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Case Not Closed

Justice for Scooter Libby -- and Patrick Fitzgerald. Bringing back Bush. Defining terrorism up or down. Famous last words. Plus much more.

7.6.07

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NO CLEMENCY FOR FITZGERALD
Re: Ben Stein's Bush Amazes:

Ben Stein never has made any pretense of being objective. Yet, it would be nice to read his take on the Victor Rita case, and the Bush administration's handling of that matter, in comparison to Libby.
-- Ronald E. Magnuson

It would have been very satisfying for President Bush to have had pardoned Libby. Ben Stein aptly recalls the litany of the faults in the case.

There is however one reason for settling for a commutation at this time. I have to hope that Libby's appeals will vindicate him in time. And the best result of all would be the recognition by the courts that Fitzgerald's appointment was illegal. That would be worthy much.

And, there are at least 18 months left to pardon Libby if worse comes to worse.

Let us all salute Ben's Buddha Nature!
-- Laurence

As usual, Ben Stein hits the nail on the head. For me, the main issue is prosecutorial misconduct. Like Nifong, Fitzgerald knew the facts -- in this case Armitage's early confession sealed the deal. Fitzgerald found the culprit; there was no need to expand the case. The questions that need answering are as follows:

Did Fitzgerald report back to the AG his findings vis-a-vis Armitage? This is important as Fitzgerald had to ask for permission to expand his investigation. In public he acted as if they were not making any headway. He was given the green light under this assumption. In public it appeared that there were those in the White House who were stonewalling. Everyone remembers Judith Miller being jailed. To the public, Fitzgerald appeared to the eager prosecutor who hunted down political apparatchiks that put politics before national security. The public would have thought differently if they knew Fitzgerald already knew who leaked Plame's name to Novak. How much information did Fitzgerald keep to himself when he requested permission to expand his investigation.

In the course of the investigation Fitzgerald threatened jail to reporters and delivered on his promise. This set a dangerous precedent, especially when one considers that Fitzgerald already knew who leaked Plame's identity to Novak. Did Fitzgerald mislead the courts by withholding this information? If the case was solved, what was Fitzgerald doing other than going on a hunting expedition?

Since Libby is a conservative, not one person in Congress or the press seems too concerned about a prosecutor who in effect lied or misled the AG, the courts, or the public. The moral outrage has been reserved for the President who issued the clemency. There seems to be no problem bankrupting a person, ruining his reputation, and destroying his ability to even feed his family. I don't even think Kafka could write such a tale.
-- JP
Indiana

If what Ben says is factual regarding Fitzgerald's case, then there should be recourse for this injustice. If there is no recourse then all this is moot. Given that Fitzgerald's public as well as trial statements don't agree in some very important ways and no one was charged with a crime regarding the central point of the investigation, it strikes me that if he had to answer the same questions asked several different ways over several months about his inaccuracies he could probably be brought up on perjury and obstruction of justice charges despite there not being an underlying crime to investigate. I'm sure one can be invented for this purpose. Indeed, if Washington DC residence and workers were held to the same standard as Libby under the same circumstances, the District would be relatively empty and we couldn't build enough prisons fast enough.

Remember it took a year for any controlling legal authority to take even interest in Nifong's charade. For there to actually have been obstruction of justice their had to be an underlying crime or injustice committed. There wasn't. The case should have ended even sooner than Nifong's injustice. Nifong did what he did for purely political gain. Libby was left out to hang because of politics. Both have no place in a real justice system.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

See Henry VI, (Part 2), Act IV, Scene 2:

The first thing we do...

I'm not advocating going as far as Dick, but the actions of prosecutors Fitzgerald and Nifong do call the famous quote to mind.
-- Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

The current head of the CIA, and Patrick Fitzgerald, have both confirmed that this woman was a covert employee of the CIA at the time she was outed. Obviously nothing is going to convince you that she was even if God himself said it and the fact that you launch your article with a personal attack on someone who seems to have been largely blameless in this tawdry bit of political payback really says it all doesn't it. We'll see how the the American people regard this blatant disregard for the legal system and due process during the 08 election. I have a feeling it isn't going to redound to the credit of the GOP.
-- John Ellis

The one angle I have not heard concerning the Scooter Libby saga is that about journalism itself. I would have thought that our MSM "professionals" would have taken a deep breath at the realization of the "chilling effect" the prosecution would have on their craft. If Libby was convicted upon what a reporter remembered him to say, pretty soon public officials will not talk to reporters at all.

All I can say is that if I was on the White House staff and I didn't absolutely have to talk to the press I would not speak on or off the record.
-- Michael Wm. Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

Re: "Bush Amazes" by Ben Stein: how about "fair and balanced"? Let's see an article about Bush ignoring the two border patrol agents rotting in jail for doing their jobs. (Jobs that Americans won't do??) They deserve pardons as much Libby did. Bush had better get his head right on controlling the border before he destroys the Republican Party.
-- Robert D. Aust, a very disgruntled Republican

STAYING ALIVE
Re: Quin Hillyer's Bush Isn't Dead Yet:

I think Quin Hillyer proved the point quite convincingly, albeit inadvertently that the reason George W. Bush is a weak, lousy politician with no achievements to his name is because he is a weak, lousy politician who lacks basic leadership skills. Telling a politician who has been in office as long as Bush has that he is a sore loser, is the worst communicator since 'Silent Cal' Coolidge and has no understanding of the concerns of ordinary voters is the same as saying that he is unqualified for the job. Bush can't lift his game because he has no game to lift and never did have. Bush is a failure as a President, he has eighteen months left in office and his polls are almost as bad as Nixon's in his last few days before he resigned. God only knows what damage Bush will do before he takes his last walk across the White House lawn. It is a good bet that conservatives will rate Bush as the worst President in the last century -- this conservative says it right now, but then I always like to beat the rush.

Instead of wasting time on a wasted Presidency, conservatives should instead be looking to make sure they pick a real leader the next time around, instead of a weak fake who couldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding, let alone defend the interests of his own country. Now, whats that Fred Thompson fellow got to say for himself?
-- Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

Mr. Hillyer makes many good and relevant points in his column. Let me take up just one of them, his point about Communication, and specifically communication regarding judicial appointments.

During his entire time in the White House, Mr. Bush has followed the same road map. He nominates a candidate to a judicial vacancy, and promptly moves on, forgetting all about what ever happens to his nominee. He has done this with his District Court level nominations and his Circuit Court of Appeals nominations. According to insiders within the Bush circle, he does not like trying to sell his choices to the American public, and does not believe that he should have to, so he refuses to. In fact, he believes that he should not be made to engage in normal party politics outside of the limited period of the race to the vote on election day.

My point, Mr. Hillyer, is that it would take a complete reversal of what Mr. Bush believes he ought to have to do to fulfill the duties of an elected politician. It is because of that fact that I do not believe that there is a snowball's chance in Hades to expect Mr. Bush to accept the truth of your column and to embrace its recommendations. Ergo, I do not expect Mr. Bush to rescue his remaining time in office from swirling down the primary toilet facility.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

This is something I never thought I would say but your assertion that Bush isn't dead yet makes it clear that he soon will be, and not a moment too soon. I mean by that that it is imperative that Bush be dead politically and retire to an ignominious existence in his adopted home state of Texas, hide his face under a barrel and try to recover from the embarrassment and disgrace he has earned by his attempt to rearrange the world, which he has done to its detriment. A long-time effort to recover from Bush's deranged ideas might take many, many years, and it may be too late for even that. Any one who is still supporting Bush and the Republican Party shows lack of political acumen, no regard for humankind, and a sad view of the earth and the fullness thereof. Unfortunately, Bush has enough time left in his second term to complete the job he is doing of dismantling all Democratic ideas, the American Constitution, and the greatest thoughts produced for man by the greatest thinkers of all time, our founding fathers, so it is incumbent on those who are close to him to try to change his mad dash toward disintegration (Armageddon) for America and her true friends. It is always later than one thinks and something must be done soon.
-- Conni Vance

High energy costs? That's your number four priority? We clearly live on different planets. I can see the merit of your first three points, although I would not have put them even into my top ten, but high energy costs? That is probably about number 50 on my list.
-- Paul Roth

ONE MAN'S TERRORIST
Re: George H. Wittman's We Can Do It:

Finally. George H. Wittman just about says it outright, which I've not seen any serious person do until now.

Our problem in Iraq and elsewhere is that we have accepted the enemy's first offer: we've agreed to the asymmetric warfare paradigm that favors his strategy, that is his strategy.

Wittman has suggested outline of an effective counteroffer: we reject the asymmetry demanded by the enemy and instead restore the symmetric engagement in which we are, in fact, much better than the enemy is. The spinal image of this kind of engagement would become one of pistol rounds into the heads of sleeping terrorists, rather than gun camera footage of $500,000 munitions striking mud huts from 15K feet up.

There's one more ingredient in this prescription. In Iraq, the behavior of the population at large makes it plain that the presence of terrorists among them is not yet painful enough. The Iraqis have to come to perceive that the costs of harboring terrorists are higher than the costs of getting rid of them. The current distribution of pain is evidently such that the Iraqi population prefers the present situation to one in which they, the people, force the terrorists to surrender, leave or die. They're still more afraid of confronting the terrorists than they are of random bombings or collateral damage from Coalition actions.

That calculus must be changed. People are responsive to incentives and disincentives. We've got to re-order the incentives in Iraq so that every Iraqi calculates that his least-bad alternative is to do whatever he can to rid his country of Islamic terrorists.
-- Paul Kotik
Plantation, Florida

I just finished reading Mr. Wittman piece, entitled "We Can Do It." He has a novel approach to unconventional warfare. But I have to take exception to several of his premises.

First, it is largely impossible to wage a "terrorist campaign" against terrorists, Why, simply because they have no infrastructure or civilian population to exploit. Both the Americans and the British conducted terrorist actions during the revolution. But, that conflict was settled by conventional troops, though sometimes using unconventional tactics. Mosby's Partisans had no noticeable effect upon the outcome of the Civil War. Philippine guerrilla action caused minor problems for Japanese commanders during WWII, but the disruption of naval supply lines by conventional naval forces doomed the Japanese. Vietnam was being won, handily, by conventional military forces when President Johnson decided to give the NVA time to rearm and rebuild after their disastrous Tet Offensive. The point is, that terrorist or even guerrilla activities have never decided a campaign or war.

Secondly, Mr. Wittman tries to lump perfectly legitimate and respectable special operations in with terrorist acts. Terrorist acts are simply actions that are designed to cause terror through indiscriminant acts of violence which are illegal. Assassinating enemy leadership, destroying military targets and mounting guerrilla raids behind enemy lines against legitimate targets are not terrorist acts. Attacking non-military (civilian) targets and personnel that have no military connections is illegal and is terrorism.

Now, does Mr. Wittman advocate United States forces attack innocent civilians and civilian targets? And what exactly is meant by the phrase "selectively coercing" local leaders? Perhaps he would suggest US troops start breaking the kneecaps of local politicians if they do not follow our instructions. How do you utilize "terrorism" to defeat terrorists?

The answer is, you don't. Special operations are very effective, but they can only do so much. Large numbers of conventional troops are used for two things, in this type of campaign, to deny the enemy (the terrorists) control of an area and for force protection. If an enemy can establish a safe haven, then he has someplace to re-arm, relax and replace his lost manpower. Deny an enemy a safe haven and the superior force will wear him down and destroy him. All that is necessary is time and the will to continue.

That is one of the reasons for the large number of US troops in Iraq at the moment. There are other reasons, most notably that of force projection into the region, but that is another story altogether. These are some of the reasons why the war can not be won by removing our conventional forces from the theater. The only way to win a war against terrorists is to destroy (kill) all of the terrorists. When terrorist acts cease, then the war is over. Simple, yes?
-- Michael Tobias
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

In a perfect and abstract world where all parties behave in accordance with a certain set of assumptions, the use of military force would not be required in Iraq or any other dark corner of the globe. I wish we lived in such a world. The truth is we do not.

The notion that we can pull our troops out of the fight and thereby stymie the terrorists and their evil plots because they won't have our troops to target is absolute nonsense.

What about mainland America? Could the terrorists attack us here at home?

Is it better to fight a war on the soil of our enemy or on our own soil? Is it better to fight a war with the best trained, best equipped, best lead military machine that ever existed, or is better to fight a war with domestic emergency responders like police and fire rescue workers?

The reason terrorists attack our troops is because it is convenient for them. The US military is on their soil. To get close enough to attack our troops the terrorist travels through adjacent countries where the native people share similar appearance, language, customs, etc. To enter Iraq, a terrorist can get in the back of a pickup truck and drive across the border. In many cases no identification, no passport, no visa, no money is required for the terrorist to make this journey.

Contrast this with a terrorist attack in the America. To attack America a terrorist has to travel halfway across the planet. The terrorist needs money, decent clothes, some understanding of western culture, training, and a base in the US where he can plot his treachery and accumulate the explosives or other devices required. Remove our troops from the Islamic world and where will the focus of the Islamic fascist fanatics turn? America. Remove our troops and the threat does not diminish.
-- Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

George H. Wittman has a dictionary that defines "terrorist" in a way that includes Revolutionary War militia, Civil War cavalry, U.S. Army forces behind Japanese lines in the Philippines all the way to Special Forces in Vietnam.

I would say that Mr. Wittman, and perhaps the editors of TAS, should be ashamed of themselves for printing such material, but "shame" appears to be a word that has no meaning to anyone today.

My dictionary, OED Ninth Edition, defines "terrorist" as "a person who uses or favours violent and intimidating methods of coercing a government or community." Unless one wishes to classify all armed forces in all contexts as "terrorists," one must focus on "community" for the commonly understood target of the terrorist. In that sense, none of the targets of Mr. Wittman's words qualify as terrorists. Their actions were without exception directed against uniformed enemy combatants.

Just in case the meaning of "community" in the terrorist context is unclear, consider the experience of my mother, at the time a twenty year old "au pair" hiding from the Gestapo in 1944 Brussels. She was walking a young boy and a baby carriage with an infant, turning the corner of the Avenue Louise, when a German officer exited a restaurant, and right in front my mother was gunned down by Belgian partisans. She had the presence of mind to pick-up the boy, and run with him and the carriage as quickly as possible down the Avenue Louise, knowing exactly what was about to happen. The Germans pulled everyone out of the restaurant, and a number of passers by, lined them up against the wall of the restaurant, and gunned them down. [i]That[/i] was using "violent and intimidating methods of coercing a...community." Not the Minutemen with their squirrel guns. Not Mosby's cavalry. And not the Green Berets with the Montagnards in the Central Highlands.

Language is the sine qua non of interpersonal communication. People like George Wittman need to demonstrate a proficiency in the language before they ever again deserve to be heard.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

As a member of the U.S. military I am disappointed with George Wittman's Iraq "solution." While he is no doubt well meaning his "strategy" sounds like cut and run on steroids. His "plan" would only make things worse for the US in Iraq, the world and ultimately lead to higher U.S. military death tolls. Currently, because the U.S. military and Bush administration have rejected such naivete and the cut and run strategy of Democrats, Sunni clans that were once the bedrock of the insurgency are turning on al Qaeda and working with us (albeit for their own purposes). They are even begging Democrats to stop undermining President Bush (something that would benefit conservatives too) and the American war effort.

Rather than suggesting America sink to radical Islam's level of barbarity conservative writers would be better off "speaking truth to power" by pointing out how the MSM and their political masters are lying about Iraq, the so-called "peace movement" are fellow travelers of al Qaeda and Muslim immigration into the US should be immediately banned with Muslim "agents provocateur" deported.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

George H. Wittman's article titled "We Can Do It" is the first realistic approach to the "War on Terror" that I have read. Once again, the United States has entered a conflict with strategies from the past. We are not fighting WW2, Korea, Vietnam or even the Gulf War. We are engaging an enemy the requires us to re-evaluate out tactics and Mr. Wittman understands that.

"We Can Do It," is one of the best articles I have read in the Spectator in a long time.
-- William Van Dyck
Walker, Minnesota

ONE-SIDED FAIRNESS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Control Freaks:

With Valerie Plame the model of a covert agent for the CIA, the Democrats and the D.C. social set, it is small wonder the U.S. is a blind giant. Also, it is more than ironic that in ignoring Mr. Penkovsky the CIA was extending his life.
-- Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

As usual, the Voice of Reason, Mr. Tyrrell, has put Dick Durbin, our little Senatorette Boxer, et al in the spotlight for what they are.

I recall the Fairness Doctrine as it operated on San Francisco local TV eons ago. Every night some loony flew out of the cuckoo nest for an incoherent 5 minutes of free time. And I remember how this Control Freak controlled it. Click. It will be easier with a remote.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

I'm reminded of the '60s chant from the hippies, dilettantes, malcontents, drug addled idiots etc who grew up to be the current democrat party...."we want the world and we want it now..."
-- Stuart Reed
Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan

PARTING SHOTS
Re: Jeffrey Lord's From Gettysburg to Glasgow and the letters under "Was It -- Is It -- Worth It?" in Reader Mail's Doing the Right Thing:

While reading Jeffrey Lord's article I could not help but think of a PBS special I had watched about a year ago. They were visiting a cemetery in Attica, Kansas. While watching the show I noticed they focused on a tombstone with a very interesting inscription. The person was N Grigsby who died April 16, 1890 aged 78. The inscription reads: "Through this inscription I wish to enter my dying protest against what is called the Democratic party. I have watched it closely since the days of Jackson, and know that all the misfortunes of our nation has come to it through this so called party. Therefore beware of this party of treason." I thought that it sounded an awful lot like the Democrat party of 2007. On the bottom of the tombstone is a further inscription reading: "Put on in fulfillment of promise to the deceased."
-- Bill Burns
Olathe, Kansas

Jeffrey Lord's "From Gettysburg to Glasgow" and readers' responses recalled to mind a quotation of President Lincoln's:

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."

Of course, there was no David Gregory questioning the Tony Snow of the time, as to just what President Lincoln meant by that statement.

Abraham Lincoln is also credited with "Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

FAINT PRAISE
Lawrence Henry's Praise Music Flunks:

It's not necessarily the Praise music that is the problem. It's the constant unending diet of nothing but praise music that is the problem. Here's my abbreviated take on the problem.

First of all, I guess I'm a cusp baby when it comes to my church music since I like both types of music. At 44 I grew up in a traditional church where the "teen music" was for Sunday school and youth group. The rest of the time we sang hymns. As I got older I discovered praise music and I really like some of it. You know, there are some praise songs out there that just make me want to lift my hands to the Lord and worship Him. And then there are those that make me want to wretch. The former do have great spiritual truth within them and the latter are trite, banal, repetitive and you really have to search to find ANY scriptural truth in them. No I can't think of one at the moment because I've tried to block them from my mind. The hymns that we think of as traditional were, as a least one or two mentioned, the contemporary hymns of their day. Some of the current praise music will no doubt be considered a "traditional" hymn at some point in time. Some of what we consider traditional hymns also contain some questionable theology as well. Our worship services should contain both types of music. It's that simple. Or is it?

One reader mentioned that the real problem was the me-me-me theology that has invaded our churches and that is the real crux of the problem. However I have a slightly different take on it than the person who mentioned it. Several wrote in to tell Mr. Henry he needed to "get with the times" and "stretch his personal boundaries." Christianity is also about mutual submission. I would submit that those who just want praise music need to stretch their personal boundaries as well to incorporate the past. Why is it that ONLY Mr. Henry and those who agree with him have to be the ones that change? Why doesn't our youth have to have an appreciation for their religious musical heritage? Why is it only about the youth and getting people in the door? Why should our elder members of our churches be told "if you don't like the music go somewhere else"?

The church is supposed to minister to ALL its members. The divided church service is one way but if we are to truly be mutually submissive to each other, as we are commanded to be, the music of the past and the present should be incorporated into every service.
--- Joyce Brough

GRAND RIO UPDATE
Re: Jonathan Frost's letter (under "Up From Extinction") in Reader Mail's Doing the Right Thing:

A judge here in Rio ruling against (at least temporarily) Al Gore's stupid "Live Earth" exhibition?!?

And with a whole bunch of legitimacy on her side!

With the favelas (drug-selling criminally populated slums up in the hills) and the protection for all the PanAm Games starting next week, she's right, the police would be spread 'way too thin. The cops and all kinds of extra security groups are protecting the various PanAm facilities from getting severely ripped off by that large criminal element (the one we really never see 'cause it's hidden, but just like Christopher and the Sopranos' mob hijacking loads of tools, clothes, cigarettes, cameras and TVs for resale, here is the copper wire, lights, gift kiosks, etc...) -- and those gutsy little creeps are smart -- they could well divert attention and grab an Armored Car (or two) with bank receipts while shooting up the neighborhood. Remember 19 were killed by cops within the last two weeks in crack-downs/raids -- and methinks they'd like to "exact some revenge," among other things. They care not for the image of Rio and the "Live Earth" fiasco, that's for sure!

Macy Gray and Lenny Kravitz? And somebody else? I wouldn't walk across the street to see them, much less 1/4 mile up the beach. 700,000 seems like a 'way-too-high estimate -- and if you were to see where the thing is supposed to happen, you might top out the number at maybe 150-200,000, tops. Yet, the others, attracted to the broad general area?

Personally, I'll either be at the SaoPaulo-Flamingo soccer match, or in The Allegro listening to jazz/bossa nova. Don't think I'll even bother making my "Al Gore Sucks!" poster.

Yeah, I'm with the judge -- not to stifle the environmental Chicken-Littles, but because she nailed it -- it could be mighty dangerous!

Incidentally, still awaiting Al Gore or one of his zealot/sympathizers to take me up on my wager. He says the water level increases 23-feet? I say less than 23-INCHES. Whoever's closer wins. Still no reply....

On another subject, briefly -- about swings, children and Hal's column, here in Rio, kids still play dodge-ball, and swing on swings -- they're not afraid to actually tag/touch another kid on the playground (lest the Political Correctness radicals rear their ugly heads and suffer extreme Teeth-Gnashing); teeter-totters still are used and, heavens, kids fall down in the dirt sometimes while playing! And, oh, the restaurants can still use that "better-tasting" fat to fry stuff in -- the fries taste good. No one throws a hissy-fit because beef Bar-B-Q is more popular than legumes or tofu. In fact, fast-food companies aren't compelled to put stupid VeggieBurgers on their menus by some goofy "activist" bunch.

On the other hand, though, this quote from the supercilious French actress Catherine Denveuve: "Brazil doesn't attract me. It's too consistently carefree." Guess you have to consider the source.

Rio's terrific, for a vacation. But I'll be home, on the Texas Gulf Coast, next week.
-- frost

SELF-EVIDENT TRUTHS
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Declaration of Independence (From Liberals):

Hear! Hear! Huzzah! Finally one among us has emerged. Eloquent. Intelligent. knowledgeable. Ms. Fabrizio for President!
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Quit, Cut and Run

ROSE DUD
Re: Larry Thornberry's Don't Save Me the Aisle Seat:

Hallalujah!!! Finally someone agrees with me about the worthlessness of the film Citizen Kane. I, too, have been shocked to see it listed with "best" movies. I don't consider it a good movie, much less the best. Thanks Larry Thornberry.
-- Margie Wilkins

RELIGIOUS REFUGEES
Re: Doug Bandow's Thrown to the Lions:

Great Article, Thank you for bringing this up, it's very important to let the world now what's happening for the Christians in Iraq.
-- Sean Ceschia

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