By Ben Stein
This George Bush fellow has major league cojones. It really amazes me.
Start with the obvious: The case against "Scooter" Libby was a total fraud. Completely bogus. The publicity-mad demoness Valerie Plame was not a covert overseas agent at the time the whole megillah about her erupted. So there was no, none, nada, law breaking by reporting that she was a CIA employee.
Second, there was no reason for the special prosecutor, the full on publicity hound Mr. Fitzgerald, to have even gone on with the investigation for a week or even a day. He knew in the first 24 hours who had told Bob Novak that Ms. Wilson was the one who sent her husband, the Democrat operative, de facto if not de jure, Joe Wilson, to search for facts about uranium in a little known African nation called Niger. And Mr. Fitzgerald knew it was not Karl Rove or Scooter Libby. Why then did he continue the investigation and torment the many totally innocent people he tortured? Why did he drive honest civil servants to despair and impoverishment when he basically had no mission?
(And isn't he a lot like a certain prosecutor in North Carolina who pilloried totally innocent Duke University La Crosse players in a totally trumped up, absolutely bogus case when there was no solid evidence against them at all? Is it not frightening what an out of control prosecutor can do in a free country? The wicked man in North Carolina faces prosecution and has already had other sanctions. Is this being considered for Mr. Fitzgerald?)
Third, while prosecutors can do almost anything they damned well please, it is not considered de rigueur to prosecute for perjury in an investigation in which there is no underlying crime. But that's precisely what happened in the Libby case. Mr. Fitzgerald prosecuted for perjury even though there was no crime he was investigating. It was just a mammoth unnecessary, phony fishing expedition to snare Bush operatives that caught Libby. He had been asked countless questions and finally got a few wrong and so the prosecutor sprung.
The judge should have just tossed out the case on the first day of the trial. There simply was nothing there but prosecutorial overreach. But the trial went on. A Washington, D.C. jury -- a pool of men and women who were confused, to put it charitably -- found for the prosecution and then the real evil began.
At the trial, the prosecutor had conceded that there was no underlying crime and that Libby had not "outed" anyone. But then in the sentencing phase the prosecutor completely falsified himself and claimed Libby had done serious national security damage -- by naming an employee of the CIA who was not covert and not overseas, contrary to his statements at trial.
The judge, who must have been a real whiz in law school (yes, I know he was appointed by Bush), sentenced Libby, a first offender who will never be in court again, to two and a half years in prison. It was insane.
Now, enter George W Bush. Desperately wounded by the Iraq War, basically friendless in Washington, D.C., he was not expected to risk one iota of his dwindling political piggy bank to rescue Scooter -- who had, of course, been chief of staff for Bush's Vice President, the cordially disliked Dick Cheney. Why should he? He has enough troubles.
But Mr. Bush saw a basic wrong. A man who should never have seen the inside of a courtroom as a defendant had been pilloried for no good reason and then sentenced to a Stalinist sentence. His basic decency overrode political and PR considerations. He simply did the right thing. He let an innocent man breathe the air of freedom. He used the power of his office to say "enough" to an out of control prosecutor, an out of control grand jury, and an out of control judge and jury. In a simple phrase, once again, he did the right thing regardless of cost.