So, when President Clinton lied under oath about being unfaithful to his wife, it was a genuine crime, but when Vice President Cheney's assistant lied under oath about one of the dirty tricks used to start a war, it's a technicality? If you're the Vice President and someone points out that you're peddling information that you know to be false, what do you do? You arrange for your critic's wife to lose her job, of course. And if the man's wife happens to be an undercover C.I.A. agent, no matter. And if she's actually working to track WMDs - which you say is one of the most serious problems the world faces - who cares? And if this man, whose wife you targeted, was only telling the truth, it doesn't matter. And if the truth he was telling was that Iraq didn't acquire any nuclear material and the White House knows that full well, that won't stand in your way. And even though the President is using the existence of this fictional nuclear material to sell the country a war, that shouldn't stop you. Get the man's wife fired and then when an investigation is launched into how an undercover C.I.A. operative's name got into the papers, lie about it. Tell everyone to lie. Have your people lie about who leaked the operative's identity and if they get called to testify under oath, have them lie some more. And if they're caught in a lie and put on trial, no problem, the President can step in at the last moment, just as they're about to be sent to jail and waive their sentence, just fine them instead. Because after all it was a technicality. Not like lying about an affair. That's serious. (Plus who knows what someone used to a life of luxury and ease might decide to offer up after a few months in prison. He might want to cut a deal. Couldn't have that.) For more, go here.
Update:I thought maybe I should say a little more about why I was making a big fuss over this. I didn't just read it in the paper this week; I've been following the story for a couple of years. The Libby trial grew out of Special Counsel Fitzgerald's investigation into how an undercover agent came to be named in the mainstream press. For a long time, it was the only sign that America's system of checks and balances still existed. And the exciting thing about it was that an investigator with 'plenary' powers was on the trail of a scandal that could result in collapse of this awful presidency. Scooter Libby was lying under oath for a reason, and it clearly wasn't to protect himself, since he was the one going to jail. And he wouldn't be lying to protect a junior. Since he reported directly to V.P. Cheney, it's pretty clear who he was shielding. If Libby had told the truth in order to get out of jail, I think it would have quickly led to impeachment proceedings for the current leadership. And while I understand the arguments about not rocking the boat, I think that if there's a legal way to end this toxic presidency ahead of next year's elections, America and the world will be better off. But now President Bush has made it clear he'll just pardon anyone who gets into trouble lying on his behalf, so prosecuting his crimes has just become an even more formidable challenge. And the thread of possibility I've been following for two years appears to have simply run out, leading to nothing more than another soon-to-be-forgotten P.R. fiasco for the President.