THE BLOG
07/02/2007 08:02 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Libby Walks, Justice Denied?

If you've got an issue with President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice, I suppose you should take it up with the founders. The sainted drafters of the Constitution gave the president absolute discretion in these matters and Bush has excercised that discretion, behind the skirt taills of a press statement. No Rose Garden ceremony, no public embrace of the convicted felon. Just a pre-holiday dump.

It's hard to see the great miscarriage of justice that Bush needed to correct. Leave aside the war, the disparagement of Joe Wilson's wife, even the CIA's recently released chronology of her employment that made it clear that Valerie Plame was covert, had traveled abroad and fell under the purview of the Intelligence Identities Act, the suspected violation of which started this whole thing.

White collar criminals are prosecuted every day for misstatements that juries consider lies. Ask Martha Stewart. Scooter Libby was indicted by a Bush-appointed prosecutor who was given his authority by the Bush Justice Department and then a Bush-appointed judge presided while a jury of his peers convicted him on four of five counts. One of those counts involved his conversation with me. The count on which he was found not guilty involved me, too. The appelate court, loaded with such noted liberals as Reagan appointee David Sentelle, denied his appeals. Where is the miscarriage of justice that required a president, notoriously stingy with pardons, to swoop in? Is it because no underlying crime had been proven to be committed? Hmmm. None of Libby's champions seemed to mind, back in the 90s, that Bill Clinton was impeached and nearly expelled from office for alleged perjury stemming from an investigation in which no underlying crime was found. But back then Bill Kristol and others were not calling for mercy.

By all accounts, Scooter Libby is a lovely man. We have some friends in common and I believe them when they speak to his sweetness and character. Had he shown contrition and admitted that he'd made up a whopper about learning of Valerie Plame's identity from Tim Russert there'd be a greater case for a pardon. Instead, Libby went to court with the most bizarre of defenses: everyone else has a lousy memory; if my memory is bad, it's because I'm so busy and, oh, yes, I was sacrificed for Karl Rove. None of that makes sense given the panoply of witnesses--most of them Bush appointees, some Cheney confidantes--who provided the bulk of the case. Where, then, is the miscarriage?

I suspect Bush knows this, too. Why not just pardon the guy? Why leave him with the stigmata of a convicted felon and a $250,000 fine to add to his legal bills--even if they are taken care of by the generosity of so many of his friends. (By the way, can the Scooter defense fund now release the names of donors?) If Bush had the courage of his convictions, he would have been like Jack Nicholson in a A Few Good Men and admitted that he thought Wilson was a jerk and that he believed what happened afterwards was right. Instead, Bush vowed to take action against the leakers. Now with Rove's security clearance renewed in the White House and Libby's sentence commuted, we know what he meant.

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