Libby, Berger, Clinton

The criminal behavior cases of Libby, Berger, and Clinton have come together for a comparison and contrast dialog. There are many issues to ponder and implications to consider. The two of most relevance seem to be materiality and motivation. That is, what does it have to do with anything and why did he do it?

Berger was convicted for stealing records from the National Archives. He was fined.

Clinton was impeached for perjury and lost his law license.

Libby was convicted for the obstruction of justice and was fined, sentenced to a jail term, and had his professional license removed.

This dialog and its aspects is a hot topic in the blogs. Here are a few worth reading. The comments to the posts can also provide insight. Ankle Biting Pundits has one “prosecutor’s view” in BDP Thoughts On The Libby Commutation. Just One Minute notes a “slick straddle” by supporting the jury but not the judge and calls Reid’s response a “classic gaffe.” The American Mind opines that nobody is happy with the President’s action. Beldar analyzes an hypothetical to get into the materiality issue.

In all three of these cases there was the suppression or obfuscation of evidence. The a priori assumption about such behavior is that its intent is to prevent discovery of a crime.

Berger stole papers so that misconduct in office was not revealed in regards to national security.

Clinton denied his culpability to avoid responsibility for sexual harassment or rape. As a side note, this is often dismissed as ‘just about sex’ which is an obfuscation and denial in its own right. The issues are related to sex but the illegal part was improper relationships with an intern and assault (contrast Paula Jones to the recent Duke case, for instance).

Libby was convicted because his story conflicted with that of others in an investigation about a crime that didn’t happen. It can be assumed to not have happened because the independent investigator hired to find the crime failed to do so and the revelations of the investigation do not point to any crime as alleged.

What the Reid crowd assert is that the sexual harassment and rape in regards to Clinton were not crimes yet the Plame disclosure was a crime, and a significant one at that, even if it wasn’t what Libby was suspected of doing. Therefore Clinton was unjustly impeached and Libby unjustly relieved of prison time in their world.

Then there is the debate about the President’s authority and accountability in pardons and commutations of sentence. Why does the US Constitution provide these powers to a president? The obvious answer is that it is another form of appeal if the other systems fail to create justice. The accountability is strictly in the visibility, these actions being of a rather singular and special nature. Again, Clinton provides an example of how this power can be used for self protection and the rewarding of friends.

What the brouhaha should say is that the issue is primarily political and not a matter of justice or crime. As has been seen in previous ‘independent investigator’ efforts, the process gets so loaded politically that justice takes a back seat. The Libby case is particularly pernicious because it is an effort to create a crime, which is new anf different when compared to the Clinton and Berger cases. The effort to create a crime has revealed that much of its foundation is particularly dishonest this go around. That helps no one and disrupts justice and the needs for civil order and good governance.

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