American politics is as intertwined with news media as it is here. I haven’t followed the Plame outing story much, but its climax today has funny elements.

The US Attorney investigating the issue has released an indictment of an aide. A close reading of the indictment text indicates a weird confusion between testimony itself, and about testimony about a conversation. Huh?

While the investigation was about how Plame’s CIA employment status was made known to reporters, it has turned into how Libby has testified to the grand jury about conversations with the reporters! There is apparently a dispute about what he told them (whether he told them that the Plame information came from other reporters, or whether he was the unqualified originator). The indictment claims that Libby told the reporters the information in the second form, where Libby testified that he used the first form. Presumably, the reporters’ notes would be used as evidence in this “he said / she said” dispute.

It’s a lot like Martha Stewart’s recent conviction for lying to federal investigators looking into her stock deals, not for the stock dealing itself.

The indictment turns bizzarre at some points. They charge that Libby told reporters that he didn’t personally know about Plame’s status, when in fact he had known. They are in fact charging him for possibly lying to reporters: count 2 (4.b), count 3, count 4 (3.b). That is absurd – bald-faced lying to reporters is not against the law. In fact it can be quite a good idea sometimes.