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Lewis Libby versus Marc Rich

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There's a hue and a cry in certain parts of the polity over the Congressional interest in President Bush's commutation of Lewis Libby's jail sentence. The basic theme: Libby deserved a pardon, not just a commutation, and Bush's action was clearly on the up-and-up. So Congress shouldn't investigate the matter, and if they do Bush should claim executive privilege and tell them to sod off.

Oh, and there are the claims of hypocrisy, seeing as how Clinton's rash of last-minute pardons barely raised any Democratic eyebrows.

That last charge has a ring of truth to it. Democrats often are loath to criticize a Democratic president, just as Republicans often are loath to criticize a Republican. They tend to express their opposition through lack of support, not active criticism. It's why divided government is a generally a good thing: neither party can be trusted to police itself.

That said, Clinton's pardons drew bipartisan criticism — particularly his pardon of Marc Rich, which hardly anybody defended. Likewise, even many Libby sympathizers think Bush was wrong to pardon him.

Starting with that similarity, let's compare the Libby case with the Rich case and see where we end up.

Bush: Commuted the sentence of a man convicted of lying to investigators looking into possible illegal actions in the White House, raising suspicions of a coverup and a pardon based on connections, not the facts of the case.
Clinton: Pardoned a fugitive whose wife was a major Democratic donor, raising suspicions of a "pardons for cash" deal and pardon based on connections, not the facts of the case.

Bush: Commuted Libby's sentence without consulting the Justice Department, the prosecutor in the case or going through normal channels.
Clinton: Pardoned Rich without consulting the Justice Department, the prosecutor in the case or going through normal channels.

Bush: Has claimed executive privilege to prevent subpoenaing of aides and documents.

Clinton: Waived executive privilege, allowing Congressional investigators to subpoena aides and documents.

Bush: Nearly silent on his reasoning for the commutation.
Clinton: Wrote a New York Times op-ed piece defending his pardon.

Bush: Faces the prospect of multiple hearings and press conferences from Congress over the commutation.
Clinton: Endured multiple Congressional hearings and press conferences over the pardon, culminating in a lengthy report from the House subcommittee chaired by Rep. Dan Burton.

Bush: No special prosecutor — yet.
Clinton: Endured an investigation from a special prosecutor, first Mary Jo White and then the ubiquitous James Comey, who eventually closed all the probes without seeking an indictment.

So what we have today is a Democratic Congress acting almost exactly like a Republican Congress did in 2001.

I had and have no problem with the Republican investigations of the Rich pardon. The special prosecutor was a little over the top, but the hearings and criticism were well-deserved. It was yet another personal low point for Clinton in an administration that had many of them. It was yet one more example of Clinton's split personality — so questionable personally, but so successful and popular on a policy and political level.

Similarly, though, I have no problem with the Democratic investigations of the Libby pardon. And I think Bush should follow Clinton's example and waive privilege in this case.

Bush himself, by the way, is laudably (if wrongly) consistent in this matter. He criticized the pardon in 2001, but didn't call for an investigation, saying Clinton had the right to do it. He later said it was "time to move on" — partly out of fear that the continuing probes would hamper passage of his own political agenda. Bush's other main motive: a desire to preserve and expand the power of the executive branch, something not helped by a Congress questioning an enumerated Constitutional power.

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About Sean Aqui

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    good read…and good job on the links citing your assertions

    /golfclap

    Excelsior?

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    Thanks, Gonzo.

  • moonraven

    There is no such thing as a “deserved” pardon.

    (Or, if there is, then the entire system of so-called law in the US–recently made obsolete by fiat of the attorney general, ole speedy gonzales–is completely irrelevant. In which case it is time tp unload all those expensive prisons and get rid of the entire judicial system–and save some money.)

    Presidents simply have the right to abuse their power in the name of the constitution.

    Why not stop foaming and fuming and make an ammendment?

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    An amendment would be great, but I’d settle for an executive order that banned pardons for anyone connected personally or politically to the president or senior levels of his administration.

    That could have some unintended consequences — it probably would have prevented Ford from pardoning Nixon, for example, which was arguably a good move. But it would also have prevented the Iran-Contra, Marc Rich and Libby pardons.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    problem with an executive order would be that one Pres would sign it, the next would revoke it as convenient

    it’s not following the guidelines that tends to lead to rampant fuck ups

    normally the pardon is supposed to happen only after the one being pardoned admits guilt and shows remorse…in neither of the cases used as examples in this Article did these bastards do either…

    hence the impropriety

    but i do like the Idea of an Amendment stating what Sean proposes…nobody with ties to the Administration are eligible for pardons

    good luck getting it passed, the greedhead pig fuckers and shitweasals wouldn’t even pass it out of spite, because they would want their side to have the ability when they were in office

    where’s Diogenes and his lamp when we need it?

    Excelsior?

  • moonraven

    It’s not Diogenes that’s needed, it’s The Honest Man.

    Asking for an executive order is asking the fox to guard the henhouse. Again.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    hence my addition of the Lamp…to find that “Honest man”

    Excelsior?

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    But an EO is eminently more achievable than an amendment. And while it could be revoked by a later Oval Office occupant, can you imagine the political firestorm that would provoke?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    understood Sean…but such a firestorm hasn’t stopped either of your examples, has it?

    that’s why so many have been done on that last day in office as they are walking out the door…in the second term, who cares?

    Excelsior?

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    True, but then there’s never been an EO explicitly stating what’s acceptable and what’s not.

    And as a side benefit to the president, just imagine how many “pardon my friend” conversations such an EO would derail.

    It’s worth a try, anyway, as a short-term stopgap while working through the time-consuming process of an amendment.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    i can agree it’s well worth a shot

    it should be on the question list for the Presidential candidates this election cycle

    that could make the debates a little more lively, imo

    Excelsior?

  • moonraven

    Sean,

    It would provoke no such firestorm. It would not change anything at all–hence no storm of any kind needed.

    I think you are being deliberately ingenous now.

    Just let it go.

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    I think you are being deliberately ingenous now.

    Not my style, Moonraven.

    An amendment would be great, but best case it would probably take years to pass. An EO could be written tomorrow if a president could be induced to write it.

    Gonzo’s idea about asking the candidates about it is an excellent one.

  • moonraven

    Tomorrow????????????????????????

    Bush could be convinced to write an EO prohibiting his recent behavior?

    That’s WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY beyond deliberately ingenuous.

    I am off to find lunch and will not be back to this silly thread.

    You folks are just pissing in the wind now.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “Likewise, even many Libby sympathizers think Bush was wrong to pardon him.”

    Error #1 – Bush did NOT “pardon” him…

    “Clinton: Pardoned a fugitive whose wife was a major Democratic donor”

    Error #2 – It was his ex-wife…

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    Moonraven: Stop taking things so literally. I meant in general. EOs do not have a cumbersome, time-consuming process attached to them.

    RJ: Yeah, I caught error #1 after the article had already published. You’ll note I had it as “commutation” everywhere else.

    As for error #2, you’re right; my bad.

    Neither, of course, is significant to the substance of the post.

  • moonraven

    I will take things exactly as they are written.

    You adolescents are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sensitive.

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    I will take things exactly as they are written.

    IOW…. literally.

    You adolescents are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sensitive.

    Okey-doke.

  • http://LesPaulisanexcellentguitarplayerwithanadmirablegraspofgoodjazz. bliffle

    Pardon me for making this point again, but Clinton alibied his Marc Rich pardon by pointing out that the IRS thereby recovered $156million in back taxes (but I think BillyC was just dazzled by Denise Richs decoletage, as I was, weren’t you?).

  • Arch Conservative

    “Similarly, though, I have no problem with the Democratic investigations of the Libby pardon.”

    It was a commutation, not a pardon.

    If memory serves me Dogenes never found his man, is that correct?

    We can’t keep electing the same people over and over again or even elect new people to the same old system and expect to get different results.

    We need to change the system and the best place to start is with term limits and salary caps for congress.

  • Alec

    Sean – Interesting post. However, I think that there are other useful comparisons and ironies to be derived from the Libby case.

    Bush true believers strenuously hold to the idea that Libby deserved a pardon, not just a commutation because they refuse to believe that Libby, or any other un-indicted co-conspirator in the White House, broke the law. They are in effect arguing for jury nullification and believe that their president is above the law since ultimately he is “doing the right thing.”

    As an aside, even though Bush originally promised to fire those who leaked Valerie Wilson’s identity, ultimately Bush’s defenders view this action as part of their mandate to do whatever they deem necessary to “protect the American people,” and that any opposition or complaint is unpatriotic.

    Clinton’s detractors saw his pardon of Rich as just further evidence of personal and political corruption. Even Clinton’s defenders could not go very far in offering any positive reason for the Rich pardon.

    Ironically, in running against Gore and the Clinton legacy, Bush and the Republicans promised that they would DO better than the Democrats, and that they would be more honorable.

    Now they argue that they do not have to do better. They instead argue, that they are inherently better people than the Democrats. They are, as the ruling class used to more freely declare in public, that they are “the right kind of people,” and that consequently anything that they do is by definition appropriate. Neither law nor morality really applies to them. Note that, for example, Bush used this notion of “the right kind of people,” not the most ethical or qualified in offering Harriet Miers as a potential Supreme Court Justice, and it is worthwhile to keep track of those conservatives who backed this foolish nomination.

    Also, it is useful to note that Libby, who had been one of Rich’s lawyers from 1985 to 2000 had once argued strenuously that Rich’s punishment was excessive and uncalled for. Ultimately, the Rich case is not about Democrats vs Republicans, but about political figures of both parties taking care of their rich and powerful cronies.

    Clinton’s pardon of Rich may have been done without the president going through normal Justice Department channels, but was consistent with his constitutional authority.

    The judge in the Libby case has noted that even though the president may have had the constitutional authority to commute Libby’s sentence, his actions went beyond bypassing Executive Branch procedure, but may have violated separation of powers by negating the law and legal precedents. And keep in mind here that the judge was appointed by Republicans.

    Bush claimed that Libby’s punishment was excessive even though the Republicans have consistently pushed for sentencing guidelines that would prevent “activist judges” from overriding prosecutors and juries. Attorney General Gonzales was even pressing Bush Administration sponsored legislation that would further limit judges’ discretion.

    The judge’s sentence in the Libby case was fully within legal guidelines, and at the lower end of the punishment scale. Still, he was overridden.

    The judge also noted the additional irony that an administration that is always blathering about original intent and strict interpretation of the Constitution defied all law and precedent by commuting Libby’s sentence before he had served a second of jail time.

    The president’s power to pardon shows the founders grappling with the idea of what exactly a president was supposed to be, and giving the president a power that was consistent with that of 18th English monarchs, the power to grant pardon or clemency. Governors, of course, have a similar power, with some constraint.

    I don’t think that I would tinker with the Constitution to restrict this authority. Ultimately, those who thought that Clinton’s pardons were egregious could punish him indirectly by voting the Democrats out of the White House.

    The question, then, is whether the citizenry will similarly hold Bush and the Republicans accountable, or will they instead, seeking to provide themselves with a false sense of security, continue to think like 18th century people themselves and continue to endow this and future presidents with something that repulsively resembles the divine right of kings.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    As an aside, even though Bush originally promised to fire those who leaked Valerie Wilson’s identity,

    Which he couldn’t very well do since Richard Armitage had already resigned during the course of the investigation, in which he as granted protection as a friendly witness.

    I’ve been reading up on Armitage. Of the figures in the case he seems like one of the most interesting and believable. It leaves me wondering why he leaked the name and the fact that he – of all people – did it, given his anti-Bush leanings and past history, makes me wonder what else was going on behind the scenes. I’ve always found Wilson to be extremely slimy, and I bet there’s more to the story that doesn’t reflect well on him.

    Dave

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    Bush actually said that he would fire anyone who illegally leaked the name. So he’s covered — helped by his own incuriousness about getting to the bottom of the matter.

  • Alec

    Dave: re: I’ve been reading up on Armitage. Of the figures in the case he seems like one of the most interesting and believable. It leaves me wondering why he leaked the name and the fact that he – of all people – did it, given his anti-Bush leanings and past history, makes me wonder what else was going on behind the scenes. I’ve always found Wilson to be extremely slimy, and I bet there’s more to the story that doesn’t reflect well on him.

    It’s really quite simple. Bush and Cheney were aching to go to war, and arrogantly sought to rein in, to crush or to discredit anyone who was not going along with the plan. And while the right wing crowd who love to drink the ideological Kool-Aid decry the supposedly liberal media, the Bush Administration figured that they could indulge in standard Beltway political in-fighting by having Valerie Wilson’s name leaked to friendly lapdog reporters and pundits like Robert Novak and the NY Times Judy Miller and others.

    When it began to look as though that they had been tripped up by their own cleverness and stumbled into doing something illegal, the Bush Administration had to step up the negative PR campaign against Wilson, correctly guessing that conservative true believers would bend over backwards to rationalize what was done, instead of asking the simple question of why anyone would bother to leak Mrs Wilson’s name in the first place instead of simply firing her or charging her with something if they truly felt that she was behind anything unethical or illegal.

    But instead, they found that they had to at least pretend that they respected the rule of law before finally offering Libby his get-out-of-jail card for protecting Rove, Cheney and others.

    Sean – RE: Bush actually said that he would fire anyone who illegally leaked the name.

    Of course, it is hard to see how anyone could have LEGALLY leaked the name.

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    Alec: Simple: If the leakers didn’t know Plame was covert, it wasn’t illegal.

    Doesn’t mean it was a good idea. And it’s reasonable to think they should have known, or at least checked.

  • http://LesPaulisanexcellentguitarplayerwithanadmirablegraspofgoodjazz. bliffle

    Yes, it’s a mystery what they hoped to accomplish by outing Plame. Unless it was just general intimidation against future whistleblowers: “we can cost you your job”.

    The fact that they risked so much for such little reward demonstrates their poor judgement and poor decision-making skills, and reinforces my previous conclusion that they are just piss-poor decision-makers with piss-poor judgement and they should NOT be in power.

  • Alec

    Sean – RE: Simple: If the leakers didn’t know Plame was covert, it wasn’t illegal.

    Uh, no. I don’t think that this is necessarily true. Ignorance of law and regulations is not usually a legal defense.

    However, my gut feeling is that Bush, Rove, Cheney and others did not care whether Valerie Plame was covert. They were focused on discrediting Wilson and also arrogantly presumed that they could cover up whatever mess resulted from their actions.

    And to me, it goes beyond that “they should have known or at least checked.” Knowing the law, knowing the personnel (or at least having people in place who knew the score and relying on honest input) is the core of their frickin’ jobs. Instead they politicized and trivialized the CIA just as they later sought to turn the US Attorney’s office into another nest of compliant cronies.

    I detest this crowd, and not because I disagree with their political ideology. They remind me of small town, small minded burghers who think that everything they do is right simply because they are in charge and know the richest guys in the county. These bumblers are not ready for the big leagues, and certainly do not belong in any position or office where they are responsible for any person’s reputation or life.

    It is significant here that Bush continues to bleat about how his job is to protect the American people, and that presidential aide Sara Taylor tellingly spoke about her oath to the president during her recent, and reticent, testimony before Congress. These are supposedly true conservatives, tough minded, rock-ribbed hard-headed Republicans. These are the people who on Monday, Wednesday and Friday brag about how smart and tough they are, but who on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday can’t recall, simply forgot or just misspoke. And yet they simply have no clue that their oaths are to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. They are a disgrace to the United States and to everything that this country represents.

  • moonraven

    I don’t know what you think the US represents–besides savage capitalism, genocide, imperialism, obese people and drug dependent bozos incapable of finding their way to the toilet to put the seat down, but:

    You’re right–The Bush Gang is a disgrace–to the species, familiarly called the human race.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “I don’t know what you think the US represents–besides savage capitalism, genocide, imperialism, obese people and drug dependent bozos incapable of finding their way to the toilet to put the seat down”

    The was beautiful, moonraven. Absolutely beautiful.

    I bet you could give one hell of an inspiring Fourth of July speech to the Daughters of the American Revolution.

  • Alec

    moonraven – RE: I don’t know what you think the US represents–besides savage capitalism, genocide, imperialism, obese people and drug dependent bozos incapable of finding their way to the toilet to put the seat down, but:

    Even if I agreed that the US represents all this, I think that it is still better than the alternatives. What existing nation or government do you offer as a superior example?

    In case it is not clear, I have a tremendous admiration, affection and respect for the Constitution, how it seeks to establish a workable government, and how it seeks to define the powers and limits of that government.

    It is appalling to see how Bush and Cheney consistently look for exceptions and interpretations that increase their authority, and also how nakedly at times they seek just to ignore checks and balances and the idea of a separation of powers.

    For example, I recall how Bush tried to suggest that since he thought that Harriet Miers was the right woman for the job, then the Senate should just have done an up and down vote for her and confirmed her nomination. He either had no idea of, or any respect for, the constitutional responsibility of the Senate to give their advice and consent. The same is true of his attempt to use recess appointments to get his US attorney choices installed.

    Equally appalling are the Bush true believers who are willing to shred the Constitution so that they can get a government that reflects their political and religious values.

  • moonraven

    Just about any country is superior to the US in my book. Even the country where I live, Mexico.
    Yep, it’s corrupt as hell, but the last time I looked, it wasn’t invading other countries for their natural resources or because its president fell out of bed–or was that off the wagon–and thought he heard The Voice of God telling him to destroy planet Earth.

    (Well, if you don’t count that Pancho Villa invaded Columbus, New Mexico….)

  • Clavos

    You talk a lot, mr, but talk is cheap.

    I notice you wave your US passport all over the BC site, and constantly invoke your rights (most of which don’t even exist in Mexico) as a “US citizen.”

    Yep. Talk (and hypocrisy) is cheap…

  • moonraven

    Too bad clavos has forgotten that he is not on my list of folks with whom I have communication.

    Alzheimers is right around the corner–soon he can join his heros Ronnie and “Ben Hur”….

    Meanwhile, moonraven is happy as hell in Mexico and couldn’t care less about what happens to the US after she flushes it.

  • Clavos

    Too bad Clavos doesn’t give a damn whether or not mr communicates with him…

  • moonraven

    Methinks the boatboy protests too much–considering that he keeps trying to engage me.

    No Carl Hiassen villains for this happy lady.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    methinks some should just get a room and work it all out in sweaty fashion and get over some shit

    just a Thought…

    (and NOT one ya really want bouncing around in yer head….all bones and sandpaper…)

    heh

    Excelsior?

  • moonraven

    Nobody ever gets over anything unless through Radical Forgiveness.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    wouls have almost been Funny, if it hadn’t been such crass commercial bullshit snake oil

    but thanks for trying

    Excelsior?

  • Clavos

    “methinks some should just get a room and work it all out in sweaty fashion and get over some shit”,

    Not me, gonzo. Not even with yours (if you know what I mean).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    heh

    now Clavos…did ya really think i expected it ta be that easy?

    but ya gotta admit, yas go at each other like an old married couple

    just a Thought…

    Excelsior?

  • Alec

    moonraven – RE: Just about any country is superior to the US in my book. Even the country where I live, Mexico.
    Yep, it’s corrupt as hell, but the last time I looked, it wasn’t invading other countries for their natural resources or because its president fell out of bed–or was that off the wagon–and thought he heard The Voice of God telling him to destroy planet Earth.

    You are joking, right? Mexico? A country which is not only corrupt, but one of the two model oligarchies that Bush admires and desperately wants the US to emulate (the other being Saudi Arabia)? A country of tremendous resources, but with a gigantic inferiority complex? A country in which many of its citizens are so twisted with a mix of pride and self-hate that its upper class declares that it is Spanish, and not Mexican, and which is so backwards in its racism that at times newspaper ads openly admit that people who are too old, too dark or too Indian looking will not be considered for jobs?

    A country that denies its own history of racist imperialism more thoroughly than Japan denies the atrocities that its military committed during WW II, a country which pretends to be proud of its indigenous roots, but which still savagely suppresses the rights of Yucatecos and other native peoples?

    A country which loves to parade the fantasy life of the wealthy upper classes in its novelas, and yet saw members of its upper class practically issue a fatwa against the photojournalist who exposed the excessive, shallow, meaningless existence of upper class dolts in the subversive book of photographs, Ricas Y Famosas?

    A country choking to death on pollution and in which businesses are allowed to flout some of the weakest environmental laws in the world? A country which squanders its oil wealth, and with a inefficient tax system which is so corrupt that needed social service programs can never be funded?

    That Mexico? A Mexico in which Scooter Libby would feel right at home? OK, just checking.

  • http://LesPaulisanexcellentguitarplayerwithanadmirablegraspofgoodjazz. bliffle

    Sara Taylor said she gave an oath to the president, and here I thought the Original constitution written by the Originalist founders originally meant for appointees to give their oath to the constitution. But maybe some Strict Constructionalist logic by modern Strict Constructionists indicates otherwise. Can any Strict Constructionists around here clear this up?

  • Arch Conservative

    “You’re right–The Bush Gang is a disgrace–to the species, familiarly called the human race.”

    Yes, as was that syphillis ridden monkey Che Guevara.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Moonraven, comment #14: I am off to find lunch and will not be back to this silly thread.

    2 hours, 12 minutes later:

    Moonraven, comment #17…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    ya know Doc..i bit my tongue on that one, but good to read i ain’t the only one that spotted it…

    a prize fer Doc’s eagle eyes

    Excelsior?

  • STM

    Alec: “Even if I agreed that the US represents all this, I think that it is still better than the alternatives. What existing nation or government do you offer as a superior example?”

    In a word, Australia … :)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    but yas talk funny and are upside down!!

    however, Australia, NZ, UK, Ireland , Norway, Sweden, and Holland are all on yer gonzo’s short list as worthwhile places to live

    but i ain’t one fer too much heat, i wilt like Romaine lettuce in a sauna…so Aussie land is pretty much out fer me

    but i digress….

    Excelsior?

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    Alec says: “Uh, no. I don’t think that this is necessarily true. Ignorance of law and regulations is not usually a legal defense.”

    Generally, you’re right. But in this particular case, the law in question requires “knowingly” outing a covert agent. If you can plausibly claim you didn’t know she was covert, it’s not a crime even if you broadcast her identity on global television.

    I’m no fan of Bush or Cheney, God knows. But it’s important to keep criticisms firmly within the bounds of the facts. I think they can be firmly excorciated for carelessness, negiligence and misplaced priorities without insisting that their actions were illegal.

  • Alec

    Sean – RE: [“Uh, no. I don’t think that this is necessarily true. Ignorance of law and regulations is not usually a legal defense.”] Generally, you’re right. But in this particular case, the law in question requires “knowingly” outing a covert agent. If you can plausibly claim you didn’t know she was covert, it’s not a crime even if you broadcast her identity on global television.

    You are right here, and this is a fair point. However, I think that the full story still has yet to be told here, in part because Washington reporters love their sources and their insider status, without regard to their political ideology. As I noted before, my gut feeling is that the Bush White House thought that they were just playing standard political games by outing Valerie Plame.

    HOWEVER, this is an administration that continually sells itself as competent and tough-minded. They are the ones in charge. They are responsible for the CIA and its operations. It goes beyond ordinary negligence for them to have made this mistake, to have tried to cover it up, and to now to try to minimize it. The narrow legal question is not, for me, the heart of this mess. I abhor any political figure who screws up royally, and then tries to play it off as trivial because they are doing more important things.

    It would be cosmically comical if the people involved in outing Plame, despite all their years of government service, and all their supposed expertise, did not know the significance of her Non-Official Cover (NOC) status. Even if I look at this with totally cold cynicism, it says much that the political gamesters here didn’t have the brains to pull over the head of the CIA or some other official and say, “We’re about to smear Valerie Plame because she is Wilson’s wife. Is there anything about her or her job that we should know?”

    RE: I’m no fan of Bush or Cheney, God knows. But it’s important to keep criticisms firmly within the bounds of the facts. I think they can be firmly excorciated for carelessness, negiligence and misplaced priorities without insisting that their actions were illegal.

    This is not quite right. Libby was convicted of : one count of obstruction of justice; two counts of perjury; and one count of making false statements to federal investigators. He was not charged with nor convicted of leaking Plame’s name.

    Now, people who claim that there was no “underlying crime” so Bush’s commutation of Libby’s sentence is somehow justified are going beyond the bounds of facts. They are making up laws and exceptions to law that do not exist.

    Again, let me say that the issue is not simply the narrow one as to whether the Bush Administration’s actions are illegal. They are willfully ignoring or re-interpreting prior Executive branch policies and procedures, and are re-ordering prior understandings of the separation of powers to accrue more power to a president who clearly has not read and does not understand what the Constitution means. It is worrisome that neither political party seems to clearly understand this, and not a good sign for the future of the country.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    on the order of “fair criticisms”…Bush didn’t say he would fire anyone who illegally leaked…just leaked

    this demonstrates something, since the court records show while Armitage might have been the first to leak, he was NOT the only one

    Excelsior?

  • STM

    Gonzo: “but i ain’t one fer too much heat, i wilt like Romaine lettuce in a sauna…so Aussie land is pretty much out fer me”.

    Every second bastard’s got a swimming pool. If you don’t have one, just make friends with the neighbours. Under the must-obey “mateship” laws of Australia, they thus cannot deny you on a hot day. You just take the beer …

    Simple …