WASHINGTON -- I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, has been found guilty of lying and faces many years in prison. Joseph C. Wilson, his tormentor, has been found guilty of lying, and out in Hollywood they are going to make a movie of his life. He is Hollywood's idea of a hero.
According to a Senate inquiry, this mellifluous gasbag lied about findings regarding the Iraqis' pursuit of uranium in Niger. He lied when he suggested that he went on a mission there at the request of the vice president. And again he lied when he claimed that his report on Niger was circulated at the highest levels of government. In all three lies he got caught. Yet, he has emerged as a liberal icon. That sounds like a Hollywood movie to me. He also apparently lied when he said his wife was a covert CIA operative. If so, she was the CIA's station chief in Georgetown (As in D.C., not Guyana).
Then there is this lubricous whopper deposited in the Washington Post by the tireless Wilson: "If you take the time to look at the testimony, it makes very clear the extent to which senior officials within this administration embarked on a disinformation campaign, the justification of which was to cover up the lies they said in the first place." The testimony does nothing of the kind. I am coming to like this man, but then, I liked Clifford Irving, the great hoaxer who wrote the bogus autobiography of Howard Hughes. And to be honest, I have a warm spot in my heart for Bill Clinton. It is fortunate for Wilson that he has left no DNA trail marking his lies.
Now that Libby's life has been ruined, what is the Democratic leadership's response? Is it dignified silence? Is it at least feigned sympathy? Not at all -- it is more lies. Here is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "It's about time someone in the Bush administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics." There is another deception for you. Libby was not held accountable for anything of the kind. Now scrutinize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's response to Libby's fate: "This trial provided a troubling picture of the inner workings of the Bush administration. The testimony unmistakably revealed -- at the highest levels of the Bush administration -- a callous disregard in handling sensitive national security information and a disposition to smear critics of the war in Iraq." Pelosi is as extravagant a liar as Wilson. Perhaps she will get a movie too.
Frankly, I am not terribly surprised that the Democratic leadership's response to the conviction of a Republican for perjury would be an avalanche of lies. This is the party that supported the most mendacious president in American history through eight years of lying. It even stood by him after it was clinically demonstrated that he had lied to them and to the nation (that dratted DNA sample) with a lie that was perfectly gratuitous: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
In fact, the Democratic Party's frontrunner for the presidential nomination, the former president's wife, Hillary, is a renowned liar and a bully to boot. The New York Times memorably summed up her vices in an Oct. 22, 2000 editorial: "The investigative literature of Whitewater and related scandals is replete with evidence that Mrs. Clinton has a lamentable tendency to treat political opponents as enemies. She has clearly been less than truthful in her comments to investigators." That is what the last independent counsel, Robert Ray, said about her too. Ironically the Times' editorial, written just before the 2000 election, was not an endorsement of Mrs. Clinton's senatorial opponent, but of her.
From the moment we discovered that no crime had been committed in revealing that Wilson's wife was a CIA employee, the Libby trial has been a farce. The above cited lies might remind us of that. That the farce continues as our troops are engaged in defending our national security abroad is contemptible. Yet, one would not expect the Democratic leadership that took Libby's conviction as just another opportunity to hobble this wartime president to recognize how contemptible they are … or what arrant liars.