06 June 2007

"Scooter" gets off Easily

The newspapers I read report today [1] [2] that “Scooter” Libby has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail for lying and obstruction of justice. This of course stems from the episode that led to the outing of CIA Agent Valerie Plame because her husband Joseph Wilson had made (true) public statements critical of the Bush administration’s lies in the run up to the Iraq war. I am not a huge fan of the CIA since they mostly carry out nasty jobs (fomenting coups, training torturers, engaging in secret renditions and torture themselves, and so forth) for various U.S. administrations. That said, Libby is a lying weasel and he deserves to go to jail. Thirty months seems light time to me, even if there is a fine and subsequent parole - it is just months longer than the minimum required by the sentencing guidelines.

One interesting sideline is that there has been a coordinated letter writing campaign, beseeching the court for leniency on “Scooter’s” behalf. The campaign brought together a rogues gallery and the simply clueless, all attesting to “Scooter’s” decency, integrity, compassion, honesty, patriotism, generosity, ethical bearing, and so forth. You can find the document containing these letters here.

Many of the letters come from the clueless, those writing in to say what a good dad “Scooter” is or how wonderfully charming his wife Harriet is, and so forth. These people seem to think that just because “Scooter” travels in the right circles, he should get a break for having perjured himself. Yet, as one of the many people writing in to encourage a heavy sentence rightly remarks: “Whether he is kind to his dog, a nice guy, a good neighbor, or anything else is, of course, irrelevant to what he did and continues to do." And what “Scooter” did, of course, is lie and obstruct legal inquiry into alleged government wrong-doing that threatened the national security apparatus in the United States. I'd wager these same clueless folk typically are falling all over themselves to throw money and prerogatives at that apparatus. So I am being charitable in calling them clueless. The alternative is that they are hypocritical.

Predictably enough, pleas for leniency came bearing the imprimatur of various right wing institutions such as the Smith Richardson Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Commentary, First Things, the Hudson Institute, the Rand Corporation. They came too from a passel of retired military officers, unknown government functionaries, lawyers and corporate types. But "Scooter's" predicament also brought out the heavy-hitters among the incompetent, the ethically challenged, and the ideologically delusional, each making his or her pitch for why lying in order to subvert the rule of law is really not that bad a deed. Consider this for a bunch of character witnesses - Donald Rumsfeld, Midge Decter, John Bolton, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Mary Matalin, Henry Kissinger, Alan Simpson, Kenneth Adelman, Douglas Feith, Francis Fukuyama, and Norman Podhoretz. A vertible parade of right wingers of just the sort responsible for formulating and/or running interference for the kinds of policies that got “Scooter” into hot water in the first place.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thirty months seems light time to me, even if there is a fine and subsequent parole

Maybe so, but just wait until the asshole gets pardoned! While I'm not a big fan of arson as a strategy for activism, it makes for an interesting analysis of the U.S. justice system to compare Libby's sentencing with the other high-profile sentences making (much smaller) headlines this week -- the ELF/ALF activists who were rounded up by the FBI's Operation Backfire, and are now facing 7-12 year prison sentences for so-called "terrorism."

06 June, 2007 09:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Jason:

Burning down people's farms as a way to instill fear in people is terrorism, plan and simple. Calling ELF/ALF fanatics activists is like calling AL QUAEDA feminists. I'm surprised these guys only got 7-12 years, they should have gotten life. There is no excuse for the stupidity and destruction of their actions, no matter how "well intentioned" they might be. They are lucky they are not in China, that's all I'll say.

06 June, 2007 12:35  
Blogger tim atherton said...

I heard scooter's hiring Paris Hilton's lawyer... :-)

07 June, 2007 18:32  
Blogger tim atherton said...

on a slightly more serious note, I heard one radio article yesterday talking about the inevitability of scooter's presidential pardon - and that it had already basically been promised to him

07 June, 2007 18:33  

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