Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, has hired a renowned memory-loss expert to assist him with his legal defense. Harvard psychology professor Daniel L. Schacter tells NBC News he has been retained by Libby as a consultant. An official familiar with the Libby defense team confirms the news.
Schacter, who has been at Harvard since 1991 and who has a 29-page resume, is the author of "The Seven Sins of Memory" and "Searching for Memory: The Brain, the Mind and the Past." His books offer explanations for the "vulnerability of memory." Schacter writes that if we are distracted as an event unfolds, "we may later have great difficulty remembering the details of what happened." Time, of course, often weakens our memory. And, he writes, it is easy to "unwittingly create mistaken -- though strongly held -- beliefs about the past."
Libby's lawyers hinted in court filings last week that memory loss will be "central themes" of Libby's defense. Libby's lawyers write: "...any misstatements he made during his FBI interviews or grand jury testimony were not intentional, but rather the result of confusion, mistake or faulty memory."
Libby's lawyers say that, during Libby's hectic days handling sensitive national-security matters, "it is understandable that he may have forgotten or misremembered relatively less significant events. Such relatively less important events include alleged snippets of conversations about Valerie Plame Wilson's employment status."
Libby has been charged with lying to investigators about his role in the disclosure of Valerie Wilson's role as a CIA operative. His trial is scheduled to begin in January 2007.