In 1776, a group of well educated and propertied men from all the colonies got together to draft and sign a revolutionary document. As they did so, they pledged “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to its ringing declaration of defiance against a lawless, power mad monarch who had usurped their liberties and trampled on the rule of law.
These were serious men, willing to risk everything to be free from tyranny and lawlessness. And the words they wrote would eventually transcend even their own enlightened but still limited understanding, extending its self evident truth to everyone — women, slaves, the poor, gays, immigrants from all lands — because this was a document whose principles logically applied to all humans, the whole species, not just privileged men. From the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. . . .
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
This week, a cowardly President who resembles more the King George the colonists revolted against than any of the courageous patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence signed another document, freeing a convicted felon, a crony, from the justice peers found he richly deserved, again trampling on the rule of law. Yesterday, his spokesman insulted the intelligence of reporters and the American people by trying to justify this cowardly act. But in the process, Tony Snow let slip a tidbit that may just be the string that unravels a huge criminal conspiracy.
So what did the White House spokesman say about whether and how Vice President Cheney might have influenced the President’s decision to keep their firewall, Scooter Libby from going to jail? From the Press Briefing by Tony Snow (Amato’s C&L has two video clips):
MR. SNOW: . . . The President spent weeks and weeks consulting with senior members of this White House about the proper way to proceed, and they looked at a whole lot of options, and they spent a lot of time talking through the options and doing some very detailed legal analysis.
Q Was it appropriate for the Vice President to weigh in about the fate of his own friend, and someone who had served him for years —
MR. SNOW: I’m sure that the Vice President may have expressed an opinion, but the fact is, the President understands the — and he may have recused himself; I honestly don’t know.
Q Did he ask for the President to spare his friend?
MR. SNOW: We’d never — as you know, Kelly — talk about internal deliberations. Nice try. This is exactly what we’re talking about right now before the House and Senate, and we’re not going to characterize specifically any kind of advice or plea that somebody may make.
Q But doesn’t the public deserve to know if the Vice President asked the President to use this constitutional authority to spare his former aide and longtime friend from prison?
MR. SNOW: Well, let me put it this way. The President does not look upon this as granting a favor to anyone, and to do that is to misconstrue the nature of the deliberations. . . .
Shorter Tony Snow: Even though the Vice President and President likely talked about how and whether to keep Scooter Libby out of jail, we have the right to assert Executive Privilege to conceal a blatant conflict of interest in a criminal investigation and a conversation that may well have been part of a conspiracy to obstruct justice.
If you need a reminder on how the President, Cheney and Libby’s obstruction are all tied together, read the experts: see Christy’s “Marcy was right.”. We probably just witnessed obstruction of justice, right before our eyes. Here’s Sidney Blumenthal’s summary from his article, “Bush and Cheney walk too”.
Cheney aroused President Bush to the danger from Wilson. A handwritten note by Libby that surfaced in his trial revealed that Bush raised his concern about the Kristof column in a subsequent June 9 meeting. The next day, the State Department memo “Niger/Iraq Uranium Story” began circulating within the administration. On June 12, Cheney identified Plame to Libby, and Libby went hard to work. Within three days, he discussed Plame with five officials. On July 6, after Wilson published a New York Times op-ed disclosing that the rationale the president gave for the war was premised on false information, an enraged Cheney ordered Libby into high gear. Cheney also secured Bush’s concurrence for Libby to leak selected parts of the still-classified National Intelligence Estimate on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction to New York Times reporter Judith Miller on July 8. Bush, therefore, was deeply involved. But what did the president know, and when did he know it?
Bush’s commutation of Libby’s 30-month prison sentence for four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice was as politically necessary to hold his remaining hardcore base for the rest of his 18 months in office as it was politically damaging to his legacy and to the possibility of a Republican succession. It was also essential in order to sustain Libby’s cover-up protecting Cheney and perhaps Bush himself. . . .
Bush rewards Libby’s cover-up, thwarting the investigation into Cheney’s and perhaps his culpability. Bush’s commutation is the successful culmination of the obstruction of justice.
The men who signed their names to the Declaration and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor knew what to do with such scoundrels. And so does Keith Olbermann (many thanks to Amato at C&L, an integral part of the unofficial but very accessible national archives. No FOIA required.)
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