I feel there’s some need for clarification. I have nothing but the highest regard for my friend Andy McCarthy, and his insight is both unique and always intelligent. Perhaps I appear as a special pleader for Lewis Libby. I am not. I don’t know the man, and have never met him. But I do think we benefit from a good exchange on the facts and law, and not simply accept a prosecutor’s allegations at face value. That’s not how the legal system works. That’s how litigation works. So, a one-side analysis is not a realistic analysis. It’s not my intention to be one-sided, but to contribute to the excellent points Andy and others have and are making.
Obstruction in its various forms (perjury, false statements, etc.) is, of course, very serious. But at the present stage in Libby’s case are charges not fact. If the charges are found to be true by a trial jury (assuming no plea agreement), then Libby, like anyone else, has committed very serious federal crimes. No one should downplay this, and I don’t think most people are. But that’s not to say Libby has committed criminal acts that have endangered the national security of this country. And this is where I found Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference over-the-top. I have now read through the transcript of his press conference, and come away even more troubled. I believe the impression he hoped to leave with the American people, most of whom won’t bother to read the actual recitation of facts and actual charges in the indictment, is that Libby endangered his own country.
On another point, some are struggling with arguments that seek to draw parallels between Clinton and Libby respecting perjury. It is not my intention to dismiss all such analogies, but to point out at least one significant fact which, in our desire to be consistent should not be overlooked. Bill Clinton was actually held in contempt by Judge Susan Webber Wright. She made an actual finding that Clinton made “intentionally false statements” on several occasions during his sworn deposition testimony. As the judge noted in her ruling, Clinton had a right to a hearing to challenge her decision, in which he could provide testimony and evidence in his defense. Clinton chose not to. In other words, he accepted Judge Wright’s finding without challenge. As a result, his law license was susupended for five years, he was forced to resign from the Supreme Court Bar, and he paid fines. In Libby’s case, he is accused of prejury, false statements and obstruction. He has yet to defend. So, while the seriousness of the charges are not to be downplayed, they are merely charges and, at this point, nothing more. Some argue they are strong charges. They may well be. But we’ve yet to hear from Libby and his lawyers.
And, of course, this is all a far cry from Joe Wilson’s allegation that Karl Rove outed his wife, a purported CIA covert agent, which is how all this began. In the end, we will learn that Rove was not Bob Novak’s source, Plame was not covert, and Joe Wilson remains a liar.