Dana Milbank isn't sure whether Scooter Libby has been hurt of helped by this testimony at his trial this week, but I have no doubt that he's toast.
Cathie Martin, the former Cheney communications officer, has been on the stand, and what she's had to say has pretty much buried both Scooter and his master Cheney (link: Ex-Aide Says Cheney Led Rebuttal Effort):
Vice President Cheney personally orchestrated his office's 2003 efforts to rebut allegations that the administration used flawed intelligence to justify the war in Iraq and discredit a critic who Cheney believed was making him look foolish, according to testimony and evidence yesterday in the criminal trial of his former chief of staff.
Cheney dictated talking points for a White House briefing in the midst of the controversy that summer, his former press aide, Cathie Martin, testified, stressing that the CIA never told Cheney that a CIA-sponsored mission had found no real evidence that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear materials in Africa.
Aboard Air Force Two, on a trip back from the launch of a warship in Norfolk, Cheney instructed his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, about responding to a Time magazine reporter who questioned how the faulty intelligence on Iraq had become one of the Bush administration's central arguments for going to war.
In the dramatic replay of events that summer that unfolded yesterday in Libby's federal court trial, Cheney was portrayed as a general on a political battlefield -- enmeshed in tactics, but also deputizing his chief of staff to handle the dirty job of persuading journalists that the war critic was all wrong.
This is completely at odds with the defense theory that Libby was just too busy to remember all the nasty little details. They'll try to get out of it by trying to discredit the prosecution's witnesses, but it's not going to work.
Any attempt to smear the witnesses will just reinforce the jurors' impression that smearing a critic is SOP for Cheney and Libby. So they're damned if they do, and damned if they don't.
Milbanks column has lots of juicy details on the inner workings of the Cheney spinning machine, including the juicy morsel that Cheney saw Timmeh "Punkinhaid" Russert as a safe stooge.
Memo to Tim Russert: Dick Cheney thinks he controls you.
This delicious morsel about the "Meet the Press" host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message."
Ouch. Punkinhaid has been pwned.
For blow by blow liveblogging of the trial, visit Firedoglake, which has been the go-to site for all things Plamegate since dust.