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They *Heart* Scooter Libby
Frank Rich writes in The New York Time$ of the all the people compelled to come out of the woodwork for Scooter Libby -- including a contributing writer to New York Times Magazine and "self-identified" liberals and Democrats like James Carville. Carville, Rich says, co-signed the letter from wife Mary Matalin; in Rich's words, "tediously detailing Libby's devotion to organizing trick-or-treat festivities for administration children spending a post-9/11 Halloween at an 'undisclosed location.'" Hmmm, would Mary close the bedroom for business if he didn't sign off on how great ole Scooter was for the kiddies -- as a reason for pardoning him?

One correspondent writes in astonishment that Libby once helped "a neighbor who is a staunch Democrat" dig his car out of the snow, and another is in awe that Libby would "personally buy his son a gift rather than passing the task on to his wife." Many praise Libby's novel, "The Apprentice," apparently on the principle that an overwritten slab of published fiction might legitimize the short stories he fabricated freelance for a grand jury.

But what makes these letters rise above inanity is the portrait they provide of a wartime capital cut adrift from moral bearings. As the political the historian Rick Perlstein has written, one of the recurrent themes of these pleas for mercy is that Libby perjured himself "only because he was so busy protecting us from Armageddon." Has there ever been a government leader convicted of a crime - and I don't mean only Americans - who didn't see himself as saving the world from the enemy?

The Libby supporters never acknowledge the undisputed fact that their hero, a lawyer by profession, leaked classified information about a covert CIA officer. And that he did so not accidentally but to try to silence an administration critic who called attention to the White House's prewar lies about WMD intelligence.

...What is more striking about the Libby love letters is how nearly all of them ignore the reality that the crime of lying under oath is at the heart of the case. That issue simply isn't on these letter writers' radar screen; the criminal act of perjury isn't addressed (unless it's ascribed to memory loss because Libby was so darn busy saving the world).

Given that Libby expressed no contrition in court after being convicted, you'd think some of his defenders might step into that moral vacuum to speak for him. But there's been so much lying surrounding this war from the start that everyone is inured to it by now. In Washington, lying no longer registers as an offense against the rule of law.

Instead the letter writers repeat tirelessly that Libby is a victim, suffering "permanent damage" to his reputation, family and career in the typical judgment of Kenneth Adelman, the foreign-policy thinker who predicted a "cakewalk" for America in Iraq. There's a whole lot of projection going on, because to judge from these letters, those who drummed up this war think of themselves as victims too.

In his letter, the disgraced Paul Wolfowitz sees his friend's case as an excuse to deflect his own culpability for the fiasco. He writes that "during the spring and summer of 2003, when some others were envisioning a prolonged American occupation," Libby "was a strong advocate for a more rapid build-up of the Iraqi army and a more rapid transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, points on which history will prove him to have been prescient."

History will prove no such thing; a "rapid" buildup of the Iraqi army was and is a mirage, and the neocons' chosen leader for an instant sovereign Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi, had no political following. But Wolfowitz's real point is to pin his own catastrophic blundering on L. Paul Bremer, the neocons' chosen scapegoat for a policy that was doomed with or without Bremer's incompetent execution of the American occupation.

Of all the Libby worshipers, the one most mocked in the blogosphere and beyond is Fouad Ajami, the Lebanese-American academic and war proponent who fantasized that a liberated Iraq would have a (positive) "contagion effect" on the region and that Americans would be greeted "in Baghdad and Basra with kites and boom boxes." (I guess it all depends on your definition of "boom boxes.") In an open letter to Bush for The Wall Street Journal op-ed page on June 8, he embroidered his initial letter to Walton, likening Libby to a "fallen soldier" in the Iraq war. In Ajami's view, Tim Russert (whose testimony contradicted Libby's) and the American system of justice are untrustworthy, and "the 'covertness' of Mrs. Wilson was never convincingly and fully established." (The CIA confirmed her covert status in court documents filed in May.)

The Scooter Libby Love Letters can be found here, on The Smoking Gun.

Posted by aalkon at June 17, 2007 11:50 AM

Comments

Y'know, even if Bush pardoned Libby tomorrow --and I mean Monday-- this still wouldn't be that interesting.

> the undisputed fact that
> their hero

Has any human being ever referred to Scooter as heroic? Hero is a hideous word, and I already regret using it to describe Lomborg a few days ago. The Frank Rich's of the world are too eager to assign that status to third parties for us whenever it suits a momentary interest. Perhaps Rich actually has heroes, people who he's willing to support no matter what. The rest of us can calibrate admiration more thoughtfully.

> a lawyer by profession,
> leaked classified information
> about a covert CIA officer.

Didja see that? In one sentence he went from being loose and figurative to niggling and literal. There's no reason to believe that Plame was anything but a silly, overpaid functionary mildly abusing her government privileges for the aggrandizement of her husband. To imply that this was a game-changing violation of our proud traditions of secret agency is just hokey. This is another chapter of the carping about WMDs which seems to have cost Kerry the 2004 race... Rich (and Dems generally) are sitting in the middle of the living room spanking their hands on their knees as they hold their breath to turn blue... Because this is true true true! It's a metaphysical certainty! Libby "leaked classified information" and you can't say he didn't! You can't you can't!

Well, you could... If you cared about it at all, and sane people don't. It was a probably typical and certainly incidental execution of DC gamesmanship.

Let Rich & Dowd and company pout all they want; the continuing collapse of the Gray Lady as a commercial enterprise is of no concern in a world with so many sources of information and opinion. But it's time for the Democratic party to pull it's rhetorical center out of Manhattan, or they'll certainly lose the White House in 2008 without a respectable fight. This would be tragic for the Republic. Were any lessons learned in 2004, or was it all RoveRoveRove?

Posted by: Crid at June 17, 2007 9:04 AM

Crid writes:

There's no reason to believe that Plame was anything but a silly, overpaid functionary mildly abusing her government privileges for the aggrandizement of her husband.

There's also no reason to believe that she is that. And Crid's credibility issues don't prompt me to even examine the possibility. If anything, it puts doubt on that possibility.

She is a CIA undercover agent, regardless of how anyone thinks she performs in that capacity. Has she been pinkslipped? Resigned? Or dispossessed of her job title in some other way? No? Then it's a crime to disclose her status as such. There's no "Yes, but she's really just a 'silly, overpaid functionary,' so it's all right" clause. (I'm surprised he didn't call her a "petulant teenager.")

As for Crid's scenario of how Democrats act over this issue in the privacy of their own homes, well, at least there's an adherance to the letter of the law operating, rather than Crid's eternal eyeroll, insisting that since Plame wasn't really Crid's definition of a covert CIA official, those of us who support Libby's conviction are just acting like "petulant teenagers."

Is it a crime? Yes. Was the motive to retaliate against Plame's husband, for openly discussing some nasty untruths about the war, instead of blustering Bush's actions as right, legal, ethical and worthy of the highest praise like a good little goosestepper? Yes.

It's that simple. Really. Honest.

Posted by: Patrick at June 17, 2007 10:28 AM

It was about putting a chill on anything but rubberstamping of administration policy. No matter what kind of crap it's based on.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 17, 2007 10:40 AM

Frank Rich writes:

One correspondent writes in astonishment that Libby once helped "a neighbor who is a staunch Democrat" dig his car out of the snow, and another is in awe that Libby would "personally buy his son a gift rather than passing the task on to his wife."

And of course, any normal person would just tell his neighbor to "dig it out yourself, Liberal!" or his wife to "go pick out something for the kid, ball and chain."

Somehow, it's become saintworthy behavior to simply avoid doing things that make you look conspicuously like an asshole. These aren't instances of noble behavior. They are simply instances of doing what any normal would do, if for no other reason, to not have the appearance of looking like a world-class prick.

Posted by: Patrick at June 17, 2007 11:53 AM

> eternal eyeroll

Babe, you've named my new blog! This shit never gets old.

> It's that simple.
> Really. Honest.

Keep talking that way... It gives Mike Duncan wood.

Posted by: Crid at June 17, 2007 1:37 PM

Crid writes:

> eternal eyeroll

Babe, you've named my new blog! This shit never gets old.

Really? Neat. I'll look for it! Am I getting credit for this idea?

Posted by: Patrick at June 17, 2007 2:11 PM

Y'know, even if Bush pardoned Libby tomorrow --and I mean Monday-- this still wouldn't be that interesting.

Still, I (or you) gotta wonder about a government/administration that uncovers its own spy network.
There is an interesting piece in TIME:

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1633265,00.html

"January's attack on U.S. forces at the Iraqi government complex in Karbala has become a kind of epic unsolved mystery among troops...The investigation report adds that one senior Iraqi Police official even seemed happy after the attack as he talked into a cell phone and walked among the wreckage of the aftermath laughing."

Posted by: The Mad Hungarian at June 17, 2007 4:28 PM

> gotta wonder about a
> government/administration
> that uncovers its own
> spy network.


We would if the agent (and agency) in question wasn't demonstrably ineffective anyway; if said agent had been moving in the direction the administration had hoped for, rather than sending the husband(!) on deceitful, vacation-like, tea-sipping missions of inquiry, presumably at taxpayer expense (and then risking his wife's precious "cover" by writing editorials in the New York Goddamn Times); if the "uncovered spy" was in any sense benefitting from the cover (was she not at home caring for her twin toddlers? No one's ever said); and on it goes. Listen, if Plame was a fundamental player in our "spy network", the network is useless. If the agency is unresponsive to the administration, it's useless. It's just fucking useless, and it should be dissolved. There are much better things for us to do with the money.

It's amusing to me that the Frank Rich's of the world have to defend the spook agencies(!) in order to get their political needs met. There's no metaphor for the irony of this; the left is just that desperate.

Posted by: Crid at June 17, 2007 5:32 PM

I'll just go back to watching "The Girls Next Door"...let's see what the great social scientist Hugh Heffner can uncover with Kendra and Bridget.

Posted by: The Mad Hungarian at June 17, 2007 5:57 PM

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