Thursday, March 08, 2007

Looking Glass Liars & The Partisan Hypocrite Test

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I am in Cabo San Lucas waiting for Morpheus, apparently becalmed about 100 km off-shore. I didn't bring the laptop, thinking this would be good time to take the blogging "needle" out of my arm for a few days. As it turns out, "cold-turkey" is not a viable option for me. I am taking one shot of blogging "methadone" at an internet cafe, and probably compromising my blogger password in the process. Just one quick post, and I am sure I will be able to hold out until returning on the 18th.

The Libby verdict precipitated a surprising reaction from right-of-center blogs and pundits. At least from those with selective or short memories. The apparent "argument" being that that Libby's lies should not have been prosecuted, since there was "no underlying crime." The argument triggered a Deja Vu moment - Where have I heard this before? Ah yes, I remember now. I think we can use this as an aid to help bloggers understand themselves better.

DWSUWF submits for your consideration: The Partisan Hypocrite Test.

The Test

Consider these quotes from two special prosecutors in two high profile investigations into high ranking members of the executive branch of government.

"Any lie under oath is serious. Any prosecutor will tell you... we cannot tolerate perjury. The truth is what drives our judicial system. If people do not come forward and tell the truth, we have no hope of making the judicial system work. If someone knowingly tells a lie under oath during any investigation, it is every prosecutor's duty to respond by investigating and proving that if you can. That is a serious matter in any case. It is obvious it is a serious matter here in a case here where there is a national security investigation. The nature of any person telling a lie under oath to a grand jury is a serious problem. Having a high level official do that under oath under a national security investigation is something can never be acceptable. And that just made it mandatory that we pursue it. " -Patrick Fitzgerald - Press Conference after verdict - March 6, 2007
"The whole idea of equal justice under law means that you've got to play by the rules. It has nothing to do with the underlying subject matter. You just tell the truth. "Lying under oath, and encouraging lies under oath, does go to the very heart and soul of what courts do. And if we say we don't care, let's forget about courts and we'll just have other ways of figuring out how to handle disputes," he said. "There is no excuse for perjury -- never, never, never," he said. "There is truth, and the truth demands respect." - Ken Starr -Time Interview - Nov. 25, 1998
Now The Test. One question. It is a multiple choice.

Which of the following choices do you believe? Chose only one:

A) It was right for both Clinton to be impeached and Libby to be prosecuted for lies under oath, even though there was no underlying crime.
B) It was wrong for both Clinton to be impeached and Libby to be prosecuted for lies under oath, since there was no underlying crime.
C) It was right for Clinton to be impeached but wrong for Libby to be prosecuted for lies under oath, even though there was no underlying crime.
D) It was wrong for Clinton to be impeached but right for Libby to be prosecuted for lies under oath, even though there was no underlying crime.
If you answered A or B - Congratulations! You are not a partisan hypocrite.
If you answered C or D - there is no point in continuing to read this blog. You should go listen to podcasts of Anne Coulter or Bill Maher. Enjoy.

Full Disclosure: DWSUWF agreed with both prosecutors, both prosecutions, and chose "A". I don't care which political party they are in. If a high-ranking official lies under oath, you take that official to the wall. No one is above the law. No one has the option of lying under oath without paying the consequences.

So for all you non-hypocrites who are still with us, some other items we might agree on:

An identical rationale was used for impeaching Bill Clinton and prosecuting Scooter Libby. Clinton lied under oath during an investigation. He was impeached for lying under oath in an investigation into a blowjob. Libby was tried and convicted for lying under oath in an investigation about the leak of the identity of a CIA operative. It is completely irrelevant if the underlying reason for the lie under oath was a crime or not a crime. The blowjob was also not a crime. Clinton was still impeached for the lie about the blowjob. It is true that Cheney authorizing the public identification of Plame as a CIA operative was not a crime. It was not a crime since the President gave Cheney the authorization to disclose any secret information he deemed neccessary. No matter that his reason was to cover his ass politically and hide his role in selling the war to the American public under false pretenses. It was still not illegal. Just like Clinton's blow job was not illegal. But the lies under oath are another matter.

We also know from the trial that the release of Plame's identity was authorized by Dick Cheney, We know that Plame and Wilson's trip to Niger was a direct consequence of President Cheney pushing the CIA for follow-up on the uranium yellow-cake story. We know that Cheney was obsessed with the coverage that Wilson got on his report that the the yellowcake story was wrong. We know that he instructed Libby to attack Wilson in the press.

Libby is guilty. He perjured himself. He lied. No one else is going be convicted because Libby is taking the fall for others in the administration. Does he deserve it? Is he really a criminal? I don't think he is a bad guy. He is loyal and he thinks he is being a patriot by protecting Cheney. I feel sorry for him. But he made a choice. He chose to protect the Vice President and probably Karl Rove's politically, while keeping the American people in the dark about what really happened. You can admire his misguided loyalty to the people he worked for (who clearly don't deserve it). But he owed that loyalty to the American people. He made that choice.

He might spend a year in jail for that choice, before Bush pardons him on the way out of office. So it goes.

UPDATE: Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Libby is sentenced to 30 months in prison. The same night as the sentence is handed down, during the third Republican debate, moderator Wolf Blitzer opens the door for pandering politicians to reanimate the nonsensical, putrefying "there is no underlying crime" meme which rises zombie-like from the grave:
MR. BLITZER: So yes or no, would you pardon him?
MR. GIULIANI:"...and ultimately, there was no underlying crime involved."
MR. ROMNEY: " this case, you have a prosecutor who clearly abused prosecutorial discretion by going after somebody when he already knew that the source of the leak was Richard Armitage."
SEN. BROWNBACK: "Yes. The basic crime here didn’t happen."
DWSUWF welcomes the opportunity to once again pound a stake into the heart of this argument by updating and republishing this post.

Judge Reggie Walton said it best as he handed down the sentence (from the Wahington Post):
"Individuals should understand that when you transgress the law, there are consequences," Walton said. When those in high positions "step over the line," he continued, "it causes people to lose faith in our government."
It's a good thing.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Carnival of Divided Government


Quilly_Mammoth said...

Bill lied and so did Scooter. The entire purpose of an investigation is to determine whether a crime took place and if it did who committed it. Lyiing screws th entire judicial process up and there is a relief if one feels guilty or is worried one might be found so..."pleading the 5th".

Saying that lying when no crime was committed is the same as saying that lying because of sex is ok.

The only difference, in my mind, between what Scooter did and what Bubba did is that Scooter's going to serve time and Bill makes millions each year on the lecture circuit.

mw said...

Saying that lying when no crime was committed is the same as saying that lying because of sex is ok. - Quilly

Agreed. This is exactly the point of my post. Also agree with your "difference", but that difference may prove to be less than it appears now. Once Libby is pardoned, he will be free to also capitalize with speaking tours and books. Although I doubt he will ever command the kind of fees that Clinton does. Few people do. Thanks for the comment. - mw