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Fri

09

Mar

2007

Pardon Me?
Friday, 09 March 2007 09:32
by Stephen P. Pizzo

Oh how they howled, waving their arms and slamming their desks like hell and damnation preachers of old.

"How could he do it!!? What a violation of public trust! What a scar he has made on public office!"

Who? What? Where?
  • Bill Clinton,
  • Lied under oath,
  • Before a grand jury.
What an outrage! Get a rope, cried the GOP's chief of morality police, Tom DeLay, back then: (Oh, by the way, DeLay himself is now under indictment down in Texas.)

"This nation sits at a crossroads,” DeLay said of how Congress should react to Bill Clinton's grand jury perjury. “One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law. Sometimes hard, sometimes unpleasant, this path relies on truth, justice and the rigorous application of the principle that no man is above the law. Now, the other road is the path of least resistance. This is where we start making exceptions to our laws based on poll numbers and spin control. This is when we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us, when we ignore the facts in order to cover up the truth.  No man is above the law, and no man is below the law. That's the principle that we all hold very dear in this country."

Well not all that dear, apparently. Perjury by a public official only poses a risk to life, liberty and the American way of life apparently when the liar is a Democrat.

Conservatives press Bush for Libby pardon

March 7,  2007 -- USA TODAY-- With the ink hardly dry on Lewis "Scooter" Libby's perjury conviction, some conservatives are urging President Bush to wipe away the jury's finding of guilt by granting the former vice presidential aide a pardon. -- The calls have come from longtime critics of the Libby prosecution, including pundit William Kristol, former federal prosecutor Victoria Toensing and George Mason University Law professor Ronald Rotunda. (Full)

The Libby case, you see, is nothing like the Clinton perjury, according to GOP conservatives. Libby's prosecution was in fact a political persecution. Bill Clinton's impeachment, on the other hand, was the rule of law at it's best.

Okay. So Libby's perjury is "different." But how?

Well let's see if we can figure that out with a side-by-side comparison:

The Clinton Case:
Article I of the impeachment resolution against President Clinton  -- “alleges that he committed perjury before the grand jury. On August 17, 1998, President Clinton swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The evidence shows that contrary to that oath, the President willfully provided perjurious, false, and misleading statements to the grand jury."

The Libby Case:
From the Libby indictment: "On or about March 5, 2004, in the District of Columbia,I. LEWIS LIBBY, also known as “SCOOTER LIBBY,” defendant herein, having taken an oath to testify truthfully in a proceeding before a grand jury of the United States, knowingly made a false material declaration..."

Difference:
Clinton was charged with ONE count of perjury. Libby was charged with FIVE counts of perjury.

The Clinton Case:
Clinton committed perjury during testimony in a case of sexual harassment, (Paula Jones,) a crime for which Clinton was never charged.

From the Clinton Articles of Impeachment: “The key to understanding the facts of this case is to understand why the President was asked, under oath, questions about his private life in the first place. Despite the popular spin, it wasn't because Members of Congress or lawyers from the Office of the Independent Counsel, or a gaggle of reporters suddenly decided to invade the President's privacy. No. This all came about because of a claim against the President from when he was the Governor of Arkansas.”

The Libby Case:
Libby committed perjury during testimony in a case of outting a covert CIA agent, (Valarie Plame,) a crime for which Libby was never charged.

Difference:
None. Both men ended up getting charged for lying in cases they were never charged in – Clinton for on a sexual harassment charge, and Libby on violating national security laws.”

The Clinton Case:
Democrats claimed the case against Clinton was politically motivated:

Herald Tribune Jan 1998: “Kenneth Starr, the independent prosecutor investigating allegations that President Bill Clinton had an affair with a young aide and then told her to deny it under oath, promised Thursday to move ahead quickly with his investigation and denied that he was motivated by politics.”

The Libby Case:
Republicans claim the case against Libby was politically motivated.

“William Kristol attacked special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the 2003 leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity as "absurd" and a "politically motivated attempt to wound the Bush administration." He also asserted that Fitzgerald is "out to discredit the administration." (Watch)

Difference:
None.  Both Clinton and Libby lied under oath before a federal grand jury. The fact that political partisans made hay off those lies is – well, “shocking! Simply shocking. (As in, “Duh!”)

The Clinton Case:
Proponents of impeachment claimed that the rule of law demanded that everyone, no matter their status in life, be held to the same standard of the rule of law.

"What is on trial here is the truth and the rule of law,” shouted Republican Representative, James Sensenbrenner. “Our failure to bring President Clinton to account for his lying under oath and preventing the courts from administering equal justice under law, will cause a cancer to be present in our society for generations."

The Libby Case:
The same GOP that felt that way when Clinton perjured himself now say Libby deserves a break --  as in a complete pardon.

"I think ultimately, of course, there are going to be pardons," said Joseph diGenova,  a former prosecutor and an old Washington hand who shares that view with many pundits."These are the kinds of cases in which historically presidents have given pardons," said the veteran Republican attorney.   (See also the excellent 1998 profile done by Howard Kutz of the diGenova/Toensing team.)
Difference:
None that I can see. I agree with original sentiment expressed by Republicans in 1998 -- that no one should be above the law.

The Clinton Case:
Proponents of Clinton's impeachment claimed that nothing less than the American way of life wase at stake:

From the Articles of Impeachment Jan 14, 1999: “On behalf of the House of Representatives and in the name of the people of the United States, I will be presenting to the Senate evidence against the President to demonstrate he committed perjury before a Federal grand jury as set forth in article I of the articles of impeachment....More than 20 years ago, the Supreme Court addressed this very concept of perjury and its dangerous effect on our system of law. Listen to the words of the U.S. Supreme Court:

'In this constitutional process of securing a witness' testimony, perjury simply has no place whatever. Perjured testimony is an obvious and flagrant affront to the basic concepts of judicial proceedings. . . . Congress has made the giving of false answers a criminal act punishable by severe penalties; in no other way can criminal conduct be flushed into the open where the law can deal with it.'”

The Libby Case:
The same conservative commentators that made the case against Clinton now say that Libby's perjury was different, in part, because “it really didn't seriously impede” the federal investigation.

Difference:
Clinton lied about extra-marital sex. (And, let's remember, Clinton's perjury didn't "seriously impede" the case against him either. He still got caught.)

Libby lied to hide how the Bush administration had tried to cover up it's own lies that led America into war resulting in the death of over 3200 Americans and countless Iraqis.

(Clinton Grand Jury Transcript)
(Libby Grand Jury Transcript)

The Clinton Case:
Congress failed to convict, (impeach.) Bill Clinton

The Libby Case:
Libby was convictedon four of the five perjury charges brought against him.

Difference:
None really, if you think about it. Clinton will always be remembered for being charged and facing impeachment. And, while he escaped the worst, everyone knows, and history will record, that he was guilty of the charge of perjury.. an obvious fact he has taken responsibility for, if grudgingly.

Libby has not yet escaped the worst, though he likely will via a pardon. But a jury of his peers ruled him guilty of perjury, a fact that everyone knows and history will record.

I hope this has helped you understand why those 1998 holier-than-thou, defenders of American justic, law-and-order Republicans now consider say convicted perjurer, Scooter Libby, got a raw deal and deserves a pardon.

And if this did help you understand that, would you drop me an email and enlighten me too.
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