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Lying is lying


Fri, Jul 6th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

June 21, 2007, less than two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the sentencing of Victor Rita. Mr. Rita is a 25 year veteran of the Marine Corps and served in Vietnam and Gulf I. He has received 35 medals during his service. He was convicted of lying to a grand jury and obstruction of justice in the sale and purchase of firearms. He was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison despite his advancing age and physical illnesses.

Scooter Libby was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for lying to the FBI and a grand jury and two counts of obstructing justice. Mr. Libby has had no military service but has been in public service in the government for many years. He is a lawyer.

July 2, 2007 Mr. Bush commuted Mr. Libby's sentence. He made no mention of Mr. Rita.

Democrats are going ballistic; Republicans are generally happy but more muted in their response. Mostly they defend Mr. Bush by pointing out Clinton pardoned some controversial felons, no other criminal indictment resulted from this investigation, which they feel should have been stopped the moment Richard Armitage said "it could have been me," and, in any case, Plame was not a covert operator anyway.

I have no confusion about Mr. Bush's right to commute or pardon anyone for any reason. The constitution is clear on that subject. In this arena, he definitely has the power of a king. The Senate and the House can pass a resolution condemning the action that will be purely symbolic. They did just that sort of thing on some of Mr. Clinton's pardons.

My understanding is it was the CIA that requested an investigation into the outing of Plame. If she was not covert why would they do that? If she was would outing her put some of her associates in jeopardy? Does this give CIA agents pause to wonder if their cover can be broken by somebody at the White House in a fit of pique or for a public relations effort? Was I dreaming when I saw on TV a House committee meeting where the CIA deputy director said Plame was covert?

Stopping the investigation as soon as Mr. Armitage said "maybe it was me" has a certain cachet to it, but Fitzgerald is the only one who could make that decision. News reports indicate that John Ashcroft, the attorney general, knew about Armitage and made no effort to stop the investigation. Pundits make much of the fact Armitage was against the war in Iraq and so should be considered impartial at least. Armitage is one of Bush's original "vulcans" along with Wolfowitz, Rice, Perle, and others.

Does anyone believe many of these people work alone or make many decisions of import by themselves? Continuing investigations to see if others were involved seems appropriate to me.

It doesn't seem reasonable perjury should only be prosecuted if an investigation results in criminal charges. Perjury is most likely to occur to prevent criminal charges, don't you think? The fact that no criminal charges were brought is not a corollary to mean a crime was not committed. Perhaps this is why the investigation lasted as long as it did? Maybe it should have lasted longer.

Comparing the commutation with Clintons' pardons is such an obvious straw dog it requires no refutation. This is very much akin to your teenager excusing themselves by telling you "Bobby did it too". All of these actions, in the end, must stand on their own merits.

Some observers believe because Mr. Libby is a lawyer and also a relatively high government official he should be held to a higher standard. I just can't get myself to agree. We should all be held to the same standard when law enforcement, investigations, and juries are involved.

I agree with Patrick Fitzgerald the prosecutor of Mr. Libby.

"The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencing which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing."

I am pretty sure Mr. Victor Rita wishes Mr. Bush felt the same way.

Robert Sauer lives in Preston. He can be reached at r.sauer@mchsi.com

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