"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Truth about Libby and Plamegate

I have not seen anything this well put together to get at what actually happened in the sad affair of Scooter Libby being convicted of lying and obstruction of justice. In his inimitable way, Mark Steyn shows how utterly shameful was the conduct of Patrick Fitzgerald from the very beginning of this case. I believe the president himself and his administration deserves its fair share of the blame, but as Steyn so clearly argues Fitzgerald knew from the very beginning there was no cover up or conspiracy to “out” a covert CIA operative. But he nonetheless went on and on and on until he found somebody who slipped up.

It can’t be said any better than Steyn’s conclusion:

As for Scooter Libby, he faces up to 25 years in jail for the crime of failing to remember when he first heard the name of Valerie Plame -- whether by accident or intent no one can ever say for sure. But we also know that Joe Wilson failed to remember that his original briefing to the CIA after getting back from Niger was significantly different from the way he characterized it in his op-ed in the New York Times. We do know that the contemptible Armitage failed to come forward and clear the air as his colleagues were smeared for months on end. We do know that his boss Colin Powell sat by as the very character of the administration was corroded.

And we know that Patrick Fitzgerald knew all this and more as he frittered away the years, and the ''political blood lust'' (as National Review's Rich Lowry calls it) grew ever more disconnected from humdrum reality. The cloud over the White House is Fitzgerald's, and his closing remarks to the jury were highly revealing. If he dislikes Bush and Cheney and the Iraq war, whoopee: Run against them, or donate to the Democrats, or get a talk-radio show. Instead, he chose in full knowledge of the truth to maintain artificially a three-year cloud over the White House while the anti-Bush left frantically mistook its salivating for the first drops of a downpour. The result is the disgrace of Scooter Libby. Big deal. Patrick Fitzgerald's disgrace is the greater, and a huge victory not for justice or the law but for the criminalization of politics.

3 comments:

Jay D. Homnick said...

Steyn's writing does not have the advantage of his radio voice - namely, the British accent - but he gets it right just the same. Thanks, MDV.

Matt Huisman said...

Based on the few juror comments that I caught, Libby was convicted for the offense of an incredibly lamene defense - namely, the 'failure to remember'. I can't say that I blame them for vomiting in their mouth on that one. But I can blame them for not recognizing the ridiculousness of this whole prosecution.

Steyn nails the significant details down, but I have to believe there is a lot more backstory here involving Miller and Team Bush.

My guess is that Fitgerald finally got tired of being harrassed by all his buddies for giving people the impression that it was OK to play a USDA. (Can you imagine what would have happened if Miller had tried that with Spitzer?)

This was just a case of a man protecting his street cred - Fitz's Moby Dick is Mayor Daley.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Very interesting, Matt. With Sen. Obama of Illinois invested in Chicago's Daley machine, if it were (rightfully) brought down, he could never shake the stench, even if he were totally clean.

I also agree that Libby's defense, from what I know of it, appears preposterous. Fitzgerald's job as a prosecutor is to get convictions, and he finally got one. (In all my years of fishing, I've never caught a minnow on a baited hook, so I guess Mr. Fitz has achieved a distinction of some sort.)

Whether he should have exercised prosecutorial descretion since there was no underlying crime (it was administration semi-outsider Richard Armitage who "outed" Valerie Plame's rather uncovert status) is a question for the ages. NY attorney general Eliot Spitzer nailed the notorious inside trader Martha Stewart, and now he's the governor. The GOP senate fixed the impeachment trial and let Bill Clinton off the hook for something no better or worse than what Libby did, not to mention the somewhat fetching Ms. Stewart.

Discretion is not prized these days, especially when Republicans are guilty of it.