You’d think a retired vice president -- even one who came of age in the 1960s -- would have better things to talk about than how he’s been hassled by The Man.
Not Dick Cheney. Cheney appeared at the Union League Club on Monday to flog his book, In My Time. But he spent more time complaining about the fact that his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, was persecuted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Libby’s crime? Blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame, who was married to Joseph Wilson, the diplomat who called b.s. on the Bush Administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein bought yellowcake uranium from Niger. Libby leaked Plame’s name to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who was writing articles supporting the case for war with Iraq. As a result of his indiscretion, Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Cheney’s daughter, who “interviewed” her father, called the prosecution “a tremendous miscarriage of justice” and “a shameful disgrace.” Cheney persuaded his boss, President Bush, to commute Libby’s 30-month sentence. After all, Libby’s only crime was doing the White House’s dirty work.
Dick Cheney fought the law, and Dick Cheney won. To paraphrase Richard M. Nixon, "When the vice president does it, that means it's not illegal."
If only Rod Blagojevich had friends like that. I’m sure Blagojevich’s wife would say the same thing about Fitzgerald’s treatment of her husband. And she might have a point. Libby unmasked a CIA agent in order to embarrass her husband, who was trying to kick away a pillar of the Bush Administration’s case for war. As it turned out, Wilson was right. Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. But thousands of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians died before we found that out.
Revealing a CIA agent’s name to further a bogus cause for war, then lying about it to the FBI and a grand jury makes Blagojevich’s crimes look as piddling as copyright infringement. But Blago is going to prison, while Libby got off with only the loss of his law license.
As we say in Chicago, Libby has clout. Blago -- who never got along with President Obama when both were Illinois politicians -- can’t count on the White House to commute his sentence.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!