I. Lewis Libby: The Ticking Time Bomb.
Will Scooter Libbey Obtain A Presidential Pardon For Himself Like His Former Client Marc Rich Received From President Clinton.
On October 28,2005 I. Lewis Libbey was indicted on five counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.(click here). On November 3, 2005 he pled not guilty at his arraignment and demanded a jury trial.
Will this case ever go to trial? Probably not because prominent members of the Administration would be called and forced to testify under oath. Also there are classified documents involved, according to Prosecutor Fitzgerald, which will require declassification or special handling by the court. The witnesses could include Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfield, Karl Rove and many others including possibly George Bush. Further it would involve the way that the Weapons of Mass Destruction argument was created and disseminated to the public as justification for the war including who authorized it, who knew it was based on false facts, inadequate information or guesswork.
A trial would be very embarrassing for the Administration and it could lead to further indictments. Therefore Libbey is likely to plea to the counts against him. However this could be devastating for him personally. He would have to serve time in jail and would either have his license to practice law suspended or revoked. His other alternative is to give a complete account of what he knows about the Wilson-Plame case and the propaganda build up for the Iraqi war. This may include giving incriminating information against other members of the Administration including Rove and Cheney. This would be a devastating event for the Administration and it could lead to a meltdown of the Presidency of George Bush as happened in the Watergate case with Richard Nixon. John Dean told every thing he knew when confronted by a Congressional subpoena and the knowledge that Nixon had taped all conversations taking place in the Oval Office. It is doubtful Libbey will do this.
Is A Presidential Pardon An Option?
More likely Libbey’s lawyers will allow him to plead guilty and hope for a quid pro quo from the Administration in the form of a pardon. This is also dangerous ground because it could involve obstruction of justice if a promise is given before Libbey is convicted. Therefore it would have to be an expectation on Libbey’s part that in return for his silence he would later receive a full pardon when Bush leaves office. However he would have no prior guarantee. Clinton did this with Susan McDougal but she still had to spend eighteen months in prison and there was no guarantee that she would ever receive a pardon until Clinton signed the paperwork on the day he left office.
Of course such a pardon would would create a public relations uproar worse than when Clinton Pardoned Marc Rich. Marc Rich was the commodities trader who fled the country when he was indicted for tax evasion and for trading (Oil) with Iran during the Iran Hostage crisis. The pardon application was handled by Jack Quinn another lawyer but, Libbey had been Marc Rich’s lawyer for a number of years. Also when President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon there was a furor in the press but it is the president’s prerogative to pardon who he wishes. In Ford’s case he ran again for president and was not reelected so the pardon may have cost him the office. Bush is not going to run again but someone in the Republican Party will and he may have to answer for any pardon. It should be noted that neither H. R. Haldeman orJohn Ehrlichman, Nixon’s top aides, recieved a pardon from Ford or any later president. It seems they were out of the loop once they were forced from office.
If Libbey will not plea bargain for a reduced sentence in exchange for a John Dean like narrative of events he will have to either go to trial or plead guilty to the five counts and be sentenced accordingly perhaps receiving as long as ten years in federal prison. The pardon opt out seems the easiest way to go for the Administration. However as said an agreement to do this beforehand would expose those involved to further obstruction of justice charges.
Whatever Libbey does it will be a Hobson’s Choice resulting in either disaster for the Administration or himself or both. This is why Bush admits this is a serious matter. He may have to cut Karl Rove loose to distance himself from the case as Rove admits he told columnist Robert Novak that Joseph Wilson’s wife was a CIA employee This case could lead to the resignation of Vice President Cheney and Bush, himself, if not handled properly.(click here).
Libbey is a ticking time bomb for this Administration.