Jules Crittendon has a piece up on the Scooter Libby case that is quite insightful, but he misses one final element of snark. Since I like the guy, I’ll help him out.
There was no actual crime at the core of the investigation. No one has been charged with actually violating the laws in regards to the revealing of Valerie Plame’s CIA employment. As I have quoted several times, Libby was convicted of “lying about telling the truth about a liar.” I think that Fitzpatrick should have ended his investigation once he established who leaked Plame’s identity, and then decided that that person (Richard Armitage) would not face charges.
Some have called Libby’s prosecution a “perjury trap,” where he was repeatedly interviewed over the same matter in the hopes that he would contradict himself — and he apparently did. Now, some folks are arguing to set a “pardon trap,” where Bush would implicate himself in the affair by pardoning Libby (or, as some have suggested instead, commute the prison portion of Libby’s sentence, leaving the conviction and other penalties intact).
Again, there was no underlying crime in the Plame outing, as witnessed by Armitage’s non-prosecution. And there is no potential crime in Bush’s possible use of his powers of pardon and commutation in the Libby case. The president’s powers in this area are absolute, and if Bill Clinton can pardon his own brother, then Bush is pretty much free to do what he wishes.
Personally, I’d like to see Libby’s prison sentence commuted. His conviction, to me, smacks of the criminalization of politics, and I don’t believe his actions rose to the level of justifying prison time. But perjury is perjury (Bill Clinton notwithstanding), and a jury found him guilty. Hefty fines, disbarment, and loss of franchise seem sufficient, considering that — to repeat myself — there was no underlying crime behind the investigation.
Besides, a Libby pardon/commutation will royally piss off a lot of people I don’t like, and angry people tend to do stupid things. The response of the Nutroots alone will be worth weeks of entertainment.