Document Friday: Scooter Libby Chats with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz
Because the declassification of Presidential Daily Briefings is so rare, any time we get to glimpse one is a treat. Especially when we see that the workload of Scooter Libby (Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff) included meeting with eccentric Hollywood A-lister Tom Cruise and his (then) squeeze Penelope Cruz. If any snapshots exist, their kookiness could rival the Nixon-Elvis photos.
The well-publicized Libby-Plame-Cheney-Wilson-Fitzgerald-Novak-Rove-Cooper-Wilson-Russert-Woodward-Armitage-Bush melodrama goes something like this: In 2007, Libby was convicted on two counts of perjury, obstructing justice, and making false statements. Essentially, the jury decided that Libby lied about knowing who revealed covert CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity to the press. The administration likely revealed Plame’s identity in an attempt to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, after he wrote a New York Times op-ed piece in which he revealed that President Bush had presented untrue evidence in his 2003 State of the Union address. The President falsely asserted that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger.
Libby was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, fined $250,000, and given two years of supervised release, including 400 hours of community service. President Bush commuted Libby’s prison sentence, but did not grant him a full pardon. Following his conviction, Libby’s license to practice law was suspended in Pennsylvania and he was disbarred from practicing law in Washington, DC. After losing his appeal, he resigned from his “senior advisor” post from the Hudson Institute. Presumably, he continued to receive royalties from his 1996 book, The Apprentice, which USA Today described as “a thriller set in Japan that includes references to bestiality, pedophilia and rape.”
But this brief analysis of the 14 June 2003 PDB –which was subpoenaed from the CIA by Fitzgerald– doesn’t focus on the he said/she said/off the record/on the record testimonies over who leaked what to whom. Rather, if focuses on a hand-scrawled note by Libby’s regular CIA briefer Craig Schmall that read, “Tom Cruise + Penelope Cruz at his office.” Schmall testified that “He [Libby] was a little excited about it and I was a little excited about it.” “It,” presumably, was meeting Maverick.
According to Schmall’s testimony, Cruise and Cruz were visiting with Cheney’s office to discuss the German government’s treatment of Scientologists. (They met with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage the day before to discuss the same topic.) Because Cheney –unlike Obama– has refused to release (and even attempted to destroy) his visitor logs, it is unclear how frequently his office met with those concerned with religious persecution and other celebrities.
Although this Presidential Daily Briefing Memo is almost completely redacted, Libby’s lawyer hinted at its contents during the trial. Most of the items that Libby’s lawyer alleged that it contained (ie: that “Iraq’s porous borders present a security threat”) appear they could be easily released to the public without harm to US national security. Unfortunately, the document remains classified nearly in full.
Last month, Fair Game –a film recounting the Bush administration’s outing of Plame– premiered at the Cannes film festival. No surprise that it didn’t star Cruise or Cruz.