It would appear that President Bush has lied once again, this time with respect to the Scooter Libby case. You’ll recall that Bush repeatedly said that he would not interfere with the case until the appeals were decided. Of course, at the time he was saying this, he assumed that by the time the appeals were over, the November 2008 elections would be over as well. In that way, Bush could mislead people into thinking that he was doing the right thing–until after the November 2008 elections, when it would be too late for voters to punish the Republicans at the polls.
What Bush (and undoubtedly Vice President Cheney) had not counted on was the judiciary’s power to order Libby’s incarceration during the pendency of the appeals. District judges have the power to do this if they find that the chances of prevailing on appeal are slim. That was what the judge in the Libby case found, and his finding was upheld on appeal.
Thus, Bush’s obvious plan was foiled. He knew that if he fulfilled his word not to interfere with the case until all the appeals were heard, that would mean that Libby would be going to jail during the appeal. That would mean that an angry and disgruntled Libby might be willing to cooperate with the prosecutor by disclosing all the facts and circumstances leading up to his perjury conviction, would might well have meant criminal exposure for others in the administration, including Cheney and Bush themselves. By breaking his word and commuting Libby’s sentence, Bush’s lie was exposed, but at least the commutation presumably kept Libby pleased and contented–and most likely silent.
We should never forget the underlying reason that Cheney, Bush, Libby, and others were so intent on exposing Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame’s employment at the CIA–to punish Wilson for disclosing the truth about the bogus WMD-Niger claim on which Bush and Cheney were relying to justify their invasion of Iraq and to send the message to everyone else: This is what happens to people who betray us by telling the truth and exposing our lies about what we are doing to induce people to support our invasion and occupation of a country that never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the process.
JACOB HORNBERGER is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.