Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Safire on presidential pardons


Conservative columnist William Safire had his ire up over presidential pardons in 2001.

Result: the most flagrant abuse of the presidential pardon power in U.S. history. Even Clinton stalwarts are openly disgusted at their man's departing display of shamelessness. But Rich's hired guns in public relations and the law will soon claim that ''every president did it'' or that ''Rich was persecuted by evil prosecutors.''

How can Clinton's final presidential wrong be righted? A constitutional amendment to restrict the undemocratic kingly power is far off, and this unpardonable pardon can never be undone. But though justice in this case is denied, truth can be served, and the truth can hurt Rich and the perpetrators of his pardon.

Congressional hearings will begin next week to determine how the end run was made around all normal procedures. To display nonpartisanship, Dan Burton's Government Reform Committee should call a predecessor chairman, John Conyers, who held hearings a decade ago into Republican failures to bring Rich to trial.

A threshold question: Why did Clinton decide the case on a one-sided presentation by Rich's lawyer, Quinn, with no analysis from Justice's pardon attorney, Roger Adams? Why was Rich's prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, Mary Jo White, kept in the dark rather than asked for her rebuttal?

Safire was writing about Clinton's shameful pardoning of billionaire fugitive Marc Rich. But isn't it interesting how many of the same criticisms apply to President Bush's pardon of Lewis Libby.

Note the similarities:

1. The claims of "everybody does it" and that Libby was "persecuted by evil prosecutors."

2. The threshold question. Why did Bush decided the case after a one-sided consultation with a few close aides? Why was Libby's prosecutor kept in the dark rather than asked for his rebuttal?

Safire supported Congressional hearings into how the pardon was made.

I wonder two things: If Bush supporters will admit the parallels, and if Safire will call for the same treatment this time around (though that might not be a fair thing to ask for, considering he hung up his columnist hat a couple of years ago).

I'm not holding my breath.

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So? That works both ways. You want us to do now what you and other Democrats did NOT do to Clinton back then. Surely you don't deny that MOST Democrats defended Clinton back then for what he did?

JP5

7/03/2007 10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AND surely you do not compare a man who committed the biggest tax fraud in the history of the United States, who flaunted the system and who fled the country to avoid prosecution to a man who got mixed up a couple of times on a testimony about something that had occurred two years before and had no reason to lie about because it was a non-crime?

JP5

7/03/2007 11:07 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

So? That works both ways.

Indeed it does.

You want us to do now what you and other Democrats did NOT do to Clinton back then. Surely you don't deny that MOST Democrats defended Clinton back then for what he did?

I have no idea what "most Democrats" did back then, and couldn't care less. I thought the Marc Rich pardon was indefensible. I thought the mad rush of last-minute pardons was a bad idea in general.

FWIW, the New York Times thought the Clinton pardons -- and Rich's in particular -- were awful, too, calling the Rich pardon "a shocking abuse of presidential power."

AND surely you do not compare a man who committed the biggest tax fraud in the history of the United States, who flaunted the system and who fled the country to avoid prosecution to a man who got mixed up a couple of times on a testimony about something that had occurred two years before and had no reason to lie about because it was a non-crime?

Your spin aside, I don't compare the crimes -- though it would be interesting to discuss which is worse: financial shenanigans or aiding a national security coverup.

I'm simply noting the similar treatment -- a decision made in secrecy, ignoring the usual processes and courtesies, and justified with cries of "political persecution" and such.

7/03/2007 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See. There ya go. That's what Dems do best. They downplay it as just "financial shenanigans" when it was someone a Democrat President pardoned, but it was "aiding a national security coverup" when it was a Republican President who commuted a sentence. It's like Sandy Burglar being only "sloppy" in stealing highly classified documents, hiding them, retreiving them later and intentionally destroying them!

FYI, there was no national security breach EVER proven....no crime even established... and had it been a national security breach, Richard Armitage would be in jail right now. So would the guy inside the CIA who confirmed the information to Novak. Fitzgerald didnt' even try to prove the crime existed during the trial and the ONLY time he even mentioned her status was when he sought to get a tougher sentence. In other words, he sought a sentence for a crime that was never even charged, much less proven in court. Amazing abuse of powers.

And curiouisly, for all the Dems yelling now, I see NO CALLS for Armitage to be arrested.

JP5

7/04/2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

See. There ya go. That's what Dems do best. They downplay it as just "financial shenanigans" when it was someone a Democrat President pardoned, but it was "aiding a national security coverup" when it was a Republican President who commuted a sentence.

Considering I've already said that the Rich pardon was inexcusable, your point is false.

FYI, there was no national security breach EVER proven....

Other than outing a covert agent, you mean....

no crime even established..

True. Thought that's a different thing than asserting no crime occurred.

and had it been a national security breach, Richard Armitage would be in jail right now.

No, because once again, as you already know, it's only a crime if he *knew* Plame was covert.

In other words, he sought a sentence for a crime that was never even charged, much less proven in court. Amazing abuse of powers.

Are you capable of making an argument without massive doses of spin?

Because Libby wasn't charged with outing Plame, that didn't come up at trial. However, Plame *was* outed. And Libby *was* convicted of lying during that investigation. Fitzgerald sought a stiffer sentence for Libby because his lies obstructed a major investigation. IOW, someone who lies to cover up a national security violation should be punished more severely than someone who lies about his neighbor's pot stash.

And curiouisly, for all the Dems yelling now, I see NO CALLS for Armitage to be arrested.

Because he didn't lie to a grand jury about his role.

7/04/2007 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Outing a covert agent" wasn't even a part of Fitzgerald's case. If someone was outed, he never even charged anybody with it; much less proved they did it.

And all you are saying is that, "I cannot stand the Bush administration and so someone there must have knowingly outed a CIA agent....even though I have absolutely no proof of such." But you DO know that Armitage was the leaker to Novak....which was what the whole thing was supposed to be about in the first place.

Ari Fleischer, who was given immunity to testify, said that he didn't know Plame was covert and he did NOT believe that Libby did either. So, you must give them the same break you willingly give to Richard Armitage.

The ONLY reason Cheney, Libby and other White House officials were even discussing Wilson's wife.....was because in his first article Wilson falsely claimed that the VP's office sent him to Niger. Because of that false claim, ALL the reporters were asking Cheney, "Well, if you didn't send him, them who did???" He said, "We're looking into that now." And so was every reporter. That's how Novak found the answer through Armitage and then had it verified through a CIA spokeman. IF she was covert at the time (I still don't believe she was)....NO one....not even the CIA, seemed to know it. So, why in the world would you imply that the WH knew????? Only because you WANT it to be so...does NOT make it so.

JP5

7/04/2007 11:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

"Outing a covert agent" wasn't even a part of Fitzgerald's case. If someone was outed, he never even charged anybody with it; much less proved they did it.

An agent was outed; that much is beyond dispute. The only question is whether the outing was deliberate or accidental. Evil or stupid; take your pick.

And all you are saying is that, "I cannot stand the Bush administration and so someone there must have knowingly outed a CIA agent....even though I have absolutely no proof of such."

You must be referring to someone else -- or inventing strawmen. I've never made that claim.

IF she was covert at the time (I still don't believe she was)...

The CIA says so, Fitzgerald says so, nobody involved in the case denies it. You need to get over the idea that she wasn't covert.

NO one....not even the CIA, seemed to know it. So, why in the world would you imply that the WH knew?????

Again, I have never said they knew. I've said they ought to have known -- ought to have checked things out before bandying around the name of a CIA agent. But I've never asserted they knew. Neither case -- they knew, they didn't know -- has been proven.

Please tailor your arguments to the person you're talking to, instead of setting up and knocking down generalized strawmen.

7/05/2007 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"An agent was outed; that much is beyond dispute. The only question is whether the outing was deliberate or accidental. Evil or stupid; take your pick."

The outing was done by Joseph Wilson himself....and his wife. When they had breakfast in May of 2003 with NYTimes' Nicholas Kristoff and fed him their lies about classified information and then made the false claim that it was the VP's office who sent him! That's how it all started. And so when the public read the story, all the reporters were asking Cheney, "Well you say you don't know who this is or who sent them....then who is it and who sent him?" Cheney told them he'd try to find out. Plus, all the reporters themsleves were trying to find out who it was.

This entire case was handled badly by Fitzgerald who should have examined the Wilson's.

If the White House "ought" to have known they were not allowed to discuss someone who had lied about them....then surely the Joe Wilson and his CIA wife should have known that it was wrong to go to the press with their lies. Lies that were proven to be lies during the Senate Joint Hearings.

And you're right....nothing was proven. No crime.

JP5

7/05/2007 6:43 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

The outing was done by Joseph Wilson himself....and his wife. When they had breakfast in May of 2003 with NYTimes' Nicholas Kristoff and fed him their lies about classified information....

That's an incredible amount of whole cloth you've spun out of practically nothing. Plame was asked about the breakfast during her Congressional testimony. There's zero evidence that the breakfast involved anything other than Wilson talking to Kristof about his Niger findings. In particular, there's no evidence that Plame revealed she worked for the CIA. Here is what Kristof wrote after that breakfast.

Beyond that, Kristof didn't publish Plame's identity; Novak did. And the Wilsons weren't among Novak's sources.

and then made the false claim that it was the VP's office who sent him!

That wasn't a lie; Wilson was under the impression that that was the case. And in a manner of speaking, it was. The Veep asked the CIA to check out the Niger reports; the CIA sent Wilson. Wilson thought the Veep's office knew why he had been sent; but apparently the CIA didn't tell Cheney that.

This entire case was handled badly by Fitzgerald who should have examined the Wilson's.

While I would have had no objection to interviewing them, why would Fitzgerald think they would have any idea who outed them? If the trail led to them, fine; but nobody claimed that the Wilsons told them about it.

7/05/2007 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Problem is----that envoy (Wilson) never debunked anything. That was proven before the Senate in the summer of 2004. He never even saw the documents, so how could he debunk them? When asked about telling a reporter that he had---he claimed he must have gotten confused. Yeah, right.

It doesn't matter that she might not have revealed to Kristoff she worked at the CIA. She sat right there beside her husband and knowingly participated in the lies he was feeding Kristof. Not to mention the classified CIA information he was leaking----with her approval. She was at a minimum complicent in his act.

Neither was Libby or anyone in the Bush administration Novak's source. Richard Armitage from the State Dept was. AND he wasn't even a supporter of the war.

"That wasn't a lie; Wilson was under the impression that that was the case. And in a manner of speaking, it was. The Veep asked the CIA to check out the Niger reports; the CIA sent Wilson. Wilson thought the Veep's office knew why he had been sent; but apparently the CIA didn't tell Cheney that."

Oh yes it WAS a lie. You are quick to say that Libby's mixing up some timelines in his testimony was a lie. But Wilson gets a break with you. In fact, Wilson's oral report back to the CIA actually confirmed what the Bush administration believed and that's why the CIA didn't even write up a formal report. Because they considered his trip a rather non-event. So, for Wilson to claim to reporters that he actually debunked the Niger claim was an outright LIE. When someone lies about you, I think you have a right to defend yourself.

"...nobody claimed that the Wilson's told them about it." Why would they? Kristof is a liberal writer who is on their side of things. He would never let on that he knew who she worked for and that she had anything to do with sending Wilson. And what's more---Fitzgerald wasn't about to put him under oath and ask him, now was he? You see----it could very well have gone all the way back to those two. But nobody bothered to find out. Nobody was interested. Why???? Because it wouldn't have fit with trying to hang it on someone inside the WH....which was the Wilson's plan all along.

It's so much easier to do something like the Wilson's did...when you have the willing liberal press assisting you.

JP5

7/07/2007 5:20 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Problem is----that envoy (Wilson) never debunked anything.

Uh, so? I'm not defending Wilson. It isn't about Wilson.

Although I'll note that many of your points are Republican or right-wing talking points that have been disputed -- for instance, here and Wilson's own point-by-point rebuttal here.

Neither was Libby or anyone in the Bush administration Novak's source. Richard Armitage from the State Dept was. AND he wasn't even a supporter of the war.

Novak cited two sources. I believe the other one was identified as Rove.

7/09/2007 10:23 AM  

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