Pardon Me, Mr. President (Before You’re Impeached)
One thing I’ve learned about the Bush White House over the course of the last six years is that they love to do the unprecedented and they love to do it in the most over-the-top way possible. Given that history, when it comes to the question of a Scooter Libby pardon, I’m of the opinion that it will come sooner rather than later.
So what if the move is politically dangerous? So what if Libby doesn’t qualify for a pardon under the Justice Department’s own guidelines? So what if the only reason to do it is to silence Libby and make sure he doesn’t take Prosecutor Fitzgerald up on his offer to chat further about the case? After being “re-elected” in an election plagued by fraud, mysterious vote counts and voting machines that “erred” in Bush’s favor 100% of time, Bush swaggered around talking about mandates and political capital. Mired in an unpopular war and presented with recommendations from the Iraq Study Group that called for a pullback of troops and increased diplomacy, the President instead decided to escalate the conflict. When caught breaking the FISA law, Bush just smirked as if challenging Congress to do something about it. Once Bush makes up his mind to pardon Libby, if he hasn’t already, he’ll simply do it without explanation. Remember, he’s the decider, he can do as he damn well pleases. Bush follows the rules until he doesn’t. That is his trademark.
The chances of Scooter Libby cooperating with Patrick Fitzgerald are slim to none, so Fitzgerald’s investigation is effectively over. Now it is up to Congress to continue the investigation. Congress can decide to take up the issue of pre-war intelligence and conduct a real investigation that can lead to the answers that Fitzgerald was unable to unearth because of Scooter Libby’s intentional and blatant lies. Congress must ask the important questions that this case has raised. Why was Cheney so intent on discrediting Joe Wilson? How far did the White House go in manufacturing evidence to support an invasion of Iraq? Did Silvio Berlusconi put the forged Niger documents into the hot little hands of President Bush? Did the White House endanger CIA assets and out an undercover agent in an effort to cover up the high crimes of manufacturing evidence and lying to Congress and the American people about their case for war? With the Democrats in control of Congress and the American people firmly against the continued occupation of Iraq, it is finally possible to at least attempt to get to the truth of this case. The Democrats just need to find the political will to do it.
With President Bush’s approval rating at another all time low of 30% and the Vice President’s Chief of Staff (and advisor to President Bush) now a convicted felon, it shouldn’t be too hard to find the political will to uncover Bush administration crimes. Any real investigation into pre-war intelligence will most certainly lead to impeachment proceedings, so the sooner they start the better. The Democrats should strike while the iron is hot, they have the wind at their back, the American people on their side, hell, there’s even a Republican using the word impeachment, and there are many more looking to put a little (or a lot) of distance between themselves and the Bush administration before they face the voters again in 2008. It’s hard to imagine a better set of circumstances for investigations into impeachable offenses.
It really is simple. Scooter Libby lied to the FBI and to a Grand Jury in order to protect himself and his boss Dick Cheney. If Scooter is willing to face a few years in jail for lying, the alternative must be worse and that is the nut that Congress must crack. It’s likely that there were serious crimes committed in the White House while they were building their case for war. It’s hard to imagine a case more worthy of investigation. If a blowjob in the Oval Office sullied the office of the Presidency, how could anyone argue that this behavior does not? If impeachment is to remain a constitutional remedy for criminal behavior by public officials, it is our duty to use it in the most egregious cases, not just the superficial political ones.
Update: Apparently Rep. Henry Waxman has at least decided to start the ball rolling in this general direction. Thank you Congressman.