I regret to find myself in disagreement with Bob Tyrrell, much less state it in public. But I consider this issue so vital to the future of the conservative movement in America and Bob is such a critical figure in the movement that I cannot stand by silently.
What troubles me the most about the general effort to secure a pardon for Libby is its abandonment of bedrock principle simply to achieve a desired result in an individual case and (from voices other than Bob’s) a cavalier disregard of the merits of the case and the serious threat that perjury poses to our legal and political system. When Congress impeached President Clinton based on a charge of perjury in a civil case that otherwise involved no high crime or misdemeanor, nearly every conservative voice approved. While I had mixed feelings as to whether that charge merited the solemn constitutional step of impeachment in that case, I strongly agreed with the underlying point that perjury and obstruction of justice cannot be tolerated if we are to live under the rule of law. And conservatives continue to make that argument. Most recently the New York Post criticized Hillary Clinton for giving a prominent position in her presidential campaign to a member of Congress who was impeached and convicted for perjury as a federal judge.
On the merits of the case, I respectfully believe that the jury decided correctly. Nobody who was not in the courtroom every day of the trial is fully qualified to give an authoritative opinion. However, the contradictions between Libby’s grand jury testimony about his conversations with Tim Russert and others and what Russert et al. testified are too stark to be accounted for by hazy recollection. The independent testimony of current and former White House personnel that Libby was briefed on Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA agent weeks before his conversations with Russert — which is when Libby testified that he first learned about it — seriously undermined Libby’s version. I would expect that, as a seasoned lawyer who has held positions of great public responsibility, Libby would have been able to give a compelling account at trial if he had a valid explanation as to why he testified the way he did. Since he exercised his right not to testify at trial, I can only conclude that he and his very able defense team decided that his testimony would not have helped him.
The notion that no underlying crime was charged is meaningless: anyone with experience dealing with federal prosecutors knows that they often bring cases based on perjury or obstruction when they may be lacking confidence that they can prove an element of the underlying crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s why Al Capone was put away for tax evasion rather than murder and Alger Hiss for perjury rather than espionage.
I see no real evidence that Patrick Fitzgerald was on any sort of vendetta — indeed he expressed great regret at having to bring the case in the first place. Far from seeking to entrap witnesses, Fitzgerald gave Karl Rove multiple opportunities to correct his testimony. If Fitzgerald were cynically hunting for a political scalp, Rove’s would have been much more glamorous than Libby’s.p>I hope that conservatism in America will stand for something more than taking the convenient position on the issue of the day. Conservatism has stood for limited, accountable, responsible government and for the rule of law. It has held itself out as an ideology based on principles rather than ephemeral considerations and it has championed figures who took principled stands that cost them politically, such as Barry Goldwater, Jim Buckley, and (before he came back in 1980) Ronald Reagan. If it is to be taken seriously, it cannot impeach a President of the United States on a perjury charge but pooh-pooh the perjury conviction of Scooter Libby, just as it cannot hold Tom Foley to one standard and Mark Foley to another. If it is to deserve respect, it cannot stoop to protect lawyers who perjure themselves. br> — Paul Windels III br> Scarsdale, New York.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?