Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Moral Imperative to Pardon Scooter Libby and the Message That Needs to be Sent by Doing So

If one analyzes the facts behind the case of I. Lewis Libby, the need to pardon Scooter Libby increasingly becomes as clear as day. To begin with, members of the jury have spoken about how the entire jury were eager to see Karl Rove testify. They also felt that Libby was sacrificed to protect Rove. None of this would be relevant except it shows something about the jury which the President, who has full pardon power, has the duty to rectify. Karl Rove's involvement, if any, was not a factor in the prosecution. In other words it wasn't a factor in the case. Yet the jury, as soon as it knew that it would be given a case involving a White House aid, considered Karl Rove a guilty party. They've freely admitted this in spite of hearing no evidence that would so much as cause reason to believe that Rove committed a crime. In other words, they were biased to the point that as soon as they heard that a top White House aid was on trial, even before opening statements had begun (as by their own admission they had these thoughts as soon as they knew which trial they were being called to sit on), they had already ascertained Karl Rove's guilt. The only question, as far as they were concerned, was whether Scooter Libby was a part of a crime that in their minds had definitely occurred even before hearing a shred of evidence.

This type of jury is hardly what can be called a "jury of ones peers" and goes against the very foundation of and principal reason for trial by jury. Juries are selected in the hope that peers will not be biased. Indeed, if bias is proven or reasonably suspected, the law dictates that the verdict be thrown out. While this is the case here, that has yet to happen. In fact, the bias was so egregious in this case that despite the fact that some jury members expressed sympathy for Libby, they still saw him as being part of a plot "designed" by Rove. This, without Rove's involvement in any crime ever having been brought up, much less proven. According to their own words, Libby was guilty of being complicit in a plot. But the "plot" in question was one that was never proven and for which evidence was never brought. Some felt sorry for him, but hinted that someone must be punished for this unproven, assumed "plot". Holding such sentiments, how could such a jury be trusted to have given proper weight to the facts?

Specifically, even the presiding judge had to say that if the trial showed one thing, it showed that memory was not a tape recorder and was subject to failure. This wasn't said only in regard to Libby, but because reporter after reporter showed inconsistencies that were clearly a result of lapse in memory of details, times, etc. This is especially true of someone who receives not only briefing after briefing on multiple pieces of legislation regarding every issue of national or federal concern, but who as Chief of Staff to the Vice President, is given a slew of operational matters to take into consideration every hour of every day. The information he receives is a constant flow of new opinions, facts, assignments, events, etc. His own staff testified that he had to be reminded constantly of details of events or legislation simply because of the sheer number of things he was told and had to remember at any given time. They testified that even repeated reminders were not always enough, nor could they be in such a situation. Would a jury such as the one described above be receptive to such an argument? Could such a jury be receptive to any such argument?

There is also an important political message that needs to be sent. Politics has become viciously partisan to the point that speculative paranoia now becomes de facto reason. It has reached a point in which a man's guilt or innocence has been ascertained based on his involvement within a particular Administration. This insanity needs to be pointed out. Leaders have a responsibility to bring this state of affairs to light and to point these dangers out to the public. Not only the President’s party but Democrats as well should be receptive to this as well as they too are affected by the political wars that hurt both sides equally, just at different times.

In short, for moral reasons the President needs to pardon I. Lewis Libby as quickly as possible to put an end to what has become a travesty and farce. It is for such reasons that the President is given the full power to pardon. In so doing, the President should show how dangerous political paranoia has become. The nation will be well served and the political advantage of doing so will help the President in the short term and both parties in the long run.