Politics

Looking Glass Liars

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Justin asks about Libby’s prison sentence – “Did he deserve it?” Commenters to the post disagree along partisan talking points. Last night Wolf Blitzer made the question a campaign issue in the Republican debate:

MR. BLITZER: So yes or no, would you pardon him?
MR. GIULIANI:“…and ultimately, there was no underlying crime involved.”
MR. ROMNEY: “…in this case, you have a prosecutor who clearly abused prosecutorial discretion by going after somebody when he already knew that the source of the leak was Richard Armitage. ”
SEN. BROWNBACK: “Yes. The basic crime here didn’t happen.”

What nonsense. Consider these quotes from two special prosecutors in two high profile investigations into high ranking members of the executive branch of government.

“Any lie under oath is serious. Any prosecutor will tell you… we cannot tolerate perjury. The truth is what drives our judicial system. If people do not come forward and tell the truth, we have no hope of making the judicial system work. If someone knowingly tells a lie under oath during any investigation, it is every prosecutor’s duty to respond by investigating and proving that if you can. That is a serious matter in any case. It is obvious it is a serious matter here in a case here where there is a national security investigation. The nature of any person telling a lie under oath to a grand jury is a serious problem. Having a high level official do that under oath under a national security investigation is something can never be acceptable. And that just made it mandatory that we pursue it. “ -Patrick Fitzgerald – Press Conference after verdict – March 6, 2007

“The whole idea of equal justice under law means that you’ve got to play by the rules. It has nothing to do with the underlying subject matter. You just tell the truth. “Lying under oath, and encouraging lies under oath, does go to the very heart and soul of what courts do. And if we say we don’t care, let’s forget about courts and we’ll just have other ways of figuring out how to handle disputes,” he said. “There is no excuse for perjury — never, never, never,” he said. “There is truth, and the truth demands respect.”Ken Starr -Time Interview – Nov. 25, 1998

I agree with both prosecutors and both prosecutions. I don’t care which political party they are in. If a high-ranking official lies under oath, you take that official to the wall. No one is above the law. No one has the option of lying under oath without paying the consequences.

The identical rationale was used for impeaching Bill Clinton and prosecuting Scooter Libby. Clinton lied under oath during an investigation. He was impeached for lying under oath in an investigation into a blowjob. Libby was tried and convicted for lying under oath in an investigation about the leak of the identity of a CIA operative. It is completely irrelevant if the underlying reason for the lie under oath was a crime or not a crime. The blowjob was also not a crime. Clinton was still impeached for the lie about the blowjob. It is true that Cheney authorizing the public identification of Plame as a CIA operative was not a crime. It was not a crime since the President gave Cheney the authorization to disclose any secret information he deemed neccessary. No matter that his reason was to cover his ass politically and hide his role in selling the war to the American public under false pretenses. It was still not illegal. Just like Clinton’s blow job was not illegal. But the lies under oath are another matter.

Libby is guilty. He perjured himself. He lied. No one else is going be convicted because Libby is taking the fall for others in the administration. Does he deserve it? Is he really a criminal? I don’t think he is a bad guy. He is loyal and he thinks he is being a patriot by protecting Cheney. I feel sorry for him. But he made a choice. He chose to protect the Vice President and probably Karl Rove’s political ass, while keeping the American people in the dark about what really happened. You can admire his misguided loyalty to the people he worked for, but he owed that loyalty to the American people. He made that choice.

As a consequence he might spend a year in jail for that choice, before Bush pardons him on the way out of office. So it goes. He deserves it.

Excerpted from a post on Divided We Stand. United We Fall