And now, a few words from David Addington

Libby's successor on the size of an office, the seating arrangements on Air Force Two -- and a meeting about the president's declassification power.

By Tim Grieve
Published January 29, 2007 9:50PM (EST)

With the lawyers having finished with Ari Fleischer, David Addington is now on the witness stand at the Scooter Libby trial. It's late in the day, and either Addington is the most talkative person in the world -- an odd character trait for Dick Cheney's chief of staff -- or he's just trying to run out the clock before getting to matters of substance tomorrow.

Addington spent what seemed like a lifetime describing his work experience. He described -- by approximate dimensions and also by comparison to a table in the courtroom -- the size of an office in the West Wing. He painted a word picture of the seating arrangements on Air Force Two: which seats are on the "port" side, which seats are on the "starboard" side and who sits in each. He offered excruciating detail about procedures the White House might use to gather documents requested by the Justice Department.

We've learned a lot listening to Addington, just not a lot that is relevant to the guilt or innocence of his predecessor as Cheney's chief of staff. That said, Addington did offer a detailed account of a meeting he said he had with Libby at some point between July 6 and July 12, 2003 -- a meeting in which Addington said Libby asked him if the president has the authority to declassify documents and whether there would be paperwork at the CIA if the agency had sent someone on a trip somewhere. Addington said that Libby didn't name names in the meeting but that he assumed that Joseph Wilson might be the focus of his questions.

At one point during the meeting, Addington said, Libby signaled with his hands that Addington should keep his voice down. When the meeting ended, Addington said, Libby walked directly into Cheney's office -- if he remembers correctly, with Stephen Hadley in tow.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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