The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Likely pardon for Libby

The least shocking news item of the week.

Now that top White House aide Karl Rove is off the hook in the CIA leak probe, President George W. Bush must weigh whether to pardon former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the only one indicted in the three-year investigation.

Speculation about a pardon began in late October, soon after Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald unsealed the perjury indictment of Libby, and it continued last week after Fitzgerald chose not to charge Rove.

"I think ultimately, of course, there are going to be pardons," said Joseph diGenova, a former prosecutor and an old Washington hand who shares that view with many pundits.

"These are the kinds of cases in which historically presidents have given pardons," said the veteran Republican attorney.

The White House remains mum on the president's intentions. Spokeswoman Dana Perino declined to comment Friday.

Bush has powerful incentives to pardon Libby, however. They range from rewarding past loyalty to ending the awkward revelations emerging from pretrial motions, a flow that could worsen in his trial next year.

Libby was indicted for lying in Fitzgerald's probe into who in the administration leaked the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters in 2003, apparently to undercut her husband's attack on Bush's war-justifying claim that Iraq sought uranium in Niger.

By demanding sensitive, sometimes embarrassing materials, some say, Libby appears to be goading the White House into issuing a pardon. Libby's spokeswoman did not respond to questions about a pardon.

One attorney familiar with the Plame case said Bush might find that it is in his interest to pardon Libby sooner rather than later.

A pardon before the trial could could cut off the disclosures and spare Vice President Dick Cheney from testifying as Fitzgerald's witness about Libby, his former chief of staff.