Pardoning Libby

Now that Mr. Libby has been sentenced, the conservative voices are in an uproar demanding that the President his VP’s former aide. A pardon for Mr. Libby would show a blatant disrespect for the law and would be yet another sign of corruption from an already embattled administration.

Some are claiming that the prosecution of Mr. Libby is nothing more than a politcal vendetta from an overzealous prosecutor, and many in the conservative camp have pointed to the fact that there has been no prosecution for the underlying crime (allegedly exposing the identity of an undecover CIA agent). In the minefield of hyposcrisies these claims create, a couple are particularly worth noting.

First, Mr. Libby was convicted of perjury for his false statements to investigators and a grand jury. While many on the right are eager to point out that Mr. Libby himself ‘did nothing wrong,’ many of these defenders are the same people who were calling for President Clinton’s head when he was accused of the same act.

Second, there has been no prosecution for an underlying crime partly because of Mr. Libby’s lying and obfuscation. One of Mr. Fitgerald’s underlying points is that Mr. Libby has obstructed the investigation of the leak of Ms. Plame’s identity. It is precisely because of Mr. Libby’s lying that the prosecution of the underlying crime has stalled.

Mr. Bush came into office promising a change in tone in Washington and a return to the rule of law. The warrantless wiretapping scandal, the torture of prisoners, and the politicization of the Justice Department all show how bankrupt this promise was. A pardon for Mr. Libby would be yet another slap in Justice’s face, and unfortunately, would also be par for the course for this administration.

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