No Sorrow for Libby

by | Mar 6, 2007 | Stress Blog | 8 comments

Lew Rockwell, and now Bill Anderson, have written reactions to the conviction of Scooter Libby on the LRC blog. More will likely be coming from the LRC bloggers on that topic. Lew stated:

I know that Scooter Libby, like any high-ranking apparatchik, has blood on his hands. Still, I find it hard to celebrate his conviction. First, punishing anyone for the crime of naming a CIA spy violates the first amendment. Second, he was not accused of this offense, but of lying to the FBI, etc. about it.

At’s blog, Matt Barganier responded:

the fact that Libby was convicted of perjury and such instead of mass murder, which he is certainly an accomplice to, should be filed under ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck.’ It’s as if Charles Manson had simply been convicted of hate speech for carving that wacky swastika on his forehead: I’d be against the law, but I wouldn’t be out holding a candlelight vigil for the defendant.

Etc, etc. – you get the idea. Here’s the problem with Barganier’s reasoning. Forget Libby, forget the Administration, to Hell with it. What happens if Fitzgerald or his ilk come after someone we like? What if they come after Barganier (who I like, BTW) next? We cannot set loose the broken machinery of the US legal system and demand that it only attack those we dislike, or those we oppose politically, even if we feel they’re guilty of greater offenses. It’s hypocritical to expect only our enemies to be attacked under such conditions.
Libby was convicted of lying to the FBI, and of obstructing a meaningless investigation. The investigation of the Plame affair was meaningless because it yielded neither charges nor convictions. Fitzgerald prosecuted Libby for his conduct during the investigation, not for Libby’s actions during the Plame affair, which were, if anything, revealed as law-abiding (inasmuch as they drew no criminal charges).
None of this means, however, that I have any sympathy or feel any sorrow for Libby. He is, as Barganier correctly points out, a mass-murderer, because of his role in the attack on Iraq. Charge him with that crime, and I will applaud. While you’re at it, charge the entire Executive Branch. Charge everyone that’s ever worked for a US administration, everyone that’s ever served in Congress and voted for murderous policies, every soldier that’s ever carried those policies out; all have blood on their hands.
Yes, I know that will “never happen”. It will never happen, at any rate, while the justice system in the US is so broken it spends its time prosecuting imaginary “crimes” while allowing real atrocities to go unchecked. Which also gets to the point I think Lew was making, and Bill Anderson has been making for the past year regarding the Duke Lacrosse situation.
Let’s deal with the charges Libby was convicted on. Lying to the FBI and obstructing justice. It should not be a crime to lie to the FBI. There, I said it. To Hell with the FBI and all organizations like it. You’ll think that’s an outrageous statement until they show up at your door wanting answers (would it be so outrageous if Hoover was still in charge of it?) The obstruction charge is totally illogical. Unless there’s an underlying crime that the investigation produces, how can anyone be guilty of obstructing justice? For instance, if someone had been charged with murder, and a witness had lied to investigators about the crime, then the witness would legitimately be guilty of obstructing justice. In this case, no one has been charged with an underlying crime. Justice cannot have been obstructed by anyone.
You can, if you’re lazy and disingenuous, call all of this a defense of Libby. This is an attack on the Injustice System in the United States, a system that convicted Libby, a mass-murderer, leaving his superiors untouched, of imaginary crimes to feed prosecutorial egos. Take it also as a criticism of the short-sightedness of those I normally agree with, for cheerleading this foolishness.
Footnotes: Libby’s case is very similar in many respects to the Martha Stewart case – the charges are identical, with the absence of an underlying crime. See Paul Craig Roberts’ articles here, here, and here, amongst many others. Bill Anderson’s initial reaction to the Libby indictment can be read here. I tried explaining all of this to Roberts awhile back in an email exchange, but he didn’t go along with it, for reasons that in my subjective opinion he failed to adequately articulate. The modern legal definition of obstruction of justice can be read here. I disagree with its scope, for reasons already articulated.
EDIT: I forgot to link to Matt’s original post about this, so I just added it above. Here it is again.

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