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Libby Didn’t Need a Gun to Commit a Crime

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To those who are currently mourning I. Lewis Libby and the ‘harshness’ of his penalty, let’s try and put this in some perspective:

If a criminal robs a gas station at gun-point, he is liable to be put in jail for several years; in some cases, decades. What are the consequences of a gas station robbery? Loss of money from the register, possible damage to property, and emotional distress or physical harm to the individual that was threatened.

Now, whoever it was that was really responsible for the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity (which, without a doubt, was secret) was responsible for a number of negative consequences:

– Valerie Plame’s career was negatively impacted: she had presumably wanted to do fieldwork, and now it is impossible for her to do any further.
– Other agents who were known to work with the covert Plame have also had their identities compromised. Any fake companies or organizations associated with Plame’s false identity were taken out of commission.

– If it’s the case, as I’ve heard, that Plame was working in anti-nuclear proliferation, whoever leaked her identity increased, however minutely, the chance that tens of thousands of people will at some future point be killed in a massive fireball.

Ah wait, you say, but it wasn’t Libby that’s leaked the identity, it was someone else. Why should Libby be punished for another’s offense? Well, back to the gas station robber. Someone who lied to protect the robber might be less guilty than the robber himself, but he is undoubtedly guilty, and I should like to see those that are weeping over Libby’s fate call for amnesty.

One of the principle arguments that I’ve heard is that Libby is being made an example of, and that he is actually “smart as a whip” and has rendered “years of exemplary public service.”

Number one, I’ll point out that many of the people who whine that Libby is being made an example of are the same people that support the death penalty and who hold one of their principle justifications to be ‘deterrence.’

What galls me more than that hypocrisy is the sense I get that what people are really saying when they assert as a defense that Libby is smart as a whip and public servant is that who prison is for, really, is poor people and drugged up celebrities. But prison isn’t simply a holding tank for the unwashed proletariat. The whole idea is that anyone who commits a serious enough crime goes there.

The reason things are considered crimes is because they hurt people. There are crimes that are committed with violence, like robberies and assaults, and then there are crimes that are committed without violence, like the Enron scandal and Lewis Libby’s willful lies to try and keep himself and his friends out of the clutches of blind old Justice, who is so crass as to not even discriminate between ‘criminals’ and ‘politicians.’

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  • Nancy

    Good post, Mr. Jack – even more impressive for a high schooler, but then it is said that out of the mouths of babes & sucklings comes the truth, which older, more jaded or corrupt persons are blind to, willfully or not. I look forward to seeing more posting from you in future. Hopefully you can keep the same clarity of vision & impartiality thoughout your life.

    You’re right: that Libby’s crime involved no violence & he is well educated, one of the elite, does not make his crime the less harmful, nor he less worthy of punishment. In fact, IMO that he IS so educated & elite renders his transgression worse, because he has less excuse for it. Another biblical quote: those to whom more is given, of them more is expected. Argument could be made for even stiffer penalties for the Libbys & Ebers of the world, because with all the privileges, education, & advantages they have, they still deliberately & willfully did what they knew was wrong.

    It’s just a pity that Libby hasn’t enough honor & sense of justice enough to render full justice by seeing to it that Cheney isn’t in jail with him. Covering for him is no act of loyalty, but an even bigger betrayal of the public trust, compounding his original crime of lying to the FBI.

  • moonraven

    Of course he just followed orders–a la Eichmann….

  • Dan

    Well, first off it’s not a “secret” who the original leaker of Plames name to Robert Novak was. The leaker was not in the White House at all. It was Richard Armitage, a State Department official and opponent of the Iraq war. He read it in an unclassified State Department memo.

    Fitz’s opinion may well be that she was covert, but apparantly the evidence was against him. The jury was kept in the dark about Plames status.

    I guess it wouldn’t have mattered anyway since the leak didn’t come from Libby or the Whitehouse, and Armitage couldn’t be indicted under the statute since he was unaware of the possibility that Plame was covert because he got the information from an unclassified document.

    That’s the thing about this. It doesn’t legally matter if Plame was covert or not. The “crime” that Fitz was called in to investigate didn’t happen.

    The process crime that a jury pooled from overwhelmingly liberal Washington DC decided was: Was scooter lying when he said under oath that Tim Russert was the first one to tell him that Plame was the wife of pathological lier Joe Wilson? I guess the jury took Russerts word for it.

    I just wonder what motive there would have been for Libby to “lie”, since there was no one in the White house to cover up for.

    So to square events with the authors analogy, Richard Armitage unawaringly–perhaps while sleep walking–robbed a gas station at gunpoint. Somebody who sounded like Tim Russert called Libby and told him about it. Libby must’ve been horribly wrong, because now he goes to jail for 3 years.

    Oh, and the person who wrote the statute about robbing gas stations testified to a Senate committee that the station was never robbed in the first place.

    This travesty of justice should scare people, but it doesn’t.

  • Zedd

    What I found most hilarious about this situation where the people who were submitting letters to the judge on his behalf. Were they trying to get the man life? Kissinger and Rumsfeld tipped the scale.

  • bliffle

    “Fitz’s opinion may well be that she was covert, but apparantly the evidence was against him. ”

    “Apparently”? Who is it apparent to? What evidence is there?

    Plame was an undercover agent working with secret agents in foreign lands. Their lives were endangered when her identity was revealed. Libby obstructed the search for the guilty party and thus contributed to the crime, which may have resulted in foreign agents death.

  • http://lowether.blogspot.com Sam Jack

    Uh, bliffle, the evidence is definitely against you. From the MSNBC article that I cited:

    “The unclassified [meaning, I assume, that it was declassified recently] summary of Plame’s employment with the CIA at the time that syndicated columnist Robert Novak published her name on July 14, 2003 says, “Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for who the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States.””

    And by the by, Libby acknowledges that he heard about Plame from Cheney, but claims that he forgot and misremembered it as Russert.

    Now, I find your statement “Somebody who sounded like Tim Russert called Libby and told him about it” rather hilarious, because this is the Vice President we’re talking about. Do you honestly think that oh, I don’t know, Dick Cheney failed to identify himself as the Vice-President of the United States and then Libby just innocently assumed that it must be Tim Russert? The way that calls from the Prez and Veep generally work, at least based on my viewings of The West Wing, is that you pick up the phone, some aide says, “The President would like to speak with you.” and then the guy comes on.

    But you do raise a good point: why would Libby lie (oh, sorry, ‘misremember’) if there was no one to protect but Richard Armitage, who isn’t worth protecting?

    The answer that seems most likely to me is that it’s because he was protecting someone, and it was Cheney. I imagine that Cheney either flat-out said or hinted strongly that Libby should out Plame as a way of getting back at her husband.

    Whether or not Armitage was the first person to leak it is irrelevant if Cheney issued an order to bring down the hatchet on one of our spies.

  • http://lowether.blogspot.com Sam Jack

    Oh, and thanks for the compliment, Nancy, although I graduated from high school earlier this month. I should change my profile.

  • Dan

    Well Fitzgerald didn’t have enough strength in his conviction that Plame was covert to make it an issue during trial. He only uses his “opinion” now that he’s in the clear to go legally uncontested, as leverage in the sentencing phase.

    It would have required him to prove it. The most damning testimony would have been from one of the attorneys who drafted the covert agent protection statute who said she wasn’t. Under oath.

    It’s only Fitz’s opinion. He didn’t trust it enough to prosecute anyone under it.

    The liberal media love complicated stuff like this because they know it hurts peoples brains to think about it. They then spin villans out of whichever side they want and you buy in to it.

    If you think that “Libby obstructed the search for the guilty party” then you must logically believe also that Libby was unaware that the guilty party wasn’t in the White house.

    Thats why I ask what would be the motive?

  • Dan

    Sam, I meant for #8 comment to go as a reply to Biffle #5.

    Your scenario of a vindictive Cheney isn’t in the mix. It’s just something lefties in the media wanted.

    The Novak Column was the catalyst for the investigation. That was leaked by Armitage.

    Even if Cheney told Libby, there’d be nothing wrong with that. Because even if Plame were covert, VP’s and their staff have that kind of clearance. They can discuss it between themselves.

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

    If you think that “Libby obstructed the search for the guilty party” then you must logically believe also that Libby was unaware that the guilty party wasn’t in the White house.

    Not only that, Dan, but Armitage had been an outspoken critic of the administration, so not only wasn’t he in the White House, he wasn’t exactly on their team. Libby was apparently covering up for someone his superiors would have liked to see hanging in the wind. It makes no sense.

    Dave

  • http://adamash.com Adam Ash

    Nalle:
    Libby was covering for his boss Cheney, for god’s sake — like it’s expected from any loyal employee.
    Nalle, are you actually out of your mind, to suggest he covered for Armitage? Really, dude, get a brain.

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

    Well, Adam. I just followed the chain of fact. After all, it’s now established that Armitage was the leaker, so who else could he be covering for?

    Nice to see you back. Write an article maybe.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    Mr. Jack, you may have graduated from h.s. this month, but that still makes you wonderfully young to write so well & think so logically. My compliment stands :)

    I think the whole point was (as Dave refuses to recognize, as usual), not that Libby was covering for Armitage, but that he was most certainly covering for Rove, Cheney, or perhaps even Dubya. Not that that was illegal; the irony is, it probably wasn’t, given that the prez & vp may indeed have authority to leak the names of whomever they choose. But he DID cover up for Cheney/Rove/Bush, because just as damaging to this administration would have been revelation of the typical nasty Nixonian/Rovian dirty tricks, enemies’ lists, & stonewalling this white house has wallowed in since Day One. The WH & Cheney already had dirty hands & basement level approval ratings; yet more dirt would have been disastrous, so like a fool Libby tried to lie to the FBI when they asked him about it – & then lied again to the grand jury & Fitzgerald – & then tried to claim it was all “misremembering”, which is just bs lawyers’ semantics for lying, then trying to weasel out of it hoping they couldn’t pin it on him. But they did.

    So Libby’s butt in is jail, & Rove’s fat white Pillsbury-dough-boy ass is safe, as is Cheney’s. The wonder is that Libby continues to take the fall for both Rove & Cheney. Rumor has it in there here parts that Libby needn’t worry about finances & the welfare of his family – as long as he continues to take the fall. Besides, if he admits now that he DID lie … well, then he’s just dug himself in even deeper, no?

  • Zedd

    Nancy/Dave,

    I think that the point is that Libby broke the law which makes him a criminal. I was insulted that it was thought that his being a person who has been engaged in the public arena, should be considered in lessening his sentence. As if becoming a rich and successful, renowned nationally recognized mover and shaker because of working with people in government is a sacrifice and not simply a hell of a career; one that would be envied by any attorney coming out of any ivy league today.

    Libby also supported the of outing of a US spy which makes him a traitor!

  • Nancy

    As I said, if anything, his long career in government & extensive experience makes him even MORE culpable, IMO.

    Salutations on learning to spell English, Zedd. For the most part, you do very well – better in fact than some native speakers I see on this website. Did you learn English as a child, or later as a teen or adult? I’m told by non-English-speakers that the vast vocabulary & the plethora of words with the same sound but diff. spellings &/or meanings are the biggest blocks, as is the extremely fluid way sentences can be put together. German was a bitch for me, because you have to wait until the end to find out what the verb is-! And the way they string their adjectives together *shudder* is horrendous.

  • bliffle

    The curious thing about this whole Plame affair is the reasoning behind exposing Plame. Why would the admin think it advantageous to expose Plame as a CIA agent? The putative reason was to taint her husband Wilson with a nepotism smell by suggesting Plame got him the job. But that would be easily disposed of as it was known that Plame did not instigate the African offer to Wilson, but merely affirmed the offer when it was made known to her.

    So if the Plame outing was not to deter Wilson (it was too late) and could not effectively taint his editorial, what motivation remains, other than mere vengeance?

    Was the purpose to intimidate persons unknown who might subsequently come forward? Was it a general broadside against whistleblowers? If so, it would fit with the style of this administration, which is not to meet the charges of their opponents, but rather to smear, defame and scandalize them personally.

    Why, even the Bush supporters here on BC react to any article contrary to admin doctrine with quick personal charges such as ‘insane’, ‘paranoid’, etc.

    I wonder what personal failings poor old Bliffle will be accused of, since I posted a mildly rude question about Gen. Petraeus elsewhere (if he’s to be our saviour why did they wait so long to appoint him, or is he just the september fallguy?).

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