Predictably, that 20 or so percent of people who support the president 100% were on standby alert the morning after Mr. Bush granted clemency to Scooter Libby. Armed, no doubt, with marching orders from right-wing radio and TV they called Washington Journal to rant about Clinton’s perjury and his pardons and the classified materials Sandy Berger extracted from the National Archives prior to testifying before the 911 Commission. Why wasn’t Clinton in prison, why wasn’t Berger prosecuted?
For his part Berger admitted his wrongdoing in taking copies of classified documents and agreed that he should not have destroyed any of the copies he reviewed even if in his judgment some of them duplicated information in the materials he returned. The investigation that followed determined that Berger had committed a misdemeanor for which he was fined $10,000 and lost his secret clearance for three years – – proceedings that went forward under the auspices of and were agreed to by the Justice Department.
Of course perjury is perjury, but lying about sexual misconduct is pro-forma behavior in divorce proceedings too numerous to count whereas exposing the identity of a covert CIA operative is on quite another, far more malevolent level. If Richard Armitage was the original source for Novak, someone at the White House confirmed the accuracy of his leak. In fact there seemed to be a legion of leakers on call to spread the news about Valerie Plame across a broad spectrum of media contacts – – one might be inclined to conclude that the White House was a little on edge about the accuracy of its claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy yellowcake from Niger.
Clinton, as may be recalled was impeached for his perjury and suffered through a long, torturous trial that was a distraction from more important matters and divulged more personal details than most of us had a right or wanted to know. The whole show was produced and directed by a Republican impeachment team that should have been ashamed to affiliate with such a mean-spirited waste of time – – a process that indulged the prurient interests of prosecutor Kenneth Starr, the lawyer who helped tobacco-company clients wiggle around accusations about the addictive qualities of their product. Such is the nature those people who often stand before the nation and claim the moral high ground. As for the much- referenced Marc Rich pardon granted by Clinton, it should be noted that Scooter Libby was Rich’s lawyer and had been trying for years to get a pardon for him.
In any event a jury found Scooter Libby guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. For those who keep insisting there was no underlying crime, the question becomes, if that is the case, why lie? The answer would seem to be that Libby and others were afraid that the truth would get them in far deeper trouble, being well aware of why they did what they did. The Vice President needed to destroy Joe Wilson’s credibility because he had disputed the yellowcake claims and went public after they appeared in the president’s state of the union speech. It cannot have been a coincidence that his wife’s identity was leaked shortly thereafter and whether they considered her to be covert or not, Libby et al knew at least that the information regarding her status was classified.
And while such bright lights as partisan lawyer Joe DeGenova spend time discussing whether Wilson’s wife was instrumental in sending him to Niger the fact is that Wilson was right – – the yellowcake intelligence was false. The CIA had misgivings about the Niger story and told President Bush not to include it in his speech; the information was eventually shown to be a trumped up scheme easily debunked. It was prematurely embraced by the White House because it served the administration’s purpose in rallying support for its call to arms.
If Bush supporters have convinced themselves that Scooter Libby (that fine man who likes children as Mary Matalin’s letter declared) should be spared the full measure of justice under our system of laws they have not convinced most of the country. The invasion of Iraq was justified by the Bush White House with deceptive, overblown claims. Libby participated in protecting those deceptions, and, by obstructing investigations into the underlying motivation for outing Valerie Plame, kept the truth locked away in the backwater of this most duplicitous of administrations.

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