Monday, July 02, 2007

The Bush Amnesty Plan ...

For I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, that is. And it only took three short paragraphs on one single, solitary page! But, hey, it does make the light bulb go on, doesn't it? The Power of the Pardon. Hmmmmmm. If the regular legal process doesn't prevent the President from ramming amnesty down the throats of the American people for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, why not just apply it to all those 12-20 million "illegal" immigrants? Bush can get his "amnesty" for illegal immigrants after all!

UPDATE: Monday, July 2, 2007, 11:26PM -- Seriously, here's the situation in a nutshell. We have this thing called the Rule of Law. There is no better judicial system in the world than in the United States that preserves this Rule of Law. Or there was no better system. Libby was indicted, prosecuted, and convicted in strict accordance with this Rule of Law. Furthermore, if he, or anyone else, believes that there was a miscarraige of justice, then we have this thing called an appeals process that allows him, just like any citizen, to make absolutely sure that the Rule of Law applies. There are plenty of average joes who think they have gotten a raw deal from the judicial system (and some of them probably have). But their expectations for a Presidential Pardon are effectively zero. So, when Bush issues a Pardon in a case like this, for one of his cronies, which is his right, he diminishes the Rule of Law. But it's of a piece with the whole Bush Administration's politicization of the Judicial system in the U.S., so it shouldn't come as any surprise. Think of it like this: if the person facing jail time were Harry Reid's Chief of Staff under exactly the same charges, do you think Bush would be issuing a pardon? Any honest person would have to say, "No." For commuting Libby's sentence, Bush perhaps might get a bit of an uptick in his approval ratings from the relatively small percentage of the American public that constitutes the conservative base (but even that is questionable, because many of these folk are complaining that Bush didn't go the full nine yards and pardon Libby outright.) But I think that Bush, and by extension the GOP, will actually lose even more support among Rule of Law minded moderates and independents, and has just fired up the Democratic base even more. A smart Democratic presidential candidate will know how to massage this issue to keep the Democratic base fired up over the next year-and-a-half as well as to lure into the fold the moderates and independents wearying of Bush's ever more clear cavalier dismissiveness of the Rule of Law for purely political reasons. Mark my words. Watch how this plays in the polls over the next few weeks and into the 2008 election campaign. Watch particularly how it plays among the average, apolitical or moderately politically-engaged voter. These folks may not pay much attention to politics, but they certainly are attuned to the Rule of Law. And Bush did not do the GOP any favors with this commutation with regard to respect for the Rule of Law. You just watch. No matter how the conservative pundits spin this as a matter of rectifying an injustice, it's going to smack like preferential cronyism because it involves conservatives unravelling and undoing for conservatives what conservatives always generally tell folks shouldn't be unravelled and undone for anyone.


Ian McGibboney said...

Thank you, Huck, for this righteous piece of fury and for ending it on a high note. This, I hope, will mark a major turning point among even the most die-hard Bush supporters. Such contempt for the law can be ignored no longer.

Kingfisher said...


You're little post was so far off-base that I don't even think you're aware of what really happened.

Some facts you have chosen to ignore:

- Richard Armitage has opnely admitted to outing Valerie Plame. Why didn't Fitzgerald interview him? Fitzgerald had a moral obligation to investigate this but failed to do so. Armitage admitted on CBS that he provided Plame's name and said that there was perhaps "a conspiracy" at the White House? "Perhaps" a conspiracy?

- Bob Woodward confirmed that Libby was not his source (he later admitted it was Armitage). Fitzgerald never bothered to look into the matter.

- Fitzgerald has refused to provide any evidence that Plame was really covert.

- If Plame really was covert, then why isn't Wilson indicted? Wilson outed his own wife in "Vanity Fair" and on numerous television interviews. THAT'S a definite violation. Why was Wilson never interviewed to find out if he outed his wife?

- New York Times columnist Cliff May told the FBI that he heard from several non-government employees that Plame worked for the CIA. Some covert identity, huh?

- Valarie Plame herself was never subpoenaed. Why? This whole episode focused around her, so why was she never interviewed?

- The first journalist to reveal that Plame was "covert" was David Corn in July 2003, two days after Novak's column. Corn claimed that Novak "outed" Plame as a covert officer. Why was Corn never subpoenaed?

Fitzgerald had a moral obligation to look at ALL facts but chose, instead, to pick and choose what he wanted for a conviction. Bush did the right thing because Fitzgerald ruined the investigation from the beginning. Libby was the target of a political witch hunt, nothing more.

This "contempt for the law" that liberals continually assert forgets that Libby is an American citizen with rights. Rights don't end with your political affiliation.

Anonymous said...

It is the responsibility of the court to filter information to the jury. That is why juries are commanded never to research information or talk amongst themselves about the specific case. Fitzgerald had an obligation to disclose all relevant information. If the jury never heard this additional testimony, it is understandable why they convicted Libby. Take the Duke rape case, for example. Nifong intentionally kept information from the defense, a violation of legal ethics.

Personally, Fitzgerald should be disbarred for such stupidity but it is unlikely to happen.

Kingfisher said...

Sorry, the last post was from me. Forgot to add my name.

Kingfisher said...

There are several other facts you must have forgotten:

1) The president of the United States has the full authority to disclose secret CIA information to reporters. Whether you like it or not, that's a fact. So Bush would rather go to jail than to authorize something within his right?

2) Joshua Gerstein wrote in "The New York Sun" that Fitzgerald didn't suggest that either Bush or Cheney violated any laws. Fitzgerald even admitted that releasing the information would have been well in his authority to do so.

3) Both Wilsons are partisan antiwar Democrats. Wilson worked for Kerry's presidential campaign and both donated heavily to Democrats.

4) Wilson lied about denying that his wife recommended him for the trip. Wilson lies so much that he makes Clinton look like a boy scout.

5) It's funny how the left demands that Libby be put away for outing a so-called "covert" operative but not Armitage nor Wilson. "Rule of law?" You people obviously have no understanding what that means.

I hope the left continues to bring this up. This will only explode back at them and it will be really fun to watch! Please, keep it up!

Huck said...

kingfisher - I think we are talking past each other. If you are claiming prosecutorial misconduct, then that's fine and should be grounds for a successful appeal, which might actually be what takes place. But what Bush did was to intervene via the use of the Presidential Pardon into the judicial process that produced the result that it did. Let's assume that everything you say is true, and that Fitzgerald is a sham of a prosecutor, it still does not take away from the fact that Libby was convicted of perjury by a jury of his peers. And Bush commuted Libby's sentence even before the appeals process had the chance to run its course. Maybe you think it's morally justified, but there are a lot of people who lose trials because of prosecutorial misconduct or poor legal representation and have to face the consequences of this. Bush is taking this one case, and you are defending his doing so, and arguing that he gets to be the arbiter of what constitutes a fair trial and a just outcome. This kind of behavior just isn't going to sit well with anyone who thinks they, or someone they know, are maligned by the criminal justice system but are told that they have no other recourse than to work out their complaints and seek redresses through this system. I know you feel the need to spin this away, but it's just not going to play the way you want it to among the majority of the population.

Kingfisher said...

Huck, I fully support Bush's decision:

1) The president has the full authority to pardon anyone. Period, that's it. This is part of the system "running its course." The Constitution gives the president full authority to pardon people. Accept it.

2) The judge for the case demanded that Libby be sent to jail even before the appeals process has run its course. This is highly unusual.

3) The jury convicted Libby based upon the facts that they had. Libby was prosecuted on information that was totally bogus.

4) You're right that other people lose cases based upon misconduct so does that mean it's acceptable? You're defending an immoral prosecutor just so that Bush, or someone in his cabinet, can go to jail. I have produced information that cast doubts into the trial and you throw it all away. So you would prefer innocent people going to jail for crimes they didn't commit? What about Armitage? What about Wilson and Plame? Why aren't you outraged over the fact that they're free? Where's your rant of "equal justice" to those people if Plame was really covert? You're picking and choosing who should go to jail and that's unethical.

You can claim that I'm spinning this but I will win in the end. Your refusal to look at the facts I have provided shows that this was a witch hunt. That's for sure.

Kingfisher said...

Huck, there are even still more facts that you're missing:

1) The jury took 10 days to reach a decision which means that the case wasn't so cut-and-dry. The evidence based upon a "he said he said" series of testimonies, mainly from Tim Russert and Libby himself.

2) One of the jurors, Denis Collins is a former Washington Post reporter who complained about Karl Rove not being charged in the case. This was reported on "Drudge." This alone should have dismissed the entire trial, or do you prefer partial jurors? Collins was also an old neighbor of Russert and wrote a book on the CIA. That alone should have dismissed Collins, so why did he serve? Even after the case, Collins admitted that Rove should be pardoned.

3) As mentioned before, Russert testified in the case. If Russert had any ethics, he wouldn't have discussed the matter on "Meet the Press," yet did so anyway violating journalism ethics. Libby, following court rules, did not discuss the case.

4) Andrea Mitchell, NBC correspondent stated that Plame's CIA affiliation was widely known among reporters, but later claimed she had misspoken and was confused. So, Libby should go to jail for memory lapses but not Mitchell or Russert?

Huck said...

kingfisher - I'm not defending anybody. The only thing I am defending is the process, which Bush overrode with his veto. Also, I accept that Bush has every right -- in fact, a specifically designated Constitutional right -- to pardon anyone or commute the sentence for anyone for any reason at any time. I don't dispute that. That doesn't mean that I have to accept that Bush was right to use this power, anymore than you don't have to accept that Clinton was right to pardon Marc Rich.

Your basic argument is that because Bush didn't like the result of the process in this one particular case, he is right to override the process.

You can throw out all the details you want to try to show how the Libby conviction was a travesty of justice. But we have a process by which such travesties are addressed. Bush bypassed this process and put his opinion of this particular case actually above the process when he commuted Libby's sentence. He has every right to do so; but his action weakens and damages the rule of law. His action politicizes the administration of justice and covers it with what appears to be a veneer of personal favoratism. What's to prevent any future Democratic President from pardoning his cronies now? Bush certainly can do as he did. No question. But there are and will be consequences in the court of public opinion for Bush's legacy and for the GOP he leads because of it.

Don_cos said...

"Democratic President from pardoning his cronies now?"

There is nothing stopping a Democrat President from pardoning his/her cronies. Just ask Bill clinton.

Huck said...

There is nothing stopping a Democrat President from pardoning his/her cronies. Just ask Bill clinton.

Agreed. But don't you find this a cynical way to think of the Presidential Pardon power? I will say the same for Clinton: just because he has the right to pardon doesn't make it right for him to use the pardon. There is a fine line between using and abusing the Presidential Pardon as it affects respect for the Rule of Law. Any President can abuse this power and weaken the Rule of Law. In my opinion, Bush's pardon of Libby borders on a cynical abuse of the power; and I do think the general public will see this for a kind of politically-motivated favoritism for a crony than a really sincere last-resort effort to rectify an injustice perpetrated by a system of justice that failed.

Kingfisher said...


You're contradicting yourself. First, you admit that Bush has the Constitutional right to pardon then accuse him of bypassing the standard judicial process. If Bush has the Constitutional authority then he isn't bypassing anything!

Don't forget Libby isn't out of the doghouse yet. Bush didn't pardon Libby, just commute (sp?) him. Libby still has to pay the fine and still runs the risk of being a felon for the rest of his life.

Clinton obviously didn't suffer because of his pardons, otherwise Hillary would have never run. Clinton is still a favorite among many on the left. For you to say that Bush's action will hurt him, you must admit that the right respects the judicial process far more than the left.

Bush will never gain favor of the left so the "court of public opinion" is pointless as far as the left is concern. The left hates Bush and there is nothing that he can do to restore that. As for the right, many on the right agree with Bush's position on Libby so your argument is severely flawed.

Here's one quick question for you. If pardons hurt presidents then why didn't all of Clinton's last minute pardons hurt him or Hillary, hmm?

Kingfisher said...


One final comment on this.

Your argument is severely flawed for another reason. Bush cannot run for a third term so polls are useless for him. Unless he's impeached (extremely unlikely) Bush will finish his term. Bush can have a 1% approval rating and that won't stop him from finishing his term.

You rely too much on opinion polls. Besides, Bush doesn't care what the left thinks of him because Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) has infected the left and more on the right support his decision on Libby.

If you respect opinion polls, I would worry more about Congress--their polls are worse than Bush. At least Bush has the guts to do something controversial. The Dems are still congratulating themselves over their non-binding resolution on Iraq. Oooh, that really had some teeth in it! (/sarc)