Friday, July 06, 2007

Truth or Consequences - or not.

Huffington Pust
Steve Rosenbaum|
Truth or Consequences - or not.

Scooter Libby broke the law. He withheld evidence. And perhaps most importantly, he continues to withhold evidence that would make it possible for prosecutors to discover who 'outed' Valerie Plame.

Maybe we don't care. Perhaps it was Carl Rove, trying to get back at Joe Wilson. Or maybe it was Dick Cheney. But in any case, it wasn't Scooter Libby. And now we'll never know.

He broke the law - and he's not going to be punished for it.

The Bush administration in the person of Tony Snow suggests that the commutation of his sentence is a 'compromise' and that Bush's right wing supporters are pushing still for a full pardon. But that doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Scooter Libby isn't a poster boy for Right to Life issues, or any of the other extreme right political agenda items that would have had them calling for his pardon.

Who does Scooter Libby's commutation really serve?

One thing is clear. The Valerie Plame incident would have drawn in some of the most senior members of the administration.

Libby won't be held responsible, and he isn't alone.

He's another in a long list of Bush cronies who've broken the law, failed in their job responsibilities, been removed or resigned from office, and faced no consequences.

Remember "Brownie", Michael Brown the head of FEMA (who's previous experience was as the head of an equestrian organization). Well, under his 'leadership' people died. The country let down it's citizens. And with a hearty handshake he was out the door. Well done - Brownie!

And then there's Paul Wolfowitz, of the World Bank. He was accused of giving his girlfriend a huge raise for her work at the World Bank. He's gone. But once again, no consequences.

Or John Bolton at the UN.

Bush went so far as to put him in the job during a Senate recess, so that he could skip the confirmation process. He had lied on his application, conveniently 'forgetting' that he'd been interview by the State Department in 2003 regarding pre-war claims of Weapons of Mass destruction. And then, when it became clear that the Senate wasn't going to give him a free pass, he was out the door.

And let's not forget Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales testified before Congress: "I would never ever make a change in a United States attorney position for political reasons or that in any way would jeopardize an ongoing investigation."

But emails between Kyle Sampson ( Gonzales' chief-of-staff) White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Scott Jennings (Karl Rove's deputy) show, that's exactly what was doing. A email described the system Gonzales' DOJ would use for ranking U.S. attorneys, keeping those who "exhibited loyalty to the president and attorney general" and sacking the prosecutors who "chafed against administration initiatives."

So, what is the impact of lying to Congress? It appears there are no consequences.

There are more, of course:

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias resigned, one day after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service, further ratcheting up the pressure on the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, to stand down.

Monica Goodling, a senior adviser to Mr Gonzales and the justice department's conduit to the White House, resigned, and gave no reason for her decision.

Philip Cooney, chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, abruptly resigned - he was the official involved in deleting of dire climate change warnings from US government reports.

But President Bush's decision to commute Libby's sentence takes the entire parade of lies, obfuscation, and legal gamesmanship to a new level. It's clear that Bush didn't have any first hand knowledge of Libby's relative guilt or innocence. Instead, Bush pointed to the 30 month sentence as being excessive. Patrick Fitzgerald, the Special Prosecutor who prosecuted the case said before the sentencing: "We need to make the statement that the truth matters ever so much."

But it appears that's not the case.