“The Libby Affair” Washington Times

"President Bush’s commutation of the 30-month prison sentence for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, is neither wise nor just. It is clearly within the president’s executive powers, but that is beside the point.

We also agree that the 30-month sentence ordered by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton — a Reagan and Bush appointee — is harsh. It exceeds the 15-21 month guidelines for first-time offenders. A first-time offender who is no danger to the community with an admirable record of public service deserves the lower range, and for that reason the unusually long sentence was unjust.

But none of this exonerates the commutation. Perjury is a serious crime. This newspaper argued on behalf of its seriousness in the 1990s, during the Clinton perjury controversy, and today is no different. We’d have hoped that more conservatives would agree. The integrity of the judicial process depends on fact-finding and truth-telling. A jury found Libby guilty of not only perjury but also obstruction justice and lying to a grand jury. It handed down a very supportable verdict. This is true regardless of the trumped-up investigation and political witch hunt. It is true regardless of the unjustifiably harsh sentence.

Had Mr. Bush reduced Libby’s sentence to 15 months, we might have been able to support the decision. Alas, he did not.



The Washington Times has taken the high road here.  This should be applauded.  This newspaper has been remarkable in its persistent support for policies that are hard to support.  Evidently, there is a "sticking point" for everyone.

The president has now made it clear that he will probably pardon Libby before leaving office.  That means (to me at least) that the commutation is merely a device to keep Libby from "singing" to the prosecutor and judge rather than go to prison.  The felony conviction and fine would, of course, also disappear with the grant of a pardon.

This whole business is clearly a cynical manipulation of the criminal justice system for factional advantage.  We will now see if the American people care about this.  pl

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20 Responses to “The Libby Affair” Washington Times

  1. Rider says:

    “That means (to me at least) that the commutation is merely a device to keep Libby from “singing” to the prosecutor and judge rather than go to prison.”
    Makes a lot of sense. Better to commute Libby now rather than have to pardon Libby, Cheney, and Rove later. As Yeats put it, “The ceremony of innocence is drowned.”

  2. steve says:

    Unfortunately, I think much of the public has been “shell shocked” by this administration for a good while, so the Libby commutation appears only as more of the same. Many people have just lost the ability to be shocked.
    While I have no doubt that much of the public would like to see an investigation, perhaps by way of an impeachment inquiry, the democratic opposition appears to have taken that option off the table.
    Bush’s standard of governance is not one of recognizing the will of the people, but one of seeing what he can get away with, shamelessly. It appears to be successful.
    On a happier note–I wish everyone a safe and happy Independence Day. I’ve got a couple slabs of ribs smoking, will have a couple cold ones, and go see Bubba and Hillary march in the local parade later on.
    (Hey, it’s Iowa!)

  3. lina says:

    “This is true regardless of the trumped-up investigation and political witch hunt.”
    There would have been no need for this investigation had all the players told the truth from day one. AG John Ashcroft recused himself from the case because he perceived various high ranking officials were lying to the FBI. Fitzgerald was brought in to sort it all out. Witch hunt? More like a nest of vipers that needed exterminating.

  4. jang says:

    I believe this Fourth of July, 2007 as the American people celebrate the anniversary of freedom from tyranny and fairness for all, that the basic unfairness of the gift of cummutation for one well-connected WH insider will resonate in the hearts and minds of many.
    Happy Fourth of July from north of the St. Lawrence. May the eagle soar.

  5. Montag says:

    Reminds me of what the Numidian King Jugurtha said in 111 B.C. He was called to Rome to account for his crimes, but bribed the officials to quash the proceedings. “The city’s life is for sale, and it would die if it could only find a purchaser.” Quite a prescient warning as it turned out.

  6. T says:

    From Martin Luther King’s sermon on July 4, 1965:
    “The American dream reminds us, and we should think about it anew on this Independence Day, that every man is an heir of the legacy of dignity and worth.
    Now ever since the founding fathers of our nation dreamed this dream in all of its magnificence—to use a big word that the psychiatrists use—America has been something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against herself. On the one hand we have proudly professed the great principles of democracy, but on the other hand we have sadly practiced the very opposite of those principles.

    So yes, the dream has been shattered, (Amen) and I have had my nightmarish experiences, but I tell you this morning once more that I haven’t lost the faith. (No, sir) I still have a dream (A dream, Yes, sir) that one day all of God’s children will have food and clothing and material well-being for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, and freedom for their spirits. (Yes)
    I still have a dream this morning: (Yes) one day all of God’s black children will be respected like his white children.
    I still have a dream this morning (Yes) that one day the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.
    I still have a dream this morning that one day all men everywhere will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth.
    I still have a dream this morning (Yes, sir) that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill will be made low; the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
    I still have a dream this morning (Amen) that truth will reign supreme and all of God’s children will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. And when this day comes the morning stars will sing together (Yes) and the sons of God will shout for joy.”
    If Dr King could overcome, we can too over the corruption so epitomized in the Libby affair.
    Col Lang, a while ago you asked for your readers to “name names” of those supporting the bankrupt and self-serving thinking and actions of the Bush administration regarding Iraq. Although not directly related to Iraq, this collection (see link) of the “Scooter Libby Love Letters” provides the names of other fellow citizens who have similarly mistook their own self interest for democratic ideas of liberty and justice. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/graphics/pdf/libbyletterscomplete.pdf

  7. J says:

    by bush commuting libby’s sentence he will be able to now use his passport and travel abroad and meet with his mossad control officers/handlers.
    under probation libby would have been required to check in with his [u.s.] probation officer, and report any meetings with foreign nationals, provide a dna sample an perform 400 hrs of community service. now that is all gone thanks to bush’s order.

  8. Leila A. says:

    Do the American people care? I was at dinner last night with a couple in their sixties and a group of people my age, 30s and 40s. Liberal Californians. The older couple are “Hollywood Democrats” – they aren’t in the movie business but they live in L.A. and are self-made millionaires in banking. They were in favor of the Iraq war because their Democratic leaders told them it was necessary. Now they’re against it, natch.
    Everyone was of course outraged. Here we all were, though: homeowners, some of us rich, most of us not, all of us with college educations and good jobs. We represent the privilege of the successful middle class in this country. Not one of us said what we were going to “do” about this commutation. What can we do? I will call my senators on Thursday: Boxer and Feinstein. My congresswoman is Barbara Lee, who courageously stood against this President from the beginning. They are not going to listen to us.
    Wesley Clark Jr. says he’s going to protest on a street corner in L.A. every week … until what happens?
    Colonel? We are indeed outraged. We are concerned about the fate of our republic. We vote. We call our congresspeople.
    What else can we do?

  9. E Z Rider says:

    Nothing Bushco does suprises me anymore. What does suprise me is WE THE PEOPLE allow him do do the things he has in the past.
    He has tested the waters numerious times and has always came out in great shape with congress. Not so good of shape with the rest of America, low poll ratings.
    I would not be suprised to see him declare martial law prior to the next election and try to continue in office.

  10. Leila A. says:

    Independence – let us remember that our forefathers fought a revolution in 1776 to evict an occupying, colonial power. They set up a new government with NO KING or emperor, only a president who is one among equals and serves all of us at the will of the vote.
    End the occupation of Iraq and Palestine. Impeach the President and Vice President. Restore habeas corpus.
    Happy Independence Day.

  11. I have refrained from discussing this because I am largely speechless.
    I am not a military man, but it seems to me that – henceforth – the military will have difficulty giving its Commander in Chief more than a one finger salute.
    As for the argument that Bush is just riding out the last 18 months of his office, we should consider that not only could another 9/11 then occur, but there could be other contingencies, such as a crisis in the Taiwan Straights.
    Despite which, should Bush attempt to “rally the nation,” people would be fools not to grab their wallets.

  12. kim says:

    america will address this issue.
    as soon as our tv shows are over.
    can’t miss those.

  13. robt willmann says:

    Happy 4th of July!
    And we can be happy about it, because it exists and came about from the efforts of many others.
    They have done their part.
    So what are we going to do?
    As I read the Declaration of Independence, more of the listed grievances are now operational.
    The Bush jr administration is not the only culprit. Congress has been just as bad, by enacting into law the very destructive policies promoted by the executive branch and others outside of the government. And equally guilty is the mass media, a knowing helper in the entire operation to create and assert autocratic authority in the central government.
    The real men signing the Declaration of Independence did indeed pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for the cause of individual freedom.
    On this special day, compare them with the group posturing in and near the federal government today.
    I don’t know what causes me to mention it, but consider Irving Lewis Libby, Jr., found to be a
    liar and obstructor of justice by a jury that, in the best American tradition, was extraordinarily diligent in its deliberations. And consider the person occupying the presidency who issued a commutation of his prison sentence.
    Consider Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Elliot Abrams, Dick Cheney, Bill Kristol, Michael Ledeen, and the rest.
    None of them would ever risk their lives or money for the foundations of this country. And “sacred honor” doesn’t enter this mix.
    At least the Washington Times newspaper made an effort to dispute the nullifying of Libby’s prison sentence. Bush jr made it clear when saying that he would “rule nothing in or nothing out” that a pardon later is virtually certain.
    The legal gambit was stopping prison time by the commutation but leaving the finding of guilt in place while the appeal is under way. This lets Libby continue to “dummy up” and assert his 5th Amendment right to remain silent, and blocks Congress from making him talk in a committe hearing. Then, proceed with the appeal to keep this in place while running out the clock to the 2008 elections.
    At the last possible minute, a pardon can be issued.
    The coverup of what really lay behind the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson’s line of work will then be complete.
    Busting up Valerie Wilson’s CIA career to retaliate against her husband’s criticism of the Bush jr administration was secondary and just icing on the cake. Cheney and Libby and others knew what the counter-proliferation division of the CIA did and what can happen to exposed informant networks. Read Robert Novak’s original article revealing Valerie’s job; he is hardly critical of Joe Wilson.
    To the Bush jr group and its domestic and foreign supporters, it was Valerie Plame Wilson who had to be stopped, not her husband Joe. The phony story that Saddam Hussein was trying to get uranium from Niger, Africa, and the forged documents about it? That was all old news. But Valerie Plame Wilson, by virtue of her work, probably knew the new news on what might really be the case with serious weapons, if any, in Iraq and Iran. And, surprisingly, some of what her husband was saying was being reported in the press.
    The false public reason for launching the aggressive war against Iraq was that it was so stuffed with serious weapons that it was a “threat to the world”.
    Sending U.S. soldiers into a real war to be killed and maimed based on false pretenses and fraud is treason, baby.
    South of the border, back in 1911, Emiliano Zapata presented the Plan de Ayala, which ended with “Libertad, Justicia, y Ley”.
    It’s a sobering exercise to get a pencil and pad of paper and take the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, replace a couple of things with their present counterparts, and start writing down the problems we the people face today from the federal central government.
    The Second Declaration of Independence.
    Now more than ever.

  14. Grimgrin says:

    When I heard this I thought the US seriously needed to amend it’s constitution. Call it the Clemency Amendment “The President shall not issue any pardons against a person involved, either as a defendant or material witness in active criminal prosecutions, nor shall he issue any pardon to any person who is convicted of a crime committed while they held office in or were acting as an agent on behalf of the United States Government”.
    That would fix this problem nicely.

  15. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Columnist Jim Lobe has an interesting take on his blog. He says,”One of the most irritating things about mainstream media coverage of the Bush administration, including its coverage of the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence, is its pervasive use of the word “conservative” to describe the administration’s (and Libby’s) core supporters. To me, this has given respectable semantic cover to what really are a collection of right-wing radicals – mostly ultra-nationalist hawks, like Libby’s former boss and John Bolton; pro-Likud (and, in the case of the older generation, often former Trotskyite) neo-conservatives, and leaders of the Christian Right — who have made clear time and again that they have little or no respect for law and tradition if either one should somehow constrain their freedom to make the world a better place. (For more on the Libby case and the neo-cons’ Nietschean exceptionalism, see Scott Horton’s blog entry today at the Harper’s Magazine website.)….”
    Scott Horton at Harper’s says, “For the Nietzschean Neocon man (let’s call him Übermensch or perhaps even better, Scooter Libby), there are no rules; they exist for the people of the herd. And that explains the indignation when the rules for the herd are applied against Scooter….” http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/07/hbc-90000436
    Nietzschean supermen beyond good and evil..sums up their self-perception I should think given the twisted ideas of the Neocon cult guru, Professor Leo Strauss, a very clever Nietzschean par excellence. “Scooter” was Wolfie’s student; Wolfie was Allen Bloom’s student; Allan Bloom was Leo Strauss AND Alexandre Kojeve’s student so what would one expect? And Carl Schmitt, the leading Nazi jurist, was Leo Strauss’s professor and benefactor. So no surprises.
    And wasn’t “Scooter” the lawyer for 15 years of the well-known and shady international business operator Marc Rich (aka Mark David Reich), “pardoned” by who was it?
    As Wiki says, “During hearings after Rich’s pardon, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who had represented Rich from 1985 until the spring of 2000, denied that Rich had violated the tax laws…”

  16. Will says:

    i flew both the stars and stripess and the union jack on the fourth. the union jack, wistfully.

  17. JohnS says:

    Leila A. above asked: “Colonel? We are indeed outraged. We are concerned about the fate of our republic. We vote. We call our congresspeople.
    What else can we do?”
    Here’s what they do quite effectively in France: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2006-03-28-france_x.htm

  18. Different Clue says:

    The question is asked: what else can we do? The answer is offered: have huge
    protests which shut down society such as they have in
    France. The further question might well be asked: well..why don’t we?
    “Why are Americans so docile?” Why indeed? Including me? Why am I so unlikely to get out on the streets and have a good old-fashioned riot? Or even a non-violent General Strike?
    Several answers have been offered up-thread..shell shock, learned-resignation carefully taught (studied non-response and non-results
    to protest after protest after protest will teach you
    that…), systematic misleadership and betrayal by the visible leaders of the sticky-ball-trap velcro-decoy “opposition” party, etc. There is another which
    I had not thought about till
    I read an article called “Why Are Americans So
    Docile?” URL is here:
    It makes a very interesting case for its theory.
    Indeed..who among us is ready to stake their jobs, their retirement, their sacred health care, upon the swift-and-sure firing sure to follow leaving work to join a mass protest? I’m
    not, so how can I tell anyone else they should be?
    So what am I willing to do, and therefor in a position to suggest others do?
    A more diffuse untaggable
    and unfireable form of the General Strike would be the General Consumption Strike, where people spend a little less, and then spend rather less, and then spend a LOT less, in order to constrict the economy in order to threaten revenue-streams moving up the social class ladder to Society’s Commanders at the top of the
    pyramid. What if 50 million
    non-poor people payed off their entire credit-card balances and then stopped using their credit cards for
    any purpose whatsoever? Could they actually choke off the flow of revenue to major credit-based institutions so as to threaten their survival? And would that get the attention of our Ruling Class?
    What if 50 million liberals all started running
    their cars as much as possible, to fill, empty, and fill their gastanks over and over? What if they
    even went to the extreme of letting their cars sit and idle off a full tank of gas all the way to empty in their own driveways? Could they drive gas up to $5.00/gallon? Up to $8.00/gallon? Would this cause enough civil strife and disorder to get the attention of the Ruling Class? It would be a legal and non-violent thing to do, and it would not get you fired from your job.
    I live alone with no dependents to answer to, therefor I get to set my own
    comfort levels without having to cater to anyone else’s. I make $30,000/year
    plus benefits, and I live quite nicely without a car in my decent-bus-system college town. Not everyone can do that, but how close could the Modest Millionaire
    Democrats bring their standard of living down to that same $30,000/person/year? How many people doing that would
    it take to precipitate another Great Depression, if
    that is what it takes, to bring down the current system in order to be able to fight our enemies on a more equal footing amid the economic rubble? Sounds harsh, but if that is what it takes to bring down the Buscists, how many people are willing to do it? Just bring their standard of living down to the $30,000/year which is plenty
    comfortable for me already?
    In a narrower scope, is there a way to force the Democratic Leadership to stop stealth-supporting President Bush? And really,
    taking impeachment “off the table” is an expression of deeply heartfelt support for
    President Bush, however much
    Pelosi might lie to the contrary about her motives.
    Well, there was an interesting suggestion on another blog. What if millions of people called bussinesses in Pelosi’s district to jam the phones and crash the phone-lines, and keep them jammed and crashed until San Francisco’s local Ruling Class ordered Pelosi to put impeachment “on the table”?
    What if millions of people called all the Power Yuppie Restaurants and all the Power Lobby Law Firms in Washington DC until their phones were jammed and systems crashed? And STAYED
    jammed and crashed until the
    Power Yuppies and Lobby Lawyers ordered the Democratic Party to put impeachment “back on the table”? What if all the Democratic Party donors withheld funding from every Democratic-connected person or institution until the Democrats risked starving to death as a party for utter lack of any money at all? And what if the donors really were really prepared to exterminate the Democratic Party through total de-funding if the Party refused to initiate impeachment? “Nice little Party you got there. Too bad if something was to happen to it.”
    There is a lot we can do, if we are prepared to think in terms of Economic Trench Warfare. All legal.
    All non-violent. None of which would get any one individual fired as a political example. All of which could add up to precipitate the Great Depression which the Ruling Class might rather avoid.

  19. I am NOT running my car to waste gas to drive up the price of gasoline. Carbon emissions, come on.
    That said – spend less – I love that idea. Economic pressure. It’s a lovely fantasy. It will happen about as soon as the Revolution my parents’ generation waited for in such hope. Kind of like The Rapture.
    BUt I do like a national strike and economic pressure as tools. Quit shopping the malls and Target, quit buying stuff for a week, a month. See how long before Wall Street cries uncle. My husband will never take off work to protest, but he supports me, and I can go protest.

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