Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Scooter Libby . . . is . . . really . . . (gulp) guilty?

After ten days of deliberation, a federal jury today found Scooter Libby guilty on 4 of 5 counts in his obstruction of justice and perjury trial in a Washington, D.C., district court. I wasn't quite sure what the jury was going to do in this case; a few days ago, the jury asked the judge to clarify the meaning of "reasonable doubt." That bit of news did not leave me optimistic that the jury felt comfortable with the prosecution's case. But lo and behold, I was wrong.

The verdict in this case leaves me with mixed feelings. Libby certainly deserves his comeuppance. He willingly went along with the Vice-President Dick Cheney's effort to embarrass Joseph Wilson for writing his now-famous July 6, 2003 Op-Ed piece in the New York Times concluding that no relationship existed between Iraq and Niger to acquire "yellow cake" uranium as part of Iraq's desire to acquire nuclear weapons. Critical in that effort was the conscious decision to identify Valerie Wilson as a CIA operative. Although he cultivated a positive image among his friends in the Washington media prior to the Wilson affair, Libby was unable to control the flow events as they spiraled downward once the Wilsons decided to fight back. Libby learned that once the prosecutorial ball starts rolling in the direction of the politically powerful in Washington it is every person for him or herself. So the jury believed Libby was essentially a decent guy who found himself in the middle of a political shit-storm. Mmm . . . a little naive. Libby is a smart guy who had operated at the highest levels of a take-no-prisoners administration. He knew full well that he ever got caught doing anything he was to offer nothing more than name, rank and serial number.

But I also believe that Libby is simply the fall guy who will go to jail, assuming the verdict is upheld, for the desire of his boss, Vice-President Dick Cheney, to extract revenge on Joe Wilson for blowing the whistle on the false Iraq-Niger relationship. Not for a minute do I believe that Scooter Libby decided without direction from the vice-president to expose Valerie Wilson's identity. And I believe he lied about his involvement, hoping that his political benefactors would come to his defense or at least offer partial responsibility for their role in this scandal.

Not a chance.

Nine years ago, Republican wolves in Congress jumped at the chance to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about his "relationship" with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The impeachment proceedings, the Ken Starr-led investigation, the beating that Clinton took in the media . . . all of it . . . was about nothing more than the Republicans' decision to bring down a popular president. Now we have clear evidence through a criminal conviction that something wasn't quite right in the vice-president's office on an important matter of national security. If Bill Clinton can stand trial in the Senate for lying about receiving a consensual blow-job, then it makes sense that Congress can mobilize to investigate the vice-president for launching an operation to screw Valerie Wilson without her consent.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

I can see the CNN ticker for January 20, 2009 around 11:00 am already: "Bush Pardons Former Cheney Aide I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby"