Libby's case came out of one of the most absurd news stories of recent memory. That was the buffoonish Joseph Wilson IV's claim that the White House sought to punish him for his anti-administration stand on weapons of mass destruction by illegally leaking his wife's identity as a covert CIA agent. Soon it was learned that Wilson had lied repeatedly. Next it transpired that his wife was not at the time a covert CIA agent. Finally, by now Fitzgerald had discovered that she was not covered by the law and that no crime had been committed. Yet confusion soon was discovered in Libby's testimony that could be interpreted as perjury. Now millions of dollars of legal expenses since, Libby is on his way to jail.
The case was a political scandal that left everyone appearing scandalous -- the White House, Wilson and his anti-war partisans and the press, particularly The New York Times. The Times called for the prosecutors to investigate the source of assumed White House leaks to the press. As a consequence, one journalist was jailed and others were threatened. The Times, in its partisan zeal against the Bush White House, actually managed to reduce freedom of the press and open a new avenue for government coercion of journalists. From the plagiarisms of Jayson Blair to this latest reckless partisanship, the Times continues to be its own worst enemy.
What is to be done? The president has the power to pardon, and he ought to pardon Libby. George W. Bush is, as I have observed him, a tough-minded man of conscience. Surely he recognizes that Libby is a victim of an overzealous prosecutor, a poisonously partisan process and a confused testimony. If Cohen and Hitchens can find themselves on the same side with me on Libby, perhaps there are liberal politicians who will too. Whatever the case is, the president should act. Disgraced and possibly broke, Libby has suffered enough.
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