Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Robert Novak: Still Pushing the "no underlying crime" Meme

Novak in today's Chicago Sun- Times:

The unique aspect of the Libby conviction was that there was no underlying crime whose prosecution he is accused of obstructing. Fitzgerald determined that no federal statute was broken when then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage revealed that Valerie Plame Wilson, the wife of Bush critic Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA. But Fitzgerald prosecuted Libby for allegedly not telling the truth in the course of the investigation.

Well, that's a handy little Bushco apologist talking point, but here's the reality beyond that statement:

Since a federal grand jury indicted Libby in October 2005, numerous media figures have stated that the nature of the charges against him prove that special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation of the CIA leak case found that no underlying crime had been committed. But this assertion ignores Fitzgerald's explanation that Libby's obstructions prevented him -- and the grand jury -- from determining whether the alleged leak violated federal law.

Libby's lying obstructed justice. That's what people like Novak (as Jon Stewart calls him - the douchebag of liberty) don't seem to care about. Why should they? It's not their lives that were ruined and since they're not covert agents they don't have to worry about being outed by this criminal administration - possibly having their lives placed in danger. Covert CIA agents are "fair game", after all.

No. The only thing that matters to these apologists is that one of their own was caught and convicted and in their minds, that's simply beyond the pale. Nothing but a full pardon will do.

Here's where the disconnect between the rule of law and reality lies: "...conviction was seen by conservatives as part of the bitter assault on the Bush administration, targeting Cheney in particular."

Libby's conviction should be seen by any normal-thinking person as the punishment one gets for breaking the law because that's exactly what he did. It's the White House that has played politics with this case since day one - not the judicial system or those who wanted justice for Plame's outing. So if conservatives aren't happy today that their president didn't pardon Libby, too damn bad.

One of the prime examples of that cranky apologist mind set appears in today's Wall Street Journal. Just look at this stunning piece of revisionist history:

President Bush's commutation late yesterday afternoon of the prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will at least spare his former aide from 2 1/2 years in prison. But by failing to issue a full pardon, Mr. Bush is evading responsibility for the role his Administration played in letting the Plame affair build into fiasco and, ultimately, this personal tragedy.

Mr. Libby will have to pay a fine of $250,000 and serve two years probation. This reflects the leniency that was previously recommended by the federal probation office but was rejected by Judge Reggie Walton in his vindictive sentence.

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.

In no small part because of these profiles in non-courage, it was Mr. Libby who found himself caught up in prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's hunt for the Plame leaker, which he and his masters at Justice knew from Day One to be State Department official Richard Armitage. As Mr. Fitzgerald's obsessive exercise ground forward, Mr. Libby got caught in a perjury net that we continue to believe trapped an innocent man who lost track of what he said, when he said it, and to whom.

Libby as the victim - as if he had absolutely no responsibility to tell the truth. It just doesn't get any more disgustingly nauseating than that.

Libby is not innocent. He lied and obstructed justice. Even Bush defended the jury's verdict today:

Q Mr. President, are you willing to rule out that you will eventually pardon Scooter Libby?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I had to make a very difficult decision. I weighed this decision carefully. I thought that the jury verdict should stand. I felt the punishment was severe, so I made a decision that would commute his sentence, but leave in place a serious fine and probation. As to the future, I rule nothing in or nothing out.

Q Mr. President, federal sentencing guidelines call for jail time in these kinds of cases of perjury and obstruction of justice. Why do you feel otherwise, and are you worried that this decision sends a signal that you won't go to jail if you lie to the FBI?

THE PRESIDENT: I took this decision very seriously on Mr. Libby. I considered his background, his service to the country, as well as the jury verdict. I felt like the jury verdict ought to stand, and I felt like some of the punishments that the judge determined were adequate should stand. But I felt like the 30-month sentencing was severe; made a judgment, a considered judgment that I believe is the right decision to make in this case, and I stand by it.

What is there left to say about people like that WSJ editorialist and Robert Novak who are so desperate to believe in their own fairy tales about this case that they cannot admit the truth? Or maybe that fact is exactly it: Libby couldn't tell the truth and neither can they. In Libby then, they have found a kindred spirit - a kindred lying spirit.

It's telling that the WSJ defended Bush's illegal war in Iraq yet decided to blow a gasket just because Libby wasn't pardoned. What more do you need to know about its editorial board than that?

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