"If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of.''
That was U.S. President George W. Bush speaking on Sept. 30, 2003, a time when more Americans took him at his word. Re- reading that statement shows how carefully Bush can choose his words when he really needs to.
On July 2, shortly before I. Lewis Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was to be led off to prison by federal marshals, Bush indeed took care of him. Though a convicted felon, Libby won't go to jail, not for a minute of his 30-month sentence. He won't perform community service or wear an ankle bracelet. He won't pay a fine. The $250,000 fine the White House cites as punishment will be picked up by Libby pals such as presidential hopeful Fred Thompson and other fundraisers filling his legal-defense fund.
Even Paris Hilton served some time between manicures. How does Libby get set free by a law-and-order president? Republicans cling to the weak notion there was no underlying crime proven. That certainly didn't matter when Republicans were hellbent on impeaching and convicting President Bill Clinton for perjury.
Although the prosecution gave up trying to prove there was an underlying crime, a recently released chronology of Valerie Plame's postings show she was a covert agent who had served abroad and was detailed to headquarters at the time of the leak.
Read the full column here.