Libby verdict lets more senior offenders off the hook

To the Daily:
In a column last month, Daily columnist John Stiglich assailed Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the American public in his blathering critique of the American legal system (Law and Order, 02/14/07). He wrote, “The Scooter Libby case held even greater promise for liberal America when it was first being investigated by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald . Fitzgerald realized that (Joe) Wilson was not protected by federal statute as a CIA analyst, but he couldn’t end a three-year investigation without indicting anyone, so he indicted Libby over a he-said, she-said squabble with ‘Meet the Press’ moderator Tim Russert.” Instead of an accurate critique of Fitzgerald’s methods, the column was an irresponsible, sophomoric political punch that ignored the facts of the Libby case, and much worse, the motivations for and consequences of his crimes.

Libby’s perjurious testimony is representative of the arrogance and deception that has long characterized the Bush administration. We have all witnessed the tragic cost of the manipulation of intelligence leading to the war in Iraq – the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, $400 billion and the loss of American moral leadership. But beyond the unmitigated disaster he helped create in Iraq, Libby’s lies symbolize the zealotry of the Bush administration and its insatiable demand for executive power.

When Joe Wilson, a diplomat praised for standing up to Saddam Hussein in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, wrote his op-ed in The New York Times criticizing administration claims relating to Niger, the White House resorted to a criminal smear campaign to prevent its knowingly falsified information on Iraq from becoming further debunked. The willingness of Vice President Cheney to leak both the name of a covert CIA operative and the contents of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate in response to Wilson’s op-ed piece lends insight into the ruthless tactics of the Bush White House.

The administration’s insistence on silencing its political opponents has created a lethal combination of executive abuses at home and unilateralism abroad. Dispatching Scooter Libby to discredit Joe Wilson through unlawful means is but one piece of a larger pattern of power grabs, which includes presidential signing statements designed to ignore the will of Congress, illegal detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and unconstitutional telephone surveillance.

In each of these examples, the administration has been rebuked and forced to change course by Congress, the American people or courts. The White House was rebuked again when the jury delivered a guilty verdict against Libby. Contrary to Stiglich’s claim, the unfortunate aspect of the Libby trial is not that his name will be tarnished – it is that the trial masks the criminality of more senior members of the Bush administration, namely Cheney and Karl Rove.

Hopefully history will judge Libby in a similar vein as Albert B. Fall, former President Warren Harding’s corrupt secretary of the interior during the Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s – a symbol of a dishonest and disgraced White House.

Robert Lupton
LSA senior

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