Today the illogical and bully conservative movement are making points that resemble a group of 2nd graders caught spying on the girls bathroom. “But he did it too.” First statement out of their mouths is usually, “But Clinton pardoned 400 people.” Like your mommies told you when you were kids, “Just because your friend jumps off a bridge…..” is still wise advice today.
In the wake of the Clinton debacle I voted for Bush in 2000. Not certain that he was going to make a great leader, but at the time I thought, “How much worse could it get?” Boy I will never ask that again. I felt what Bill Clinton did was wrong and was appalled at the time. He was charged with perjury. I also agree with the critics who say that those questions were not ones the government had a right to ask. But they did, he lied, he ultimately was acquitted. An acquittal that was handed down by a republican held senate. He lost his license to practice law for awhile.
In the end what he was questioned about was not a crime. Lying to the grand jury was. The result of his actions were that millions of potential Americans ended up staining Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress and the American male got to add another term to his vocabulary to insinuate oral sex.
Scooter Libby was convicted in a court. He was convicted of “obstruction of justice”. He was sentenced and was on his way to jail. His crime was undeniable. The jurists came out of the trial and stated that they had no doubts of his guilt during interviews. They believed that there was a greater cover up and that they wished to have heard from the vice president. His crime was part of a ring of deception perpetrated on the American public. What that means is they felt equally moved that more people were also guilty. The prosecutor did not have enough evidence to guarantee a conviction.
Libby was part of a group that sought to bully Joseph Wilson through means more becoming of a dictatorship. Ambassador Wilson offered intelligence that could have persuaded the congress and senate to not send nearly 3,600 US soldiers to their death, send 26,000 of them to be injured, create a new “breeding ground for terrorism”, and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. If the Administration had heeded his information, maybe would cold have spent the money chasing down the terrorist connected to Al-Qaeda. At the very least an avenue of accurate intelligence wouldn’t have been collapsed. Mr. Libby and anybody connected to this criminal act should be considered enemies of the state and not pardoned.
Now that we had a little American Legal history lesson, let us put it in context we all can grasp. Imagine two guys run a red light one gets a $150 fine the other two years in prison. Sound like an imbalance of justice. They both committed the same crime. The truth is one was charged with a traffic violation, the other with Vehicular homicide. The result of two people doing the exact same action had two different impacts. To make it more accurate, I would have to include the guy who was convicted of vehicular homicide was fleeing from police at the time. That shows the difference in intent. Libby was fleeing from the grand jury in order to cover up a crime. Bill Clinton was on the back end of a line of traffic scooting through a yellow light.
The defenders of this actions also state that Richard Armitage was the one who leaked the name. They say that since he didn’t have access to that information through secure venues he couldn’t have violated his obligation or the law. Basically he must have surmised on his own Valerie Plame Wilson’s CIA status, and there for he did not disclose a known state secret. It is a great defense that stinks like a skunk, but really it is difficult to disprove. Remember we are dealing with lawyers, they are paid to find loopholes like a McEmployee is paid to sell fries. First why would anybody believe him is he didn’t have access to the information. Secondly, why would this lone guy want to go out and take this activity on his own? What was his intent? And if Cheney had nothing to hide, why not come state it in court? It didn’t hold water for the jury, the judge, and the logic.
This action still walks the line as dangerously close to being a violation of the law.
The reason for pardoning was to give a citizen a way to receive reprieve process. The founders had the foresight and understanding to know laws that have sentences guidelines left loopholes or various disconnects between the crime and sentencing. The only sentencing guideline in the constitution is a death penalty for those who commit treason. Sharing state secrets with the enemy would be considered treason.
In old England a lot of trivial crimes carried death sentences. These crimes cold easily be brought against their political rivals or movement leaders. The downside is that they could easily be proven against friends and cohorts of the monarchy. So in those cases the Lords had the ability to pardon.
That example is what the founder didn’t want pardons used for. However, they did understand that crimes are not black and white. For example currently there is a young adult in jail in Georgia for 10 years for having sex with a minor. We all agree that child molestation is a heinous crime and should be prosecuted to “the fullest extent”. However the perpetrator in this case had less then 2 yrs in age difference. He was 17 at the time and his consenting partner was 15. (His Name is Genarlow Wilson's and the story can be found here.) This is the reason pardons were created. Everybody agrees that two teens having sex should not constitute a 10 year sentence against the male. The law has since been changed. That is what pardons were meant to be used for.
The pardon of Lewis Libby was closer to the reason the founders hesitated and ultimately gave that power to pardon only to the president. Remember that there were no term limits when the constitution was written and it was always assumed it would be political suicide to pardon somebody that was unpopular. The “lame duck” is one of the few ill side effects of term limits.
This pardon also walks the line because the one reason a pardon can not be issued is in the case of impeachment. This is where the law and justice has been bent over the rail and forcefully taken from behind. Again, the law states that you can not pardon people involved with an impeachment. The vice president and possibly the president would have been impeached if Scooter Libby was forced to disclose what he knew. Libby refused to talk about issues that would have lead to the impeachment of his boss. He did this knowing full well that even if he was convicted, as long as his boss was never impeached, he could get a pardon. Even the jurors said, “the wrong guy was on trial.” The hope was that the fall guy would become a singing bird. He no longer has that inspiration. This is exactly what the founding fathers feared would happen with the power of pardons. That is why they only granted it to the president.
Law enforcement knows the value of getting a conviction of a low level drug dealer to use as leverage to work up the chain. The events have walled up the ability to eventually hold the perpetrators of the misguided intelligence to be forced to answer weather they were criminally fraudulent or just incompetent. This is way there is such outrage over this action. Something went severely wrong in Iraq, and “We the people” want to know why?
You know I have been trying to get rid of this dang parking ticket that I got unjustly for years now. Do you think I could get a pardon?
"The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through." - Alexis de Tocqueville