Libby Gets Indicted

Recently, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, resigned as Chief of Staff for Vice-President Dick Cheney after being indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice.  The indictment stems from an investigation surrounding the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA employee. Valerie Plame is the wife of Joseph Wilson, critic of the Bush Administration. Joseph Wilson asserts that the revelation of his wife’s employment was retaliation for his debunking of the claim in the President’s State of the Union address that “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

There are a couple of critical problems with Wilson’s argument.  The first is that the President’s words are absolutely true and to this day, the British government stands by the intelligence assessment the President cited. Second, Wilson’s oral brief to the CIA upon returning from his short trip to Niger reported that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium yellowcake from Niger, though Niger declined Iraq’s overtures. The CIA believed Wilson’s report substantiated suspicions about Iraqi intentions. Third, Wilson self-aggrandizingly told the press that his report had debunked forgeries about Niger uranium sales. These papers had turned up in Italy. The timing for this claim of Wilson does not tally. The US did not come into possession of those forgeries until months after Wilson’s trip and report. This timeline can be found in the 9/11 Commission Report.

In 2003, Wilson was polluting political waters with inaccurate information and the Administration was clearly trying to deal with Wilson’s charges. Wilson claimed that he was sent to Niger on behalf of the Vice-President. The natural question was why Wilson. He was a critic of the Administration and a Gore supporter. He was not qualified in proliferation matters. Why would the Vice-President send him?  He didn’t. In the course of refuting Wilson, presumably Scooter Libby and perhaps others said the Wilson’s wife, an employee of the CIA, was responsible for the trip.  This was repeatedly denied by Wilson, whose pride as a former ambassador may have been wounded by the need for nepotism.  The 9/11 Commission unequivocally concluded that Ms. Plame recommended Wilson for the trip.

There was concern in 2003 that perhaps the identity of a CIA employee at been illegally compromised, but that particular charge seems not to have borne scrutiny. Libby, if he is found guilty, committed the crime obstructing an investigation premised on crime for which there is no prosecution.

If Libby did perjure himself or obstruct justice, then he should be appropriately punished.  Conservatives and Republicans should not be lured into the Clinton defense that perjury and obstruction of justice do not count if the underlying crime seems incommensurate with the penalties for perjury or obstruction of justice. For the answer as to Libby’s guilt we will have to await the results of a trial or plea bargain.

It should also be remembered that at this point, there only seems to be the prosecution of a person with regard to an issue orthogonal to lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Left continues to push the narrative that Bush lied about WMD to get the US into Iraq. For that to be true, President Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the French, and the Germans would have to abetted in the lie, an unlikely alliance. The 9/11 Commission Report concluded as much, yet the Left still persists in its mendacity.

The Left had hoped that the Libby scandal would allow one more opportunity to peddle their deliberately misleading narrative about the origins of the war. Now it seems that the investigation has narrowed. The prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has said as much:

“This indictment is not about the war. This indictment’s not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel.”

The Left does not really care about Scooter Libby or Valerie Plame. It only cares about undermining Bush.  Who knows? The may succeed one day.  But it hasn’t happened yet and the frustration will likely to increase the vitriol around the Libby case.

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