Scooter Libby was sentenced today to two and a half years in prison for perjury and obstruction of justice, but just as significant a development in the case—for the media, but not really for Libby—was the release of dozens of letters from high-profile figures inside and outside the administration in support of Libby's character. As Swampland's Ana Marie Cox points out, one of the most interesting released letters comes from Deborah Tannen. The letter is noteworthy not so much for who Tannen is (she's a professor of linguistics and gender issues at Georgetown) or even for what we can read in it as much as for what we can't read in it, namely, the partial line of text that is blacked out:
In sum, my experience as his XXXXXXXXXXXX has left me with an unalloyed sense of Scooter as a person of unusually large complements of generosity and kindness toward acquaintances and devotion to family . . . .
What could their relationship be, and why must it be hidden? Luckily, the letter was typed in a monospace font, which yields a significant clue: everything blacked out, including any internal spaces, is eighteen letters long.
My guesses so far:
I'd be happy to hear any other ideas, wildly speculative or otherwise.