Park That Scooter: Five Major Papers Say, Don't Pardon Libby

By: E&P Staff In the aftermath of the sentencing of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, to 30 months in prison for perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to FBI agents, earlier this week, some newspaper editorials have advocated a presidential pardon. But the Chicago Tribune, a strong backer of George W. Bush in his campaigns for president, declared today, "That shouldn't happen."

The Philadelphia Inquirer stated: "There are persistent calls for Bush to pardon Libby. That would be as arrogant and improper as the original scheme. While Libby was undoubtedly following orders, his culpability remains. He lied to federal agents investigating one of the most reckless and potentially dangerous political hit jobs in years."

The Denver Post: "The question that now has Washington atwitter is whether Bush will pardon Libby and, if so, when. The case was embarrassing to the White House from the start, focusing attention on the administration's clumsy handling of the Iraq war and its critics. A pardon also would be damaging, despite what Libby supporters think."

The Los Angeles Times: "A pardon would be bad politics, deep injustice and an insult to the nation. Libby was convicted of a serious crime and sentenced in accordance with federal guidelines. President Bush has no legitimate reason to disturb that sentence."

USA Today: "Pardoning Libby would send a message that it's OK to attempt to thwart the criminal justice system if you're an important player in Washington. Washington already sends enough messages of that sort.

"A pardon would also say that people who work for the White House are above the law if they think they're doing the president's bidding, because the president could always let them off the hook."

The Chicago Tribune used the following arguments.


During his sentencing Tuesday, Libby neither acknowledged his crime nor expressed remorse....

But by his actions, Libby undermined the very system to which he dedicated his life. A jury found he did not allow the system to work to ferret out truth. He lied under oath. He lied repeatedly and boldly. He wasted federal investigators' time and resources. He obstructed justice....

A question for those who seek to spare Libby from prison for lying under oath -- what did you have to say when President Bill Clinton faced impeachment for lying under oath? Most likely, you wanted Clinton punished.

Thirty months (and a $250,000 fine) is a stiff sentence for Libby. He has a legal process to appeal. But Bush should steer clear of this matter. First, because he has a conflict of interest -- Libby was serving the political interests of the administration when he committed his crimes. Second, because a pardon would be as indefensible as some of the pardons Clinton issued as he exited the White House.

Bush shouldn't add to the taint -- now or in the final days of his term.


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