- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 8, 2007

Commuting Libby’s sentence While I usually agree with the editorial opinions expressed on this page, I must take issue with this paper’s position on “The Libby affair” (Editorial, Wednesday) that the commutation of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s sentence was the wrong thing to do.

The continued prosecution of Libby after it was learned that he was not the one who leaked the name of a CIA employee made everything gained afterward fruit from a poisoned tree. If there was any abuse of the system, it was from the special prosecutor, not Libby, and if a price should be paid, the penalty should be on the government for looking for something, anything, to prosecute after it was learned that a crime was not committed.

Sure enough, put people on the stand long enough, browbeat them sufficiently, and they will forget something or recall differently — as was the case with Libby. The indictment may say, “We found,” but more likely the jury believed and, acting on that belief, convicted. Sorry, folks, that’s hardly enough to send a good and decent man to jail for 30 months. In Libby’s case, the jury believed Chris Matthews about a conversation he had with Libby years ago. Libby recalled things differently. It is unacceptable to convict on “belief” instead of hard factual proof — as was clearly the case here.

Lastly, regarding process: Let’s be very clear about our judicial system and especially our jury system. It is as likely to be right as it is likely, at times, to be wrong, and we should be even more careful when it comes to placing our blind trust in the infallibility of special prosecutors or judges, who can be venal and prejudiced when it suits them. In this case both the judges — even at the appeals-court level, where the court wanted to jail Libby before completion of his appeal — and the jury had it in their minds to find someone guilty of something. In that absurd environment, some may call what results justice. I call it insanity.

For real justice to prevail, Libby deserves a full pardon and further deserves to have all his legal bills paid. For the government’s part, less blind trust and more skepticism is needed from the press on this one. Something surely is wrong with our special prosecutor laws, and they need revisiting. And, most especially, where there is no crime, end the investigation. Period. That the special counsel went on is unacceptable.


Dorchester, Mass.


I believe Wednesday’s editorial “The Libby affair,” which criticizes President Bush for commuting I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s prison sentence, is mistaken because of a fact you cited in the editorial yourself — Libby is the victim of a “trumped-up” investigation, also known as entrapment.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald knew that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, not Libby, revealed the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame to columnist Bob Novak before he ever questioned Libby. If revealing Mrs. Plame’s identity as a CIA employee was a crime, Mr. Fitzgerald should have indicted Mr. Armitage and ended his investigation. Mr. Armitage wasn”t the big fish for whom those who agitated for Mr. Fitzgerald“s investigation were looking. Had he indicted Mr. Armitage and concluded his investigation, the agitators would have accused him of a cover-up. So he kept “investigating” until he entrapped Libby for inconsistent testimony.

Unfortunately, President Bush needs Mr. Fitzgerald as a defense against the phony charge that his administration is improperly replacing federal prosecutors. If that were true, wouldn’t Mr. Fitzgerald be the first to go?

Thus, it will probably remain for the Supreme Court, if it can overcome its usual ideological divisions to inform Mr. Fitzgerald and all federal prosecutors that the federal courts are not a tool to be used to entrap innocent people. An entrapment is simply the obverse of withholding exculpatory evidence from a defendant or his attorney, and we know what happened to the prosecutor who recently tried that.




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