Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mitigating factors that seem to escape the NY Times editorial board

Here's the WashPost's take on Scooter Libby's commuted prison sentence:

Yet there were mitigating factors in this case. After two years of investigation, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald charged no one with a crime for leaking Ms. Plame's name; he never demonstrated that a crime occurred. Early on, the prosecutor had learned that the primary source of the disclosure to columnist Robert D. Novak was then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, who was not charged. Mr. Libby's trial provided convincing evidence that the revelation of Ms. Plame's identity was not the result of a conspiracy to punish her husband, administration critic Joseph C. Wilson IV -- the allegation that caused all the partisan furor surrounding the case and that led to Mr. Fitzgerald's appointment.
The WSJ's Opinion Journal wanted a full pardon:

These columns have had cause to defend the Bush Presidency from what we've seen as often meritless or exaggerated partisan attacks, notably over national security and the Iraq war. This, however, will stand as a dark moment in this Administration's history. Joe Wilson's original, false accusation about pre-war intelligence metastasized into the issue of who "outed" his wife, Valerie Plame, as an intelligence officer. As the event unfolded, it fell to Mr. Libby to defend the Administration against Mr. Wilson's original charge, with little public assistance or support from the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell or Stephen Hadley.
I'm uneasy about derailing the judicial process with a Presidential commutation, but certainly this case had facets that were opaque to the knee-jerk Left and the New York Times editorial board. Scooter Libby was convicted for a failure of memory that afflicted witnesses on the case, for a crime that did not exist, to (allegedly) discredit a report that was utterly false.

Extra - Some proper perspective on Presidential pardons from Petsy, uh, Betsy.

More - Excellent rant from Protein Wisdom.


Brian said...


Why are you uneasy about this? The President corrected a clear injustice. Besides, why should the unlected judiciary have the last word on everything. If this is a bad political move, Republicans will pay a heavy price for it. SOmehow, I think no one outside of the Bush-haters is upset that Libby isnt going to jail.

Anonymous said...

I cannot agree that this was a clear injustice. During the trial the jurors set up 34 poster-size pages filled with information they distilled from the trial testimony. They discerned that Libby was told about Plame at least nine times, and they did not buy the argument that he had forgotten all about it.
I do however feel that Scooter Libby was the fall guy in this instance. But it does not condone what he himself was convicted of. I do believe that if any other average "Joe" were convicted of the same issues we would be serving time in jail right now.

Anonymous said...

A fall guy doesn't get pardoned. A fall guy goes to prison.

Are the Libby cheerleaders guileless children, or do they sincerely believe the B.S. "no underlying crime" meme? If you hide the gun that someone else used to hold up a bank, you've also committed a crime. Kenneth Starr's Whitewater investigation wound its way to Bill Clinton's perjury about oral sex... but now the right is shocked! SHOCKED! that Libby could be indicted without being the original leaker.

And the years of wishing by a thousand bloggers about everything Lewis Libby didn't do? It made for fun reading, but it sure didn't fool the jury. It took a shameful pardon from a shameless man to give the loyalists the result they'd rooted for.

The WSJ is the WSJ, and the NY Times is the Times. One can only expect the expected from them. The Washington Post's editorial board is one of many media outlets that was unquestioningly gung ho about the Iraq War, and it has never felt obliged to concede its original mistake. In a real sense, the Plame-Libby case was about the press' dereliction of duty. The Post's steadfast anti-indictment stance has as much to do with the Post as it does the case. But that's a "mitigating factor" the Post doesn't care to discuss.

Anonymous said...

des, do you even understand what an "underlying crime" is? If there WAS NO BANK ROBBERY, then 'hiding' a gun not used in the non-robbery is not necessarily a crime at all, and certainly is not related to an "underlying crime."

What exactly *was* the underlying crime? Can you even show that Plame was 'covert' under the applicable law? Merely showing an employment record (as Fitz did at the trial) does not meet the standard of proof that the law requires.

And why wasn't Armitage charged, if the crime existed and he admitted to it? And was Colin Powell questioned or deposed about *his* role? How about Chris Matthews? He had some severe memory problems, too, and actually contradicted himself on the stand. Either his statement at Libby's trial or his statement to the GJ must, under Fitz's rule, be a lie and he should be charged.

P.S. Are you outraged at the way Sandy Berger got off easy for committing all those secrecy violations?


Eric said...


All I can say is that the "Paper of Record" is determined to suggest that V. Plame was covert (she wasn't), that the White House sought to expose her (untrue), because her husband dared to tell the truth on uranium in Niger (he didn't). Instead, the Times seems determined to color the facts with their own bias. As a bare minimum, they should own up to the FACT that Wilson's report was a load of manure.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to assume that JorgXMcKie was being intentionally disingenuous. It would reflect badly on him if he honestly didn't get that the underlying crime was the phony case for the Iraq War. And as someone wrote this past week, "When seeking clemency for a criminal obstruction of justice, it is always considered a stroke of luck to have committed the obstruction on behalf of individuals with the power to grant such clemency."

I won't compose a back history of the Lewis Libby trial-- it's been done and done and done. And if the blogs are any indication, all discussions of the case should come with a Simon & Garfunkel theme song: "A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest."

Just the fact that people are still "debating" whether or not Valerie Plame was really and truly covert, or merely semi-demi-hemi-covert, shows how embarrassing the standoff has become. Sad to say, the CIA provided full documentation of her "previously classified" employ (in fact, wasn't it the CIA who angrily started the investigation rolling in the first place?). I do not share JorgXMcKie's confidence that the CIA paperwork failed to "meet the standard of proof that the law requires," and apparently neither did the Libby jury, nor the judge who approved their work.

I'm also not going to play the Whaddabout Game, which has become the life's blood of political thought. "Whaddabout Joe Wilson, he's a lying dick!" "Whaddabout the Marc Rich pardon, that was sleazy first!" I don't need to deconstruct all past personal failings of Sandy Berger or Richard Armitage or Socks the Cat before assessing Mr. Bush's.

The Wikipedia defense-- "assume good faith"-- is an impossible stretch here, except for the very very very faithful. Libby testified that he "was specifically authorized in advance" to pass along classified information to reporters... but we are now asked to believe that the information he passed along wasn't actually classified. Or, if it was classified, that he didn't know the classified information he was sent to tell was classified. Or that others knew it before he did. It seems Libby was authorized just because. We're also asked to believe that a person called before a federal grand jury would enter the courtroom with a vague memory, unprepared to correctly answer the questions he knew he would be asked. We are asked to believe that "everybody knew" Plame's CIA status for years, but that they all suddenly and surprisingly wanted to discuss it, off the record, in the same week or two. And that Judith Miller went to jail to protect the principle of common knowledge. We are asked to believe George W. Bush when he said he was unable to comment on an ongoing case, but see no incongruity that he is more than able to derail an ongoing appeal. We are asked to forget Bush's public promise to fire anyone known to have illegally leaked classified info. Perhaps it all depends on what your definitions of "known," "illegally," "leaked," and "classified" were; thank God nobody said "is." We are asked to believe that Libby acted as he did with no foreknowledge of the protection he would receive. And we are asked to believe that all of this occurred not because of a coverup by the notoriously open and forthcoming Vice President's office, but because Joe Wilson was such a gigantic liar that his lies might have beaten up the White House's truths.

There are loads of manure, and then there are mountain ranges of manure. Choose wisely.

Anonymous said...

A week of silence? Huzzah! I must have won! Go, me!