Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Doing the Right Thing - W Edition

It's not every day - or week for that matter - that our President does the right thing. By commuting Scooter Libby's prison yesterday, however, Bush absolutely did. The administration's political opponents simply wanted revenge for what was seen as political retaliation in the case of the supposed "outing" of Joe Wilson's CIA-operative wife Valerie Plame. By denying them this catharsis, he might have stirred up more enmity, but he spared an innocent man prison - and that was the right thing to do.

While the Plame secret was among the worst kept secrets in Washington, Bush's angriest opponents smelled blood in the water and decided to attack. Their hope was that either Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, or the President ordered the disclosure of Plame's identity to the press. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage - no partisan unfortunately - admitted to having dropped the name in an innocuous context and immediately made his superiors aware. Once the Armitage "confession" was revealed - with no connection to Bush or Cheney - the special prosecutor's inquest should have ended immediately. Of course it didn't and the special prosecutor explored a much-inflated obstruction charge against Libby, obtaining a conviction largely on the back of the Plame disclosure.

Libby was basically convicted of a crime he did not commit - the disclosure of Plame's CIA identity. (There has been virtually no call for Armitage's head - he has few political enemies.) Using the power afforded his office, President Bush allowed Scooter Libby to go home. We should all be satisfied that at least one man will not be denied his freedom to sate the hatred of others.