62 thoughts on “The Libby Pardon Pool

  1. Heh. I said the exact same thing in the break room over lunch when I saw the news. If ever there was a situation where you would be more surprised to not see a presidential pardon, I think this is it.

  2. You think they’ll let Libby spend a year locked up? It’ll get pretty tough to convince others to their lips zipped if that’s the reward.

    If sentencing is in June, put me down for something in July. Let’s say noon on July 4, 2007; just for extra effect.

  3. Here’s a weird bit, I looked for Clinton pardons on Wikipedia just to see if he waited until his last day or not to pardon people and found this little factoid regarding the Marc Rich pardon:

    Several months after her [Marc's ex-wife] last donation, emails reveal Republican attorney “Scooter” Libby asked her to approach Clinton about pardoning Marc Rich..

    Just a weird bit of…well…something, I don’t know. Hilary isn’t so bad, but frankly, I’d like to see if we get the Executive Branch out of the hands of the Bush and Clinton spheres of power.

    Can you be pardoned if you’ve been impeached?

    If Bush gets impeached, Cheney becomes president, so yeah.

  4. Well, his lawyer is asking for a new trial (yeah, good luck with that) and when that fails he plans to appeal. My money is on the day after his appeal gets rejected – they wouldn’t want to risk him flipping…

  5. I doubt that President Bush will be impeached. The Democrats are gearing up to take back the presidency and, I think, an impeachment trial could really blow up in their faces. As we have seen, it is really difficult to convict a sitting president, no matter how much evidence you have (Whitewater). Obama and Clinton (or Clinton/Obama – Obama/Clinton) would fair much better to stand up against whoever the Republicans find to accept the nominatation than attempt any further public humiliation of President Bush. If he were tried and exhonerated, it would be like giving the Presidency to the Republicans. Bush (probably) is not the architect of a conspiracy to lie to the American people and drive up the price of oil. More than likely, he’s a Dufus. And we all know that we, the American people, don’t care about that. ;)

  6. 2009? Hell no. 4:50pm, Friday March 9, 2007. End of this week, right at the end of the news cycle.

    Bush won’t wait for appeals. He likes to reward loyalists immediately. He’s only waiting for the real reporters to start their weekend drinking.

    K

  7. No, no. Cheney can be impeached without having to impeach Bush first.

    In that case, we’ll see some elaborate plot that’ll end with Dennis Haysbert assuming control of the country. He’ll step up to the podium to say “you’re in good hands…” when the bomb goes off…

  8. Can you be pardoned if you’ve been impeached?

    Actually, no. Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution sez:

    “…he [the President] shall have power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

    However, with Cheney’s recent health issues and Fitzgerald warming up for his go at the Veep, I think Cheney’s going to resign within the next few months, just to save his ass.

  9. “As we have seen, it is really difficult to convict a sitting president, no matter how much evidence you have (Whitewater).”

    You may be right about it being hard to convicted a seated president, but Whitewater’s hardly to way to prove it. Olsen couldn’t anything there, and God knows he looked hard enough. That’s why he had to fall back on the Monica thing when Whitewater came up empty.

  10. Addendum: not that Cheney’s health is going to incapacitate him, but it’ll give him the cover he needs to resign with “honor,” or whatever the Fox crowd will call it.

    And, while I agree that it’d be a bad idea for the Dems to impeach Bush, I say go whole hog with the Veep.

  11. 11:30 am on Jan. 3, 2009. The next Congress kicks off at noon that day. Assumption is the Dems strengthen their presence on Capitol Hill and Bush/Cheney are impeached, convicted and in rehab/assisted living by the end of that week.

  12. 12:01 am, November 5, 2008. Election is over except for the lawsuits, so Bush will have nothing to lose.

  13. So if Bush is impeached and Cheney drops dead of a blood clot in his leg, that leaves Pelosi?

    There is some kind of hope.

    I guess.

  14. Btw, before I get skewered, cooked and eaten, let me clarify.

    There is some kind of hope, Scooter won’t get pardoned.

    But then again, anything can happen.

  15. Steve Buchheit
    “September 3, 2007, Labor Day, nobody will be watching the news.”
    Might as push it to Sept 4th my birthday. A fine present it would be.

  16. I say right after the big fear-mongering, election-skewing terrorist attack that’s been slated for October 2008. Barring that, I’m with Jeff. 12:01 am, November 5, 2008.

    I’m going to go hide now, there’s some men-in-black types knocking at my door, and they don’t look too happy. . .

  17. Pardon Libby? Morning of 20 January 2009, along with all the other necessary (but publicly unpleasant) pardons. Probably about 10AM, just before the president leaves for the Capitol. The West Wing got that part right.

    Impeachments? I don’t see it happening to either Bush of Cheney. As someone else said, now that the Democrats are in control of Congress, they’d better be able to guarantee a conviction if they impeach, and conviction requires two-thirds of the Senate; ain’t no way that’s happening. No, they’ll focus on bad stories in the press and running for office (rather than running the country).

  18. Man, Libby/Cheney speculations are all over the blog-o-sphere. I just made a completely “out of thin air” prediction on another friend’s blog, but I want to repeat it here (you’ve got a bigger audience, and I want the credit if it turns out to be true).

    I don’t see Cheney being impeached (see above), and doubt he’ll resign. But if death takes him, or he does use some spurious excuse to resign, who’s around to replace him? How about… President Bush Senior? He’s still eligible, and he would be a very interesting choice to be vice president to fill out the term.

  19. I’ll take the ‘no Pardon, overturned on appeal prior to end of Bush’s term’.

    More because it’s the largest unclaimed probability-space than anything else, but…

  20. Ian-

    I doubt GWB would nominate his own father, as it would be the final “I have to call my Daddy to bail my ass out” moment in a long, long chain of similar moments.

  21. I’m not in favor of the pardon. I think Libby likely lied and that he should serve his punishment. Lying is wrong.

    I also don’t beleive in the Bush Derangement Syndrome types who think that Plame was some bella of counterespionage or that the administration schemed to screw her over. This was all inside pool and Wilson/Plame were playing it too.

    I think that Libby should have told the truth. The reason he didn’t was too avoid embarresment more than to cover some dastardly “Shooter” plot or to avoid jail for the leaking. Fitz did not go after any of the others who confessed leaking (Armitage, etc.). Libby should have told the truth.

    This puts me at odds with 100% of liberals and with 99% of conservatives. However, I’m amazingly of the same opinion as reporters in DC, who know the inside story and feel as I do.

  22. My favorite quote comes from one of the jurors who asked, “Why are we going after this guy?” He clarified by saying that, from all the evidence, it was clear that there were bigger fish in the White House who were organizing the leak.

  23. Given Cheney’s recent DVT incident (you can hardly call Air Force 2 “economy class syndrome”…) I think the best approach is to get that man on a long plane flight stat!

    As for Libby I’ll go for Dec 31 2007, 3 PM.

  24. I also predict just before Bush leaves office, January 2009.

    It’s unlikely Skooter would see any jail time between now and then with appeals and whatnot. Besides, even if he does jail time, it’ll be at one of the nice jails high-ranking government employees go to.

  25. Marcus beat me to it. Look, the deal has to be that Libby would take the fall for Rove and Cheney provided he doesn’t spend a day in jail. Appeal will be done and rejected by June. And sentencing will come down after that. There is no way they want this to happen in 2008 because it hurts the Republicans for the election. Any jail time and Libby will be making that call to Patrick Fitzgerald so the pardon will come on July 6th (the Bushies love to drop bad news on a Friday) 2007.

  26. Anyone know what the “I” in I. ‘Scooter’ Libby stands for?

    My money’s on it being “Ignacious”

  27. TCO

    This puts me at odds with 100% of liberals and with 99% of conservatives. However, I’m amazingly of the same opinion as reporters in DC, who know the inside story and feel as I do.

    I’m with you. I initially thought that Libby was getting a bum deal. But then I heard a report about a juror who said that according to their calculations, Libby had heard about Plame 9 times before the interview with Matthews. I think it was stretching credibility to then claim he forgot.

    But clearly, he did not leak Plames name to the Media. We now know who did that. In fact, Fitzgerald knew it too and one has to one why he continued the investigation when a) he knew it was Armitage b) he knew Plame was not undercover and c) he knew that Wilson had lied in his op-ed piece to begin with.

    But when you play power politics, you better be ready for the consequences.

  28. The idea that a long-term loyalist like Libby would suddenly flip and cause deeper problems for Cheney or Bush just to avoid a one or two year sentence in a low-security prison is laughable. He might be pissed about it, and he might write a nasty tell-all memoir ten or twenty years from now, but in the short term he’ll sit tight and shut up, and after he is pardoned or does his time he will be rewarded for his silence.

    I’m also curious just what dirt exactly relative to this case people think Libby has on Cheney et. al.? Armitage leaked Plame’s name to Novak, and possibly others. Scooter leaked it to Matt Cooper and Judith Miller. Ari Fleischer leaked it to at least two other reporters. Since none of them have been indicted for the actual leaking, why would Cheney trying to push things behind the scenes be worthy of criminal charges?

  29. CoolBlue

    “But clearly, he did not leak Plames name to the Media. We now know who did that. In fact, Fitzgerald knew it too and one has to one why he continued the investigation when a) he knew it was Armitage b) he knew Plame was not undercover and c) he knew that Wilson had lied in his op-ed piece to begin with.”

    Well, yeah, we all know that it was Armitage that finally made the score by getting Novak to print it. But Scooter was involved in the push to get her name in the press and as it came out in the testimony Scooter was pushing to leak her name he could only have done more by making it into a banner and flying it from the Whitehouse flag poles.

    And if your B point was true then the CIA was way out of line for requesting this special prosecution for the outing of their covert agent.

    An C, I just have no idea where you go that idea.

    Libby got what he deserved. He lied. He lied blatantly. And he lied for no good reason.

  30. Steve Buchheit

    But Scooter was involved in the push to get her name in the press and as it came out in the testimony Scooter was pushing to leak her name he could only have done more by making it into a banner and flying it from the Whitehouse flag poles.

    Clearly. Seeing as how Wilson claimed it was Cheney that sent him to Niger, Libby was part of the effort to correct the record: that it was the CIA, and specifically his wife, that sent him, not Cheney.

    if your B point was true then the CIA was way out of line for requesting this special prosecution for the outing of their covert agent.

    Well that should be obvious given that Armitage isn’t under indictment, eh?

    An C, I just have no idea where you go that idea.

    1) Wilson claimed Cheney sent him Niger. It is now a matter of record that he didn’t and that Valerie Plame did.

    2) Wilson claimed he found no evidence that Iraq attempted to buy yellow cake from Niger. But it is now a matter of public record that in his trip report to the CIA he stated that Iraq did, in fact, attempt to buy yellow cake but Niger turned them down.

    Those are willful mistruths: i.e. lies.

    Libby got what he deserved. He lied. He lied blatantly. And he lied for no good reason.

    Can’t argue with that. And I will stress “he lied for no good reason.”

  31. I can’t put a date on it, but it’ll be on a Friday afternoon just when something really big happens. Anna Nicole will be dramatically revealed to be still dead, cough*scooterlibbyispardoned*cough, and everybody’s chocolate ration will be doubled.

  32. At this point, isn’t “Bush Derangement Syndrome” the delusional condition of believing that Bush & co. aren’t criminally incompetent, malevolent, just plain criminal or any combination thereof?

  33. Put me down for the week after the November election of 2008.

    (I think it will be later, but those slots are taken; and, hey, that’s when he fired Rumsfeld.)

    Doug M.

  34. Oh. I guess to be in the spirit of the thread, I should give my pardon prediction.

    If it were me, consideration of a pardon would depend entirely on the sentence. Any thing over two years in jail and I would pardon the guy. Anything under 18 months and I’d leave it alone.

    I’m guessing Libby will serve a couple of months in jail, maybe up to a year on probation. Something like that.

    Under these conditions, I doubt Bush will pardon him.

  35. Wilson claimed Cheney sent him to Niger.

    Are you thinking of this portion of Wilson’s original NYT piece?

    In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney’s office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990’s. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president’s office.

    It does not say what you think it says.

  36. I agree with you that Wilson’s wording is more reasonable in this article than some seek to portray it. However, it is also a fact that Cheney had no idea who the hell Wilson was and was amazed (as any rational person would be) that the CIA sent someone pro bono, the husband of an employee (potential nepotism), and without a secrecy agreement, on an intel gathering mission. It’s also true that Cheney’s request for more info happened one day after Wilson’s name was put in by Plame (although it’s reasonable to assume that the request may have been cited later by CIA managers to give more ooomph to the project).

    Wilson DID SAY that Valerie Plame had “nothing to do with” him going on the trip. This is patently false–she was the one who suggested his name to her supervisors. In addition, Wilson cited knowledge of the forged document (which his wife was briefed on, but which he not cleared to see). When confronted with this, he said, “I must have been confused”.

    I’m not sure to what extent Wilson/Plame pillow-talk for inside politics was going on and to what extent, Wilson has tried to make himself more important (he is a blowhard). None of this excuses revealing classified information (even if Plame was not “covert”, she was “classified”). Nor even if that was done (or if no crime occured), is lying about it excusable. So Libby should face the music.

  37. TCO, actually, Valerie’s only involvement was being tasked by her supervisor to find out if he was available and willing to do the fact gathering mission. He had performed two missions for the CIA before. Wilson had the contacts, the background, and the experience to perform the mission. And Wilson only went public when he saw that the administration was spreading lies.

    Also, the whole directorate she worked for was considered covert.

  38. TCO, the obvious reason to send Wilson was that he had diplomatic experience in the region. IIRC, in the next country over. You see, some of the CIA/State Department guys are Evul Librulz who believe in competancy, experience, and communist ideas like that.

    CosmicDog:

    “As we have seen, it is really difficult to convict a sitting president, no matter how much evidence you have (Whitewater). ”

    It has been covered before, but bears repeating, until everybody has gotten the actual history correct: The Clintons were cleared of any wrongdoing in the Whitewater matter by the first Republican prosecutor; Starr then re-opened the case, keeping it open for six years or more, before also finding nada. Whitewater was an excuse for the GOP to conduct an on-going investigation, nothing more.

  39. Since nobody else has taken it, I’ll call the week between Christmas and New Years Eve, 2008.

    Just like dear old Daddy.

    Of course, it *does* depend on the sentencing, and how bad everything else is going.

  40. Buchheit:

    That has been asserted but not proved (her superior suggested it). I have heard the opposite as well. Or that she suggested it to her superior, who THEN directed her to see if he was available. Is there something definitive to resolve this?

    I don’t know about her “whole directorate”. But herself, she worked at Langly, which is abnormal for a covert agent. The rules for covert are very specific and include overseas posting in last X years, etc. Being in a directorate is not part of the legal definition of covert for the specific crime. (On “your side” she did still have some cover for taxes. On my side, having a husband who goes on CIA missions and then publishes about it, is not very good for keeping covert status…not legally, just efficacy-wise.)

    Note of interest, Armitage, Libby, Rove, and Fleisher were all NOT charged with IIPA violation and that Fitz did NOT establish legally (or even assert in the trial) that she was covert (as opposed to classified). I suspect the reason for this is that it was a pretty grey area and that she had been covert at one time, but had a lot of actions which confused the issue or compromised her covertness enough that an IIPA filing would not win legally (otherwise Fitz would have brought it).

    Also, runnning a Vanity Fair article is not exactly the act of someone who values their covert or classified status. (And I disdain the argument that her status was “blown” so she “might as well”. I’ve had TS SCI status and served for several years and always heard and took the moral attitude that even if someone discusses in the opene literature something classified, you don’t confirm it. Plame looked pretty hungry for the spotlight to me…)

    However, I think the conservatives who say she definitely wasn’t covert (check out JustOneMinute) are just as wrong as the liberals who say the opposite. Not established, means not established. It could be one way or the other. Some people have the hardest time understanding this subtle idea. They think they have proven the verse if their opponenent has not proven the converse. When it really is open. But their little heads can’t deal with it.

  41. Kip W

    You are correct and I overstated the situation. In this particular area, Wilson was careful. But over and over again he implied that he was on that trip at the Vice Presidents request. Forinstance, on Meet The Press, July 6, 2003, he said, “The office of the Vice President, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked and that response was based upon my trip out there.”

    But the Senate Select Committee’s report on Pre-war Intelligence stated “The former ambassador’s public comments suggesting that the Vice President had been briefed on the information gathered during his trip is not correct, however. While the CIA responded to the Vice President’s request for the Agency’s analysis, they never provided the
    information gathered by the former Ambassador.”

    Steve Buchheit

    Valerie’s only involvement was being tasked by her supervisor to find out if he was available and willing to do the fact gathering mission.

    This is incorrect. The Senate Select Committee’s report on Pre-war Intelligence concluded “The former ambassador’s wife suggested her husband for the trip to Niger in February 2002. The former ambassador had traveled previously to Niger on behalf of the CIA, also at the suggestion of his
    wife, to look into another matter not related to Iraq. On February 12, 2002, the former ambassador’s wife sent a memorandum to a Deputy
    Chief of a division in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations which said, “[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and
    the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.”

    Wilson only went public when he saw that the administration was spreading lies.

    This is also incorrect. It was Wilson that was consistently lying.

    Again from the Senate Select Committee’s report on Pre-war Intelligence

    During Mr. Wilson’s media blitz, he appeared on more than thirty television shows including entertainment venues. Time and again, Joe Wilson told anyone who would listen that the President had lied to the American people, that the Vice President had lied, and that he had “debunked” the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. As discussed in the Niger section of the report, not only did he NOT “debunk” the claim, he actually gave some intelligence analysts even more reason to believe that it may be true. I believed very strongly that it was important for the Committee to conclude publicly that many of the statements made by Ambassador Wilson were not only incorrect, but had no basis in fact.

    In an interview with Committee staff, Mr. Wilson was asked how he knew some of the things he was stating publicly with such confidence. On at least two occasions he admitted that he had no direct knowledge to support some of his claims and that he was drawing on either unrelated past experiences or no information at all. For example, when asked how he “knew” that the Intelligence Community had rejected the possibility of a Niger-Iraq uranium deal, as he wrote in his book, he told Committee staff that his assertion may have involved “a little literary flair.”

    The former Ambassador, either by design or through ignorance, gave the American people and, for that matter, the world a version of events that was inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and misleading. Surely, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has unique access to all of the facts, should have been able to agree on a conclusion that would correct the public record. Unfortunately, we were unable to do so.

  42. Barry: I’m well aware of Wilson’s previous AFrica experience. I’m not crazy about the CIA using spouses (who have commercial interests in being business facilitators) in this manner. Esepcially when they don’t sign NDAs, reveal intel-gathering methods, and don’t provide written reports. The thing smells of nepotism and insider games.

  43. Turns out all this betting might be moot. From the DoJ’s Rules Governing Petitions for Executive Clemency (http://www.usdoj.gov/pardon/clemency.htm#pardon), section 1.2 sez:

    § 1.2 Eligibility for filing petition for pardon.

    No petition for pardon should be filed until the expiration of a waiting period of at least five years after the date of the release of the petitioner from confinement or, in case no prison sentence was imposed, until the expiration of a period of at least five years after the date of the conviction of the petitioner. Generally, no petition should be submitted by a person who is on probation, parole, or supervised release.

    It’s interesting that should is there instead of shall. Should means wiggle room (or, in the case of the Bush Administration, not giving a stony rat’s ass about the rules and doing its own thing anyway).

  44. CoolBlue, I’m sorry, are you quoting from the opinion letters attached to the report, because I’m not finding these conclusions in the report itself, or in the findings of fact. A Senator, or Senators, personal attachments do not carry the weight of the report that was approved. If the senators feel Abassador Wilson lied to them under oath, that’s a federal crime. They should prosecute. But they know they don’t have the case.

    But this is all besides the point. The point is that a jury found that Mr. Libby lied to a grand jury and was guilty of obstruction of justice while that grand jury was investigating a very serious breach of security.

  45. I think we all agree with that. Even if you were to concede the points on Wilson, it would not change Libby’s lying.

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