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The [Wednesday] Papers

"I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the principal architects of President Bush's foreign policy, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison for lying during a C.I.A. leak investigation that became part of a fierce debate over the war in Iraq," The New York Times reports.

"The sentence was several months longer than the minimum recommended by federal sentencing guidelines, based on what Judge [Reggie] Walton said was his agreement with prosecutors that Mr. Libby's crimes obscured an investigation into a serious matter and that his lies obliged the government to engage in a long and costly investigation that might have been avoided had he told the truth.

"If Mr. Libby goes to prison, he will be the first senior White House official to do so since the days of Watergate, when several of President Richard M. Nixon's top aides, including H. R. Haldeman and John D. Erlichman, served prison terms."

Pardon Pablum
For a bunch of law-and-order guys talking tough about national security and war, the Republican candidates for president are flummoxed by the Libby case and were wishy-washy at best in last night's debate on whether Libby ought to be pardoned - a lot of "we have to look at the transcript." But Rudy Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, really outdid the others. From The New York Times's transcript, edited for brevity.

MR. BLITZER: Congressman Hunter, do you think it would be appropriate for President Bush to pardon Lewis Scooter Libby?

REP. HUNTER: You know, I think, Wolf, to make a determination on that, you'd have to look at the transcript.

MR. BLITZER: I just want to do a quick yes or no, and I'm going to go down the rest of the group and let everybody just tell me yes or no, would you pardon Scooter Libby?


MR. GILMORE: No. I'm steeped in the law. I wouldn't do that.

REP. HUNTER: No, not without reading the transcript.

MR. HUCKABEE: Not without reading the transcript.

SEN. MCCAIN: He's going through an appeal process. We've got to see what happens here.

MR. GIULIANI: I think the sentence was way out of line. I mean, the sentence was grossly excessive in a situation in which at the beginning, the prosecutor knew who the leak was -

MR. BLITZER: So yes or no, would you pardon him?

MR. GIULIANI: - and he knew a crime wasn't committed. I recommended over a thousand pardons to President Reagan when I was associate attorney general. I would see if it fit the criteria for pardon. I'd wait for the appeal. I think what the judge did today argues more in favor of a pardon -

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

MR. GIULIANI: - because this is excessive punishment -

MR. BLITZER: All right.

MR. GIULIANI: - when you consider - I've prosecuted 5,000 cases -

MR. BLITZER: I'm trying to get a yes or no. (Laughter.)

MR. GIULIANI: Well, this is a very important issue. This is a very, very important - a man's life is at stake. And the reality is, this is an incomprehensible situation. They knew who the leak was - and ultimately, there was no underlying crime involved.

MR. BLITZER: All right.

MR. ROMNEY: This is one of those situations where I go back to my record as governor. I didn't pardon anybody as governor because I didn't want to overturn a jury.

But in this case, you have a prosecutor who clearly abused prosecutorial discretion by going after somebody when he already knew that the source of the leak was Richard Armitage. He'd been told that. So he went on a political vendetta.

MR. BLITZER: So is that a yes?

MR. ROMNEY: It's worth looking at that. I will study it very closely, if I'm lucky enough to be president, and I'd keep that option open.

MR. BLITZER: Senator?

SEN. BROWNBACK: Yes. The basic crime here didn't happen.

MR. BLITZER: All right.

SEN. BROWNBACK: What they were saying was that the identity of an agent was revealed

MR. BLITZER: Governor?

SEN. BROWNBACK: - but that agent has to be in the field for that to be a crime. That didn't occur.

MR. BLITZER: Governor?

MR. THOMPSON: Bill Clinton committed perjury in a grand jury - lost his law license. Scooter Libby got 30 months. To me, it's not fair at all. But I would make sure the appeal was done properly, and then I would examine the record.

MR. BLITZER: Congressman?



All right. We heard from all of them. (Applause.)

Points of Fact
* The idea that prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald "went on a political vendetta," as charged by Mitt Romney, is laughable on its face.

* The idea that there was no underlying crime is bogus on two levels. First, Libby is convicted of obstructing an investigation into the underlying alleged crime; his actions prevented prosecutors from determining if a crime was committed and by whom. Also, lying to federal agents to thwart an investigation is a crime regardless of the outcome.

* The idea that Fitzgerald knew who the leaker was - Armitage - supposes that Armitage acted alone and on his own information. We know conclusively this isn't the case.

* The idea, put forth by Brownback, that Plame wasn't undercover has not only been contradicted by the CIA and Plame herself, but now by Judge Walton.

* Finally, anyone who compares this case to Clinton trying to straddle the line about an affair ought to be automatically disqualified from the presidency.

Political Theater
As always, you can find the best debate coverage in the world here at the Beachwood. Check out what the Republican candidates had to say last night - and our responses - in our latest installment of Mystery Debate Theater.

Familiar Plot Line
"Alleged Plot Talk Hyped, Some Say."

Everyone except the Tribune editorial board saw that one coming.

Is Obama coming around on gay marriage?

Southern Discomfort
"Arkansas Gov Not Ready To Apologize For Slavery."

Says he has to look at the transcript.

"Obama has already made it clear that when it comes to uncomfortable questions, he's careful whom he's willing to be interviewed by," Carol Marin writes.

That's Neil!
"The concept of a 'hero' gets tossed around a lot. Sometimes aptly, sometimes it seems that no firefighter can pluck a cat out of a tree without being called a hero by somebody," Neil Steinberg writes this morning.

"That's why it struck me as odd that, after a four-person University of Michigan Hospitals organ transplant team plus two pilots were killed when their plane crashed into Lake Michigan Monday, the story was treated as a routine crash, as if they were businessmen on their way to fish to Idaho."

Tribune front page today: "On Mission To Save Life, 6 'Heroes' Lose Theirs."

On the other hand, Steinberg thinks the Tribune overplayed the story of Sam Zell buying the media company by placing it prominently on its front page. Because the fate of one of the nation's largest media companies whose products reach 80 percent of American households that also happens to be a 160-year-old local institution that sets the news agenda here and also happens to own the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Baltimore Sun and other newspapers and TV stations across the country and will now no longer be a public corporation and will sell the Chicago Cubs as part of the transaction really isn't that big a deal.

Status Quotient
Being Paul Green.

Dark Matter
Just to put things in perspective, the universe is expanding "beyond all understanding' and scientists are really bummed out.

The Beachwood Tip Line: A wave AND a particle.


Posted on June 6, 2007

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
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