BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal. Iraq is a bloody mess and getting bloodier every day. So what's been all the buzz this week among the people who took us to war from the safety of their beltway bunkers - I mean Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites? Their passion of the week is to keep Scooter Libby from going to jail. I'm not making this up. Secretary of State Condoleeeza Rice, one of the premier fabricators of the war, met with the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal here in New York, and is quoted saying that Scooter Libby has served the country well and should be treated accordingly. A strong hint there of a presidential pardon for one of their own.
BILL MOYERS: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was Vice President Cheney's most trusted adviser - as you know, he's been sentenced to 30 months in jail for lying. Perjury. Not a white lie, mind you. A killer lie. Scooter Libby deliberately poured poison into the drinking water of democracy by lying to federal investigators....for the purpose of obstructing justice.
Attempting to trash critics of the war, Libby and his pals in high places - including his boss Dick Cheney - outed a covert CIA agent. Libby then lied to cover their tracks. He kicked sand in the eyes of truth, to throw investigators off the trail. Said the Chief Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald: "Libby lied about nearly everything that mattered." The jury agreed and found him guilty on four felony counts. The judge - Reggie B. Walton - a no-nonsense lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key type appointed to the bench by none other than George W. Bush - called the evidence 'overwhelming' and threw the book at Libby. You would have thought their man had been ordered to Guantanamo, so intense was the reaction from his defenders. They flooded the judge's chambers with letters of support for their comrade and took to the airwaves in a campaign to free Scooter Libby.
TOM DELAY ("Hardball"): This is a travesty of justice.
DAVID FRUM ("Hardball"): The punishment is just so out of line with reality!
BILL MOYERS: Vice President Cheney issued a statement praising Libby as "a man of...personal integrity" - without -- of course -- a hint about their collusion to browbeat the CIA into mangling intelligence about Iraq. "A patriot, a dedicated public servant, a strong family man, and a tireless, honorable, selfless human being," said Donald Rumsfeld -- the very same Rumsfeld who had claimed to know the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction, and boasted of "bulletproof" evidence linking Saddam to 9/11. "A good person" and "decent man," said the pentagon adviser Kenneth Adelman, who had predicted the war in Iraq would be a "cakewalk." Paul Wolfowitz wrote a four-page letter to praise "the noblest spirit of selfless service" that he knew motivated his friend Scooter. Yes, that Paul Wolfowitz, who had claimed Iraqis would "greet us as liberators" and that Iraq would "finance its own reconstruction." The same Paul Wolfowitz who had to resign recently as president of the World Bank for using his office to show favoritism to his girlfriend.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: I made a mistake.
BILL MOYERS: Paul Wolfowitz turned character witness. The praise kept coming....from Douglas Feith, who ran the pentagon factory of disinformation that Cheney and Libby used to brainwash the press... from Henry Kissinger, who whispered often into Libby's ear...from Richard Perle, as cocksure about Libby's "honesty, integrity, fairness and balance" as he had been about the success of the war...William Kristol, whose Weekly Standard primed the pump of the propaganda machine, now led the call for a presidential pardon:
WILLIAM KRISTOL: I think there's a very strong case on the merits for pardon.
BILL MOYERS: One beltway insider is quoted saying the neo-cons are "weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness" of Libby's sentence. And there's the rub. None seem the least weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness of sentencing soldiers to repeated and longer tours of duty in a war induced by deception. It was left to the hawkish academic Fouad Ajami to state it baldly, as he pleaded on the editorial page of the WALL STREET JOURNAL for Bush to pardon Libby. For believing "in the nobility of this war," wrote Ajami, Scooter Libby had himself become a "casualty" -- a fallen soldier the president dare not leave behind on the beltway battlefield. Not a word in the entire article about the real fallen soldiers. The honest-to-god dead and dying and wounded. Not a word about the chaos or the cost. All the beltway warriors can muster is a plea of mercy for one of their own who lied to cover their tracks. There are contrarian voices.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: This is an open and shut case of perjury and obstruction of justice. And the Republican party, you know, stands for the idea that high officials should not be lying to special investigators.
BILL MOYERS: And from the former Governor of Virginia, James Gilmore, a staunch conservative, comes this verdict: "If the public believes there's one law for a certain group of people in high places and another law for regular people, then you will destroy the law and destroy the system." So it may well be, as the HARTFORD COURANT said editorially, that Mr. Libby is "a nice guy, a loyal and devoted patriot"...but none of that excuses perjury or obstruction of justice. If it did, truth wouldn't matter much."