I am absolutely in favor of all those friends of Scooter, the bunch who are putting together a web site for his defense fund. Irv Lewis Libby, more famously known as Scooter, you may need to be reminded, is the indicted former chief of staff to the unindicted, often unavailable and sometimes undisclosed-locationed vice president of the United States. I say you may need to be reminded, because it’s been almost four months since he got tagged and four months is an eternity in the ‘what was that guys name, anyway?’ game.
Friends of Scooter haven’t forgotten and I applaud them. When a guy’s spent a major part of his life in the thin atmosphere of guys like Cheney, who just naturally suck all the oxygen out of any building they occupy, he’s not likely to have much of a nest-egg laid by. My guess is that any ordinary run-of-the-mill chief of staff, in Washington or elsewhere, would be financially buried defending himself against the feds. Practically speaking, it’s either cop a plea or just watch your life dissolve and go to jail.
Having said that, I’m knocked over by what purports to be a reasonable legal fee to defend five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. Scooter’s lawyer, Ted Wells reckons a solid defense will cost at least $5 million or $6 million. Uh, Mr. Wells, is that what you consider a ‘rock solid defense,’ or maybe just pretty darned solid? These are just "gosh I forgot" or "maybe it got lost among all the papers on my desk" defenses. This isn’t Enron. The paper-trail is pretty damned direct, one would think.
But let’s presume the year and a half or so of records that must be looked at are complicated. It’s true that Scooter did a bunch of stuff during that year and a half that wasn’t related to Valerie Plame. Like what, 95%? Okay, so now we have 5% of a year and a half to sift through and that’s twenty-seven days. Let’s round it up and say thirty.
Now, I’m willing to concede Ted Wells a million bucks just for being there. Ted’s on the 100 most influential lawyers in the country list and he also got Phillip Morris off a $280 billion hook, which is a pretty big hook. A million, Ted, you got it.
That leaves five million, an even million a count and I’m going to bet my booties the research on those counts is all going to be done by the guys way down below partner level. But Paul/Weiss, the firm Wells works for, has overhead and a few billion from the tobacco companies doesn’t go as far as it once did. So, softy that I am, I’m going to allow hourly rates for those lower-level grunts that are the equal of partner rates at most law firms; $250.
At two hundred-fifty bucks an hour, it takes four thousand hours to bill a million dollars.
Does it seem just a little bit strange that a five-count indictment, that really comes down to--do you believe Scooter Libby forgot some of this stuff of do you think he’s a mad-dog conspirator--will take twenty thousand hours of legal time to unwind?
Talk about Shock and Awe.