judge, the prosecutors and the defense attorneys, eight were dismissed. (Some had reasons for being let go besides being administration critics.) A few who mildly expressed questions about the Bush administration–but who claimed they could still fairly evaluate the testimony of Cheney or any other Bush administration witness–were allowed to proceed to the second round. Yet Libby’s attorneys will later be able to remove them from the juror with preemptory challenges.
It could well be that the jury ends up with no members who suspect that the Bush White House deliberately misrepresented the case for war. Can someone who holds such a view not fairly assess the testimony and evidence in the case of a senior Bush administration official charged with lying to the FBI and a grand jury? What if a potential juror enters the courtroom with the firm belief that Cheney and other Bush aides are believable? Would that not be a bias that would create a disadvantage for the prosecution?
One potential juror who handles information technology business development at Lockheed Martin noted that she respects the commander in chief and Bush’s “reasons for going to Iraq.” She explained that citizens outside the government are not privy to enough information to second-guess such presidential decision-making. Is that not a prejudice (perhaps an unhealthy one) in favor of Bush administration officials? She also said that she is currently chasing a billion dollars in federal contracts for Lockheed Martin. Might she have an interest in pleasing administration officials? She was not kicked out of the potential juror pool; special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald ought to take a closer look at her in the next round.