When the news surfaced about a possible pardon for Scooter Libby, many people in the political world (under the age of 35) probably had to Google (or DuckDuckGo) the name to gain some understanding about Libby’s history.
Only the staff at Think Progress and The Nation saw the movie ‘Fair Game’ based on the true story of Valerie Plame, the CIA analyst who had her identity leaked to the press. Libby got caught up in the process, getting convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Despite the Googling, and the rending of garments, Trump’s decision to pardon Scooter Libby is easy to understand. The history of Libby’s conviction and why it happened continually requires reminding people, particularly journalists, of the facts. What happened to Libby is not complicated, but even now, over a decade later, people want to revise history because it works better for the political narrative that the Bush administration purposely outed an undercover CIA operative as an act of revenge.
President Trump issued a statement claiming the conviction of Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice was “unfair.” President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s sentence of 30 months so he could avoid a prison stay. Since that time, Libby had his voting rights in Virginia restored in addition to his ability to practice law. Trump pardoned Libby for one reason: As a middle finger to James Comey.
In 2003, Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation into the leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame. The narrative pushed was somebody in the administration leaked her name on purpose as a revenge move against her husband, Joe Wilson. Wilson wrote an op-ed for The New York Times casting doubt on the Bush claim that Iraq sought to acquire yellowcake uranium in Niger.
At the time, Comey was the deputy attorney general, and he appointed Patrick Fitzgerald as the special counsel to oversee the leak investigation. Fitzgerald never secured a conviction, let alone an indictment related to the leak. The Libby conviction was mostly unrelated to the underlying investigation and was more the result of Libby thinking his actions helped his boss, Dick Cheney.
It was the only conviction Fitzgerald managed to get. And Trump’s pardon of Libby is nothing more than a thumb in the eye of Comey by Trump.
As for the Scooter Libby story, it’s stunning that all these years later, people still get the facts surrounding the Valerie Plame investigation wrong. Asha Rangappa, an attorney, former FBI special agent and an anti-Trump celebrity with well over 100,000 followers tweeted the following:
And the CIA. Scooter Libby revealed the identity of a clandestine CIA officer, putting her and her sources in danger. https://t.co/rviaHeh5lM
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) April 13, 2018
This is entirely wrong, but yet it was retweeted nearly 700 times. My RedState colleague, Jay Caruso tweeted the following reply:
So much wrong here.
A. Richard Armitage, an Iraq War skeptic revealed her identity, not Scooter Libby.
B. She was not a clandestine officer. She was an analyst at Langley.
‘Fair Game’ is not a good source. https://t.co/OcU50WftlV
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) April 13, 2018
People are always blaming Libby for leaking Plame’s name, but it was Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State at the time who told the now deceased Robert Novak of Plame’s identity. Fitzgerald investigated and determined Armitage’s leak was not malicious and as a result, he didn’t get prosecuted. Armitage never denied he was the source of information.
As for Plame, the story that she was some super-duper-secret CIA operative defies reality. Yes, Plame had a cover as an energy analyst, but plenty of CIA employees have a cover identity. She was not, however, a field operative or a station chief. Plame was an analyst, nothing more. The idea that revealing her identity put people in danger is something borne in the minds of people with Bush Derangement Syndrome who want to believe the evil version of the story. They heard hoof beats and went on a zebra chase when it was merely a horse.
Plame, outed recently as an anti-Semite, was still invited on MSNBC of course, to throw in her worthless two cents about the pardon.
Shame on MSNBC for doing so.