October 29, 2005

The Dog That Didn't Bark

Hatched by Dafydd

In the 1892 Sherlock Holmes story "Silver Blaze," the following exchange occurs as Colonel Ross queries Holmes, the conversation being related by the ever helpful Watson:

"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.

In fact, this turned out to be the key to the mystery: that the dog did not bark when the horse Silver Blaze was led out of the barn. In the Plame Name Blame Game, what is the curious incident, the dog that didn't bark? It is the fact that Patrick Fitzgerald did not charge Lewis "Scooter" Libby with conspiracy. I saw this mentioned a couple of times, but I was a little slow on the uptake (and also not a lawyer), so the significance of this point escaped me. But at last the penny dropped today.

Here is what I finally realized: I believe a prosecutor can charge conspiracy against one party to the criminal agreement even if he doesn't charge it against anyone else -- hence the phrase "unindicted co-conspirator." That is, you can charge Fred Flintstone with entering into a conspiracy with Barney Rubble to commit mopery with intent to gawk... even if you don't have enough evidence against Barney to charge him as well.

The point is this: even if Patrick Fitzgerald didn't have quite enough evidence to charge Karl Rove or Dick Cheney, but he believed they had all conspired with Libby to leak Plame's name -- or else to orchestrate a series of denials to obstruct his probe afterwards -- Fitzgerald could still have charged Libby himself with conspiracy. Frequently such charges, carrying very significant prison time, induce the charged person to sing, implicating his co-conspirators in an effort to reduce his own punishment... especially if he knows the prosecutor would rather have the scalp of the capo who ordered the hit than the button-man who carried it out.

The fact that Fitzgerald did not charge conspiracy is an even stronger exoneration than the fact that he didn't indict Rove or Cheney: the latter might simply mean he thinks they lied but can't prove it; but since he actually has a case against Libby for lying (as clearly he does), then that supplies the overt act -- and all he would need besides is mere agreement to turn it into a heavy conspiracy charge.

Evidently, Fitzgerald just doesn't have evidence that they all got together either to out Valerie Plame or else to lie about it afterward. In other words, despite ominous words about the investigation still being "open," I suspect that's it: it's over as far as any other big names are concerned. If anyone had been named but not indicted, we might think that Fitzgerald had some evidence, and if he squeezed Libby hard enough, more indictments might forthcome. But with even that possibility gone, "Fitzmas," as Captain Ed puts it, seems to have left the Left only a lump of coal in its collective sock.

My guess is that Libby won't go to trial. I think he'll push on for a few months, trying to raise some doubt; then he'll take the best bargain he can get. Even if he loses his law license, he can still make money writing a book and going on the lecture circuit.

It will end with a whimper.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 29, 2005, at the time of 3:42 PM

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Tracked on October 31, 2005 4:47 AM


The following hissed in response by: stackja1945

The left has been left right out of this even if left is right and right is wrong. Oh dear, the poor left, left out right again.

The above hissed in response by: stackja1945 [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 29, 2005 5:46 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Sounds like the lyrics to a Three Dog Night song!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 29, 2005 6:05 PM

The following hissed in response by: roundnoon

"It will end with a whimper."

It already has. This one's a yawner, it has all the excitement of the David Stockman scandal. Fitzgerald's professionalism made a strong impression. Rove, Bush and Cheney are clean and this one's over.

The above hissed in response by: roundnoon [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 29, 2005 7:37 PM

The following hissed in response by: RBMN

It was reported last week that George Tenet was the one who told Vice President Cheney that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. I wonder if it's possible, that even George Tenet wasn't aware on that day, that Valerie Plame's status was "NOC." Tenet could certainly look it up any time if he had a doubt, but NOC's aren't generally the type of employee that a DCI would run into everyday at the office. Even Tenet may have winged it that day, and got it wrong.

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 29, 2005 9:40 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith


I still can't make trackbacks to your site work; it seems to be isolated to your site, and you said earlier you don't moderate trackbacks so ???

I linked to your post from http://smalltownveteran.typepad.com/posts/2005/10/libby_libby_lib.html. A brief excerpt:

Jack Kelly: ....  Dafydd ab Hugh's The Dog That Didn't Bark post is enough to leave me quite confident that we won't see Rove, Cheney, or anyone else indicted over Plamegate at some later date. ... Don't miss The Commissar's related post here or Jeff Goldstein's here. ... Michael Barone: ...

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 12:58 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Bill Faith:

I know you've been able to leave trackbacks before, because I remember following them... what did you use as the trackback URL? And how, step by step, do you send trackbacks in TypePad?

Do you have "trackback autodiscovery" in TypePad?

Also, I notice that all of your comments come with every paragraph encased by <p> and </p>, but that's not usual -- do you prepare your comments on another program (Dreamweaver, for example), then paste them here?

I'll bet we can figure this out... we know it used to work; has anything at all changed on your system since the last trackback you successfully left, October 27th at 2:12 pm Pacific time?

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 2:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith


Thank you for your willingness to work with me on this, although I'm not as certain as I was last night that the problem only relates to your site.

I should warn you up front that I'm not sure I can always be counted on to be a reliable witness about things of this nature. I receive a disability pension due to something wrong with my body chemistry -- among other symptoms I have spells when I just can't concentrate and I don't consider my memory 100% reliable. That said, on to your questions:

The trackback address I used to try to ping this post was http://biglizards.net/mt32/mt-tb.cgi/165.

To send trackback pings from TypePad I paste the trackback URL into a box provided for that purpose in the TypePad editor and save the post. TypePad does not auto-discover trackback URLs nor does it provide reliable feedback on whether a ping was successful. (As far as I can tell, the way it's supposed to work is that if the ping was successful the URL should disappear from the " Send a TrackBack to these addresses" box and if TypePad realizes there was a problem the URL should stay in the box, but I'm not convinced it works all of the time.)

Since you mentioned in a past post that your comments accept html, I compose comments to leave on your site using MS FrontPage and copy the generated html code to your comment box.

I don't know of anything that's changed at my end since the last time I successfully left a trackback on your site.

On to things you didn't ask but which might be relevant:

I know TypePad is in the process of making some major changes to make their service faster and more reliable. I don't know whether that might be affecting the reliability of trackback sent from TypePad during the transition period. I do know I successfully sent pings to some other sites using TypePad last night and that in some other cases I tried but couldn't prove the pings were successful.  (I wish everyone who holds trackbacks for moderation would say so on their site, but some of them don't.)

I *think* I've successfully left trackbacks on your site in the past using Kalsey's Simpletracks and/or Wizbang's Standalone Trackback Pinger, but I honestly can't say I'm certain, or when the last time was that I did that. One of my regulars wrote recently to say he's no longer able to leave trackbacks on my site using those programs due to changes in MT-Blacklist. He tells me that MT-Blacklist now requires trackbacks to come from the same IP address as the post they point to. I've spent too much time deleting trackback spam from my own site to suggest that anyone disable that check. I added a note to my site saying "If you can't leave me a trackback leave a comment with an imbedded link" and I've been taking that approach myself on your site and several others.

Dafydd, if you have any fresh ideas I'll listen to them and appreciate your efforts but at this point I don't think whatever's going on is unique to your site. For now I'll just continue leaving comments when my trackbacks don't take and be optimistic that TypePad is going to fix the problem eventually. If not for my limited budget and the fact that I don't really expect to ever be a top-tier blogger anyway due to my health problems I'd upgrade to a full-blown version of Movable Type. Given my actual circumstances I guess I'll continue to make do with TypePad.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 1:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: stackja1945

Stackja1945: Sounds like the lyrics to a Three Dog Night song! Dafydd
"Want some whiskey in your water?
Sugar in your tea? What's all these crazy questions they're askin' me? This is the craziest party that could ever be Don't turn on the lights 'cause I don't wanna see"
Turn on the lights and see the craziest Dems party.

The above hissed in response by: stackja1945 [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 5:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Bill Faith:

Huh. Well, that's the correct trackback URL, all right. And the TB process on TypePad sounds remarkably similar to that on Movable Type, except MT also has TrackBack Autodiscovery... but for non-MT blogs, I still have to look up the trackback URL and paste it in myself.

Patterico was just able to leave a trackback, so I think it's just some communications glitch between TypePad and Movable Type that will soon be fixed... I hope!

Have you sent e-mail to the TypePad support desk, if they have one?

In the meanwhile, go ahead and just leave your "trackbacks" as comments, if that's not too much of a bother; I always like to read your take on issues.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 9:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith


I'm convinced at this point that the problem is with TypePad (possibly the timeout problem you suggested earlier), compounded by MT-Blacklist blocking pings from standalone trackback generators that I can use successfully on non-MT sites.

I'm not sure whether to think the problem is entirely within TypePad, or if it's in the interface between TypePad and Movable Type. I can't leave trackbacks on your site or on several other MT and TypePad sites but I've had pretty good luck using TypePad to leave trackbacks on some non-MT sites.

I do have the ability to submit "help tickets" to TypePad's support desk. I haven't yet on this but it may be time. I have email from them admitting their system is very overloaded right now and promising to fix the problem soon, so I may just wait and see what happens.

Dafydd, thank you again for your willingness to help out here. From here out I'm going figure this is Six Apart's problem an just leave comments instead of trackbacks as necessary till it's fixed.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2005 1:46 PM

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