- 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.




The Washington Times complains that President Bush’s commutation of Lewis Libby’s jail sentence was excessive, writing that “A jury… handed down a very supportable verdict.” But soon after the trial, at least two of those jurors (#9 and #10) who participated in the verdict repeatedly called for the president to grant Libby a full pardon. Indeed, they said that there was broad sympathy for him among the jurors. A pardon goes well beyond Mr. Bush’s commutation since it eliminates all punishment, while the president’s decision still requires Libby to pay $250,000 and remain on probation for two years.

There is a great distinction between the task of a jury — to determine that the accused committed a crime — and the task of the judge — to hand down a suitable punishment. Mr. Bush stated that he respected the jury’s finding: the jury performed their task properly, but Judge Reggie Walton failed at his. It is the judge, not the jury, who was overruled by the president’s commutation of the sentence.




Commuting I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s sentence could be seen as a tactical move by President Bush. As long as Libby is appealing his conviction, he can plead the Fifth and refuse to testify. A complete pardon now would have placed Libby in the uncomfortable position of having no fig leaf of immunity.

The big question remains: who was Libby protecting? Why did Libby feel the need to mislead the grand jury in the first place, if there was no underlying crime to cover up? Many of us suspect Libby fell on his sword to protect higher-ups. Now we may never know if anyone committed underlying crimes.

I don’t believe that Mr. Bush was concerned about a “just sentence.” There is nothing just about zero days in jail. Even Paris Hilton had to spend a few days there. No, Mr. Bush was concerned about what Libby might start staying when actually looking into a prison cell. Mr. Bush is also sending a message of reassurance and hint of a reward to others to keep their own traps shut: “Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.”

If you remember, Libby was originally going to call his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, to testify as a witness in his defense. That was logical. Then, suddenly and oddly, Mr. Cheney’s name was dropped. Many of us suspect this was when a secret deal was made. Later, reporters noted that Libby smiled confidently when his sentence was read. Now we know why.

Does anyone doubt a full pardon is part of the deal, too, and will be issued as Mr. Bush leaves office? In fact, there may well be an avalanche of pardons at that time.


Iowa City, Ia.

A ‘One China, One Taiwan’ policy

Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian (“Beijing’s ‘One China’: The Cross-strait Jacket” Oped, Tuesday) states that “After 10 years of experience with ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong, the public’s expectation of electing their executive chief and all legislators has not been met.”

Clearly, the Hong Kong experience teaches the people of Taiwan the lesson that freedom and democracy are words that do not appear in Beijing’s vocabulary. And that Beijing’s “One China” is a mere fallacy, a Chinese pie in the sky, to which the 23 million peace-loving people of Taiwan do not aspire to adhere at all.

Disturbingly, the United States maintains its own version of the “One China Policy.” The 1972 U.S.-China Shanghai Communique, the cradle of this One China Policy, stated that “The U.S. acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.”

True, at the time, both the Communist government in Beijing and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government in Taipei claimed sovereignty overt each other’s territory.

But in the early 1990s, the Taiwan side unilaterally gave up its claims on the mainland, thus effectively rendering the “U.S. One China Policy” null and void.

Now that Taiwan is a de facto independent country and a bastion of democracy and human rights, the time has come for the international community (including the United States) to accept the reality in the Taiwan Strait and either abolish the One China Policy completely or have this outdated Cold War relic replaced by a policy more clearly reflecting today’s reality: a “U.S. One China, One Taiwan policy.”



Formosan Association for

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