Pardon me boys, but is that the Libby Commuter train on track 49? Sigh – No it’s just the President of the United States switching roles from being the Decider to being the Commuter. Let’s be clear the President had the Constitutional authority to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence, but there is no moral authority in that action.
There is so much hypocrisy associated with this commutation that I can scarcely find a place to begin. But I guess- as Maria von Trapp suggested- it’s best to start at the very beginning.
After Valerie Plame’s name was leaked and an investigation began, Mr. Bush stated unequivocally on September 30,th 2003 “[that] if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of”. I think we all expected ‘being taken care of” mean that offenders would be punished. I don’t think anyone expected that this person would be “taken care of” like a child is taken care of by his mother negotiating with a principal to give a student detention rather than suspension. “Please don’t punish my boy Scooter!”
Bill Kristol and his fellow wrong wing pundits who have a rather casual relationship with history and the facts have pointed out that Mr. Libby was not the leaker but instead it was Richard Armitage who spoke to Robert Novak and therefore any case against Mr. Libby was absurd and moot. I am sure that Mr. Kristol knows that Mr. Libby (I can’t call him Scooter- any person older than 13 should not have the name Scooter) was not convicted for being a leaker but for being someone who stonewalled the investigation into the leak by committing perjury and obstructing justice.
The last time that I checked committing perjury and obstructing justice particularly related to an investigation that is wrapped around the Administration’s lies about the causus belli in Iraq is not a petty matter.
Remember this whole thing started because Ambassador Joe Wilson dared to impugn the President’s statements about “uranium in Africa”. He needed to be punished and that punishment came out in the form of outing Mr. Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame as a CIA covert operative (a very grievous crime). Independent Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was brought in by the Bush Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute anyone associated with this who committed a crime.
Quite simply Mr. Libby committed perjury and obstructed justice so the investigation would be stalled. Mr. Libby’s actions made it impossible for Mr. Fitzgerald to ascertain how far up the administration’s food chain this whole debacle went. Mr. Wilson and others have been very vocal in their assumptions that Mr. Libby was falling on his sword to protect Vice President Cheney. We do not know that for sure, and now we will never know. Maybe Mr. Libby could have removed a cloud of suspicion that surrounds the Vice President by being open and honest if there was nothing to hide- a logical person would assume that Mr. Libby would have been forthright if there was nothing sinister afoot and thus assumptions are made that the Vice President is at the vortex of this whole mess- Darth Vader at the center of the Death Star.
But I digress from my first argument of hypocrisy. The “wrong wing” pundits continue to say that Mr. Libby’s transgressions were not worthy of a conviction let alone a jail sentence. These are the same people who were screaming for President William J. Clinton to be impeached (which he was) and convicted in the Senate (which he was not) for perjury.
I will be the first person to say that President Clinton was a fool and did himself and the Presidency damage by lying under oath. But let’s be honest lying about extramarital infidelity in an investigation that was nothing more than a fishing expedition about White Water and does not even approach to lying about events surrounding a campaign of half truths, exaggerations and probably out right lies to take this country into war.
There is absolutely no comparison and I marvel at the audacity – the chutzpah– that Kristol and others have in defending Mr. Libby and the President’s decision. They say that the investigation was about the leak and Mr. Libby wasn’t the leaker and his case had nothing to do with him being the leaker. Well – Kenneth Starr was investigating White Water and there was nothing there so they went after him for lying about having sex with Monica Lewinsky and they all wanted Clinton’s blood. Isn’t there something odd about this? Am I the only one who sees that there is a double standard? Sure Clinton lied- and he was punished- he cannot practice law and he was impeached- but this was about a private marital issue. Mr. Libby lied and it had to do with National Security.
Is the message conservatives want to send? If you lie about sex you should be drawn and quartered, but if you lie about issues related to an investigation on national security- eh – it’s not so bad.
The second matter of hypocrisy is related to Mr. Bush’s statement that the sentence was too severe. CNN Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was left shaking his head at this statement. For his entire Presidency Mr. Bush has stated that he believed that federal judges should adhere to federal sentencing guidelines and he has clearly stated that judges who go beyond those parameters are wrong. In this case Judge Reggie Walton adhered to the federal sentencing guidelines but the President thought that the sentence was to excessive and intervened. Talk about hypocrisy!
The Bush administration and their pundit pals never cease to amaze me. They believe that they are accountable to no one and they have treated the Constitution like a piece of used Kleenex. If you thought that this country is less safe because of Bush’s dangerous folly in Iraq, their dismantling of the Constitution could do more long term damage than I dare myself to imagine.