Is Scooter Libby really going to jail now? Today a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, turned down Libby’s request to remain free on bond while his attorneys appeal his conviction on obstruction of justice charges. In a two-sentence ruling, the three judges said that Libby “has not shown that the appeal raises a substantial [legal] question.” This means that Libby will have to report to a federal penitentiary as soon as the Bureau of Prisons finds a spot for him, and that could occur within weeks.
Libby’s defenders–the folks who claimed he was wrongfully investigated, then wrongfully indicted, then wrongfully convicted by a jury, then wrongfully sentenced to 30 months and a $250,000 fine–will no doubt say this matter was wrongfully decided by these three judges (one of whom was a Ronald Reagan appointee and one of whom was a George H.W. Bush appointee). But (hopeless) legal arguments aside, this ruling will cause the neocons (and their conservative allies) to intensify the campaign for a Libby pardon. (I recently detailed the Let Libby Go crusade here.) Now the Libby Lobby will pump up the volume, pressing George W. Bush to intervene.
Libby’s champions seem to be motivated, in part, by an intense sense of personal betrayal. Libby partisans have essentially accused Bush of being an ingrate and coward for not rushing to the rescue of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff. With the clock ticking on Jail Day for Libby, the Save Scooter advocates can be expected to voice further their frustration and resentment.
Will Bush yield? There’s no telling. So far he’s kept his distance from the Libby case–which stands as a reminder that Bush led the nation to an unpopular war on the basis of misrepresentations and false statements. But one thing’s for sure: if Bush doesn’t pardon this former White House aide, he will receive plenty of abuse from people who once hailed him for initiating the war they had craved for years. The pro-war neocons often appear distant from the disastrous consequences of the invasion of Iraq, including the civilian casualties of the war. But when it comes to the plight of Libby, an architect of the war convicted of lying, they feel his pain so passionately. We are all Scooter!, they practically proclaim. And in a way, they’re right.
JUST OUT IN PAPERBACK: HUBRIS: THE INSIDE STORY OF SPIN, SCANDAL, AND THE SELLING OF THE IRAQ WAR by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. The paperback edition of this New York Times bestseller contains a new afterword on George W. Bush’s so-called surge in Iraq and the Scooter Libby trial. The Washington Post said of Hubris: “Indispensable….This [book] pulls together with unusually shocking clarity the multiple failures of process and statecraft.” The New York Times called it, “The most comprehensive account of the White House’s political machinations…fascinating reading.” Tom Brokaw praised it as “a bold and provocative book.” Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor of The New Yorker notes, “The selling of Bush’s Iraq debacle is one of the most important–and appalling–stories of the last half-century, and Michael Isikoff and David Corn have reported the hell out of it.” For highlights from Hubris, click here.