Truth and Credibility

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The 12 jurors in I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's trial will soon be sifting through the evidence, trying to determine whether the prosecution proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Libby lied to investigators about conversations with reporters in the Valerie Plame affair.

As a former president famously said: "Perjury is a hard rap to prove." And the jurors' job may well be difficult.

If only they could take advantage of the Pentagon's new "Polygraph and Credibility Assessment Program." That, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England writes in a Jan. 25 directive, is a whole new way to see if someone is lying, by combining lie detectors with "credibility assessment" -- CA for short.

CA is a "multi-disciplinary field of existing as well as potential techniques and procedures to assess truthfulness" -- or at least truthiness -- "that relies on physiological reactions and behavioral measures to test the agreement between an individual's memories and statements," England said in the directive, unearthed by Secrecy News. Critics have said polygraphs are unreliable and suggested other factors be used for employee screening.

The new program will be overseen by the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, who will be, once he's confirmed, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., who is to succeed Stephen Cambone.

Bushism on the Agenda

Speaking of Libby, a colleague notes that his schedule for June 10, 2003, which was introduced at his trial, notes: "6:00pm -- Strategery Meeting." This would be a jovial nod to comedian Will Ferrell of "Saturday Night Live" fame, and his made-up Bushism as he impersonated President Bush wrestling with the English language.

The scheduled meeting apparently was of White House counselor Karl Rove's Office of Strategic Initiatives.

Cheney Taking Questions

Meanwhile, reporters covering the Libby trial doubtless were crushed by news yesterday that neither he nor his former boss, Vice President Cheney, would be taking the stand. But that doesn't mean Cheney is trying to avoid a sharp grilling.

In fact, Cheney is this very morning appearing for what is likely to be a tough session at a National Association of Manufacturers "Q&A, issue breakfast," our invite says, with about "300 manufacturers from around the nation."

Wanna bet there won't be any questions about Valerie Plame?

Foley Makes Himself Scarce

Let's have a hearty, albeit temporary, Loop Welcome Back for former congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who is in town this week apparently to move out of his home on the famed GOP enclave on D Street SE on Capitol Hill.

Foley was at his old house yesterday, a Loop Fan reports, overseeing the movers clearing it out. He was spotted about 6:30 a.m., fussing with a garbage bag in the front yard and ducking back into the house when he saw a neighbor walking her dog.

Second KBR Driver Killed

A couple of weeks ago, we reported the death in Baghdad of a garbage-truck driver working for KBR who was shot Jan. 13 by Australian and U.S. military guards at a checkpoint near a hospital in the Green Zone. Now another KBR truck driver has been killed -- and another person in the truck was wounded -- Feb. 5 at Camp Anaconda, an air base about 50 miles north of Baghdad, according to the Associated Press.

A military spokesman said the shooting came in "an escalation-of-force incident," which often means that a driver approaching a checkpoint did not respond to an order to move slowly and stop. The driver's name was not released.

But the wire service cited a Web site posting from a funeral home in Chesaning, Mich., that said KBR driver Donald Tolfree, of nearby Owosso, had been killed Monday in Balad, Iraq, which is near Camp Anaconda. A KBR spokeswoman said the shooting is under investigation.

Back Home at State

Condoleezza Rice, no longer home alone. The Senate on Monday confirmed former national intelligence director John Negroponte as deputy secretary of state, a post vacant since July. Negroponte, former ambassador to the United Nations, and to Iraq, Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines, said yesterday at a welcoming ceremony at State that he was "delighted that one of my first acts is going to be this afternoon to declare this a snow day."

Negroponte's portfolio as deputy was expected to include the pesky North Korea nuke problem. But Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill appears to have hammered out an agreement on that. Maybe it was because the North Koreans heard Negroponte was coming?

Khalilzad on the Somewhat Fast Track

Also on the personnel front . . . The White House has sent up to the Senate the nomination of Zalmay Khalilzad, now our man in Baghdad, to be ambassador to the United Nations. The move Monday came nearly two months after his selection was announced. We're told the Senate, barring some unforeseen fracas, may confirm him in early March.

Foreign policy veteran Tom Graham, who was, until Friday, National Security Council senior director for Russia, is heading to the private sector to work with Kissinger McLarty Associates. Graham, who did two tours in Moscow as a Foreign Service officer in the embassy, is credited with coining the name "oligarchs" for the avaricious tycoons that snapped up state assets during the early years following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ford M. Fraker, an investment banker and former head of banking at Saudi International Bank, is President Bush's pick to be ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Fraker founded and now chairs the London-based Trinity Group and is a consultant to Intercontinental Real Estate in Boston.

Lt. Gen. Dell L. Dailey, now director of the center for special operations at MacDill Air Force Base, has been tapped to be the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism.

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