Thursday, January 8, 2009

Profoundly Unpatriotic - from 07/14/07

When future generations look back on the 2000 Presidential Election, they will see George W. Bush’s platform of restoring honor and integrity to the Oval Office as the great irony of our time.

It has been almost two weeks now since Bush has commuted the sentence of one Scooter Libby.

For those of you just joining us, Libby was convicted of lying to a grand jury and obstruction of justice. He helped assure that Special Council Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leaking of the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame went nowhere.

The granting of commutations and pardons are the prerogative of the President, so what exactly makes this particular act of this particular president so revolting? More importantly, why did he do it?

Is it possible that the explanation was as simple as he said it was?

Did he commute the sentence just because it was excessive?

Considering the fact that we are talking about a man who prides himself on being tough on crime, who advocates harsher sentencing and presided over 152 executions as the governor of Texas, I would say no.

George W. Bush does not believe in mercy. Period.

The idea that he would consider 30 months to be too harsh a sentence for lying to a grand jury and obstructing a federal investigation is laughable.

Am I going so far as to say that Bush was lying when he gave us this explanation for his actions?

Absolutely. You are goddamn right.

So, there must be some other reason why he would do this.

Many feel that Libby was a scapegoat for what was, at its heart, a witch hunt.

Some claim that, from the beginning, this has been an overzealous investigation relentlessly pursuing an imaginary crime brought on by those who wish to undermine this administration.

When it comes to Libby’s guilt regarding the charges he was convicted on, the motivation for the initial investigation is irrelevant.

Remember Clinton’s impeachment?

Every time one of us lefties would complain that the President’s sex life was nobody’s business but his own, we were told that the Oval Office hummers were no longer the issue.
Once the President lied under oath, it was a whole other ballgame.

So why apply a different standard to Libby?

Once he lied to a grand jury and impeded a federal investigation, was not the validity of that initial investigation a moot point? Apparently not.

One argument is that since nobody was charged with the crime being investigated that there was no underlying crime.

The flaw in this logic is maddening. The lack of charges being filed is not vindication.

It just means that Libby’s obstruction of justice was, in fact, a success and extends that obstruction.

He assured that the right people were shielded from prosecution and he was duly rewarded.

Now, to the crime that started it all.

It has been asserted that there was no crime to investigate in the first place because Valerie Plame was not covert.

This claim is not an exaggeration, nor is it a distortion of the truth, nor is it spin.

It is simply a lie.

I did not hear anybody say any such thing until Judith Miller said the names Libby, Armitage and Rove.

Up until then, Rove was saying that he had never heard of Valerie Plame and Bush was promising us that if the leak originated from inside his administration, whoever was responsible would be fired.

You do not promise the American people to fire the guilty party if there is no underlying crime.

The CIA would never have asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into the leaking of the identity of an analyst.

If this whole thing had been started by Congressional Democrats, you might be able to argue that this is a political vendetta, but we are talking about the CIA.

Not only was Plame a covert agent, maintaining two identities; she was the operations officer in charge of counter proliferation.

Not only was one our spies outed, an operation to prevent terrorists from obtaining nuclear weapons was compromised.

We will most likely never know to what extent Plame’s outing had on the CIA’s counter proliferation efforts. What happened to her overseas contacts? Were other agents affiliated with her exposed?

This had to have been a significant setback. We were all put in danger so that Joe Wilson could be punished for informing us that Iraq was in fact, not trying to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger.

So first, Bush has progressed from promising to fire anyone involved in this leak.

Then, he claimed that he was unwilling to comment on an ongoing investigation.

And now, he has taken it upon himself to undermine the investigation.

The only hope that Fitzgerald had of squeezing something meaningful out of this mess was to try and use Libby’s impending jail time as leverage to compel him to finally tell the truth.

And now, Bush has cleanly and effectively taken away the only tool that prosecutors had left.

With this commutation, Bush has seen to it that Libby has no reason at all to cooperate with prosecutors.

Was this the plan from the beginning? Was Libby told at some point to just keep his mouth shut and he would never have to worry about prison?

We will never know, but I think that it is likely.

In a time when we see so many yellow ribbons and are reminded, and rightly so, that we should ‘support our troops,’ this whole mess takes on another meaning.

We have been told that we are fighting a new kind of war against a different kind of enemy.

It will be fought on many fronts.

One of these fronts, perhaps the most vital, is intelligence gathering. So in this war, like none other before it, spies are troops.

So congratulations, Mr. Bush. You have passed the likes of Pierce, Johnson and Hoover to become the single worst president this Republic has ever seen.

Not only are you entirely devoid of integrity or any sense of morality, you have shown a blatant disregard for both the security of our country and for the well being of the men and women who dedicate their lives to keeping us from harm.

You are more than unseemly, smug, arrogant or immoral.

You are profoundly unpatriotic.


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