The Scoop Behind the Sccoter Libby Non-Pardon

Marcy Wheeler at Empty Wheel dissects the article in Time Magazine about the waning days of Bush and Cheney, as it relates to the Scooter Libby non-pardon. Cheney pleaded and cajoled for his buddy, Bush didn't want to give him any more breaks than the sentence commutation he had already ordered.

But the fight over the pardon was also a prelude to the difficult questions about justice and national security inherited by the Obama Administration: How closely should the nation examine the actions of government officials who took steps — legal or possibly illegal — to defend the nation's security during the war on terrorism? The Libby investigation, which began nearly six years ago, went to the heart of whether the Bush Administration misled the public in making its case to invade Iraq. But other Bush-era policies are still coming under legal scrutiny. [More...]

Who, for example, should be held accountable in one of the darkest corners of the war on terrorism — the interrogators who may have tortured detainees? Or the men who conceived and crafted the policies that led to those secret sessions in the first place? How far back — and how high up the chain of command — should these inquiries go?

Marcy breaks the long article down and says the shorter version is:

The short version, though, is that the White House prevented Libby from speaking to Bush directly about this case, all the while telling a narrative that the question of pardon pertained narrowly to whether Libby lied about his conversation with Russert and not the larger questions implicating both Cheney and Bush. After Libby appealed his case through Fielding indirectly to Bush, Bush consulted with his defense attorney. And the two of them--Bush and his defense attorney--apparently made the final decision not to pardon Libby just two days before Bush left office.

Marcy tells you whats left out of this over-simplified account. After being turned down for the pardon,

In response, Libby asked for his own audience with the President. Bolten refused, denying Libby the opportunity to make his case directly (presumably in private?) with Bush. But Bolten did set up a meeting with Libby and the two lawyers who had to have known how this implicated the President. Presumably in response to Fielding's report of that meeting, Bush met with his defense attorney, and asked him whether he thought he should pardon Libby. And between the two of them--Bush and his defense attorney--they decided to deny Libby's last ditch request for a pardon.

The result, according to Marcy:

Time's nicely spun story sort of distracts from the both the underlying knowledge several key players had as well as the seeming progression from the denial of Cheney's request, followed by Libby's request, followed by a hurried consultation with Bush's defense attorney. But those are, almost certainly, the most important facts in this tale.

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  • Display: Sort:
    This is the second story in two days (none / 0) (#1)
    by magster on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 12:35:53 AM EST
    where we read about Bush standing up to Cheney.  Cheney is a bad man.

    A very bad man (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jerry on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 04:00:42 AM EST
    I'd turn him into a jack-in-the-box if I could.

    George W. with him.


    Great Twilight Zone (none / 0) (#11)
    by daring grace on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 05:36:52 PM EST
    /Bill Mumy (Anthony) reference.

    A worse man. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Fabian on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 04:01:50 AM EST
    Bush was no icon of morality or justice.  Cheney is simply worse.

    To be fair, the last eight years would have been a bit different if Cheney hadn't been VP, but it still would have been the intellectually challenged Bush in the White House.  The buck stops there.


    SPAM (none / 0) (#5)
    by pukemoana on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 08:14:37 AM EST
    Truman (none / 0) (#6)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:39:54 AM EST
    I agree with Truman's comment that the "buck stops here". Whatever was done by the Bush administration, GWB is responsible.

    On the other hand (none / 0) (#9)
    by KoolJeffrey on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 01:40:17 PM EST
    If it were a positive outcome, Bush would have been more than happy to take responsibility for it.

    The only salient fact (none / 0) (#7)
    by Repack Rider on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:22:41 AM EST
    Seems to me is that without the pardon, Scooter's Fifth Amendment rights are still in place, so he can't be compelled to testify about these activities.  This is the kind of thing Bush's personal attorney might have reminded him of.

    It's not like Bush was ever restrained by any other aspect of morality, tradition or the Constitution to keep from handing out White House goodies.

    Question raised by Time article (none / 0) (#8)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 12:56:05 PM EST
    shows significant bias in the framing:

    As quoted above, the Time article stated:

    "How closely should the nation examine the actions of government officials who took steps -- legal or possibly illegal -- to defend the nation's security during the war on terrorism?"

    What did the outing of Valerie Plame have to do with defending the nation's security?  In fact, her outing jeopardized her work on behalf of national security, & the security of the nation along with it.  Most of the illegal actions or actions of highly questionable legality undertaken in the name of our defense served just the opposite purpose.  That the structures behind these actions and the arguments that support them are still in place is alarming.  

    The framing by Time of the question also obscures, to me, an important civics issue for all of us.  Legal actions undertaken in good faith in the national defense are one thing, while illegal actions taken in good or bad faith in the name of national defense are entirely different.  Or, has the rule of law entirely lost its meaning?

    Richard Armitage of the DOS outed (none / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 02:02:36 PM EST
    Plame as working for the CIA. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction.


    Whether or not Plame was actually a "secret agent" remains an open question as it has not been proven that she had an overseas assignment for 5 years.

    The amusing thing about this is that Wilson agreed with the conclusion that Iraq had tried to purchase yellow cake and told the CIA upon his return.

    The CIA's DO gave the former ambassador's information a grade of "good," which means that it added to the IC's body of understanding on the issue, (                    ). The possible grades are unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good, excellent, and outstanding, which, according to the Deputy Chief of CPD, are very subjective.                      SENTENCE DELETED                      The reports officer said that a "good" grade was merited because the information responded to at least some of the outstanding questions in the Intelligence Community, but did not provide substantial new information. He said he judged that the most important fact in the report was that the Nigerien officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerien Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium, because this provided some confirmation of foreign government service reporting.

    To be fair Wilson later decided that he had not said what the de briefer said he said, although a close reading of his disputed points have nothing to do with the claim that Iraq attempted to purchase, which is what Bush said. Instead he rambles on about the fact no way could Iraq have purchased.... Said point, of course, was never in play.

    Senate Intell Commt Report


    I'm curious (none / 0) (#13)
    by Edger on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 07:50:05 AM EST
    Why are spammers such idiots?