Monday, March 12, 2007

Antidote to "Pardon Libby" Headlines

If the concerted pleas for a presidential pardon for poor little “Scooter” Libby tug at your heartstrings, you need an antidote quickly. Read these interviews immediately and see your mental health care professional the next morning if you continue to feel any sympathy for Libby.

'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' March 6, 2007

FORMER ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ, JOSEPH WILSON

‘I think that the idea of a senior White House official [I. Lewis Libby] being convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury is something that ought to sadden everybody who believes in public service. The responsibility of a public servant to uphold and defend the Constitution is besmirched when they‘re convicted of crimes like this.

‘On the other hand, of course, I think it reconfirms that this is, in fact, a nation of laws, and that no man is above the law. And I think we can take some satisfaction that the Constitution has been defended by the prosecution, by the system of justice, and by the jury of peers that decided Mr. Libby‘s guilt today.

‘I think there‘s an implicit and explicit conflict of interest in the president exercising his pardon authority on behalf of somebody who worked for him.’
‘Whatever the last four or five years have been like for us [Ambassador Wilson and his wife, whose secret CIA status was exposed by her own government, primarily by Libby and Cheney] it‘s been mere inconvenience compared to what this administration has done to our service people and their families in the prosecution of a war that was justified on misinformation and lies, and was really undertaken not for the national security of the United States, but to prove an academic theory, which wasn‘t a very good academic theory at that.

[Comment by Fleming: Libby had a hand in creating the neocon “academic theory” of which Wilson speaks and Olbermann ignores. More about that in another post.]

WILSON CONTINUES: ‘And I would have appreciated the president acknowledging some sadness for the fate of his covert CIA officer [Ms. Wilson], who spent 20 years serving her country, many of those overseas, many of those in what‘s known as nonofficial cover, where she didn‘t even have the benefit of diplomatic protections if she‘d been picked up for espionage.

‘Yes, I would have welcomed that. But I would also welcome from the president of the United States some acknowledgement of what he‘s put our military through in the prosecution of this war in Iraq.


'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' March 9

JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR.
(Professor of Constitutional Law at The George Washington University Law School --
a nationally renowned legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory.}

‘Lying under oath is the same creature, no matter what the subject is. As you know, I testified in Congress in support of the Clinton impeachment, even though I voted for him. I thought he should be impeached because he lied under oath. He wasn‘t impeached because he had an affair.

‘The same could be said about Scooter Libby. And it‘s very distressing to see some of the people that, frankly, were on that same side during impeachment coming to a different view.

‘You know, perjury, you lift your hand and you take an oath to God. When you go into a courtroom and you lie, and you‘re a high-level official, who either makes the laws or enforces them, our system treats that very, very harshly, because we must. You cannot have that, you can‘t tolerate that, in a system committed to the rule of law.

‘Well, I‘m not too sure how honorable a pardon would be for Scooter Libby. First of all, he doesn‘t meet the criteria and the guidelines for a pardon. This is a president who‘s always said he‘s gone by the book. Well, the book [the U.S. Justice Department pardon guidelines] says that you should wait five years after a conviction. It says it‘s much harder to get a pardon if you‘re a high-ranking official. And you have to accept guilt. All three of those go against Scooter Libby.

INTERVIEWER: . . . list of things that people have been pardoned for, everything from bank fraud to submitting false statements to federal housing administration, to one guy‘s sentence in ‘47 for possessing an unregistered whiskey still.

TURLEY: I agree with that one. But there are some offenses that are a lot more sort of dangerous for society than a whiskey still. And while people in this country seem to think perjury is a minor crime, it‘s not. In my view, it‘s one of the most serious crimes, because it undermines the entire legal system. That‘s why prosecutors hate it, because you can‘t have a legal system, particularly with high officials who engage in that conduct.

‘You can live with a few more whiskey stills, but it‘s much, much more difficult to live with high-ranking officials who lie under oath and get away with it. Prominent officials, public officials, generally get longer sentences, because they betray a public trust. And it‘s important to tell the public that we don‘t have two systems. There aren‘t untouchables in our system, even if you are Scooter Libby, and the next guy above you in the pay grade is the vice president of the United States.

INTERVIEWER: The pardon guidelines also say that for serious crimes such as breach of public trust, a, quote, “suitable length of time should elapse before granting the pardon in order to avoid undermining the conviction‘s deterrent effect.”

TURLEY: Well, you know, because this is a real problem with Scooter Libby, because if he waits the five years, he‘ll be out of jail, simply because he‘s likely to get, under the sentencing guidelines, between one and a half and three years. You‘re supposed to go to jail for some time to taste the penalty. But for Scooter Libby, he‘d have to be pardoned at some point before the president leaves office. And there are many people that say he should (INAUDIBLE) be pardoned right after sentencing. That would be almost unprecedented in our system, and it would send a very clear message.

‘In my view, it would be an great abuse of the pardon power, because he‘s accused of covering up, obstructing justice, to protect the administration. For the president to use his unique authority to give a pardon to such a person before jail, in my view, would be disgraceful.’

1 comment:

Zoey & Me said...

I read this post Fleming and also saw Turley on Keith the other night. I wonder why no one is speaking to the real inside White House truth: i.e. Libby knows too much. What if he spills his beans, what he knows about the criminal doings of Bush and Cheney? If I were Bush, I'd be shaking in my shoes right about now. He has to pardon Scooter or go down the crapper himself, Cheney too.