Scooter’s Fate:
I Say Torture Him

As he informed Scooter Libby‘s lawyers that their client would not squirm out of his jail term of two and a half years, Judge Reggie B. Walton revealed that he had been threatened, via letters and phone calls, by some of Libby’s more rabid supporters – not really a very surprising development. After all, it makes perfect sense that Libby’s fans would be just as indifferent to the rule of law as their “hero” – who outed a covert CIA agent [.pdf] and placed the national security of this country – and the life of CIA agent Valerie Plame – in dire jeopardy. These people are thugs, and their methods reflect their mentality.

Libby and his cohorts never believed they would have to pay for their crimes. They thought they were above the law. Theirs is a philosophy that goes beyond mere elitism: these guys think they are philosopher-kings, and we are all their helots. It doesn’t matter if they’re addressing a federal judge or Joe Sixpack down the street, their attitude is exactly the same: they deserve special treatment, and the rest of us are just spear-carriers in their victory parade. Their moral sense is not just missing – that, in a sense, would be a blessing. It is perversely inverted. Here is Joseph diGenova, one of the Libby-ites, bloviating on “Hardball” about the dire consequences if his hero isn’t pardoned:

“The president will then have to act … because, if Scooter Libby spends one day in prison, the black mark on this president’s tenure in office will be indelible.

“MATTHEWS: And it will be his black mark on Bush, not on Scooter Libby, as you see it?

“DIGENOVA: No question about that, Chris, no question.”

No question – in Bizarro World, that is, where up is down, right is left, and the most calculating amorality is the apotheosis of virtue. In Bizarro World – Scooter’s world – failure to pardon a man who betrayed his country, who exhibited disdain for the danger he was placing a covert operative and her family in, and who continues to cover up the real extent of his crimes (including those of his co-conspirators), merits an indelible stain, at the very least.

Yes, they’re even threatening the President of the United States – these neocons really are something, aren’t they?

You would think they would be a little less aggressive in defending someone who so obviously lied to cover up a larger conspiracy – but, no, that’s not their style. Instead of quietly lobbying the President for a pardon, they’ve gone on the offensive with a high profile campaign to free Scooter, raising millions for his legal defense, and even signing up the hapless Fred Thompson, putative GOP presidential candidate and actor (or do I repeat myself?).

The neocons have their talking points all in order, and they are everywhere making them, first and foremost claiming that there was “no underlying crime” – because, you see, Valerie Plame wasn’t a covert agent (false), because Richard Armitage blabbed to Bob Novak, too (irrelevant), and, most of all, because the War Party isn’t answerable to anyone or anything, least of all the U.S. government. This last argument is rarely if ever voiced, yet it is strongly implied in every word that comes out of their mouths – only the little people have to answer for their crimes, because if they, the Philosopher-Kings, commit a crime, it is, by definition, an act of heroism.

I refer the reader here, to the “love letters” sent to the judge in this case weighing in on the Libby sentencing. It seems that this is the new neocon litmus test: if you’re a member of the club, you prove it by going to bat for Scooter. The list of special pleaders reads like a Neocon Who’s Who: Norman Podhoretz, Fouad Ajami, Bernard Lewis, Ken Adelman, John Bolton, Joseph Bottum, Eliot Cohen, Midge Decter, John Hannah, Christopher Demuth (who piously avers “Scooter is devoted to truth”!), Douglas Feith, and even the neocon defector Francis Fukuyama, who perhaps is trying to signal that his recent heresy is neither permanent nor really a defection. These worthies are joined by a platoon of high-powered lawyers, present and former government officials (Henry the K, former Congressman and present head of the SEC Christopher Cox), academics, personal acquaintances, and corporate movers-and-shakers who type their paeans to Scooter the selfless altruist and patriot on impressive-looking letterheads. A more graphic illustration of the sense of entitlement these people feel, on account of their power, their positions, and their wealth, would be hard to imagine.

However, the first letter, signed “An Angry Citizen,” demanding “the longest possible prison term for Mr. Libby,” more accurately reflects popular opinion in this case, and there are more than a few of these missives, generally expressing the view that, as one writer put it, if you or I steal a loaf of bread and are caught, we are sure to go to jail – so why shouldn’t Scooter Libby? Many of these letters are handwritten, and absent a letterhead, yet they are far more eloquent and convincing than the standard “Scooter-loves-puppies-and-is-kind-to-children” boilerplate churned out by the pro-Libby crowd. “Anything less than the maximum sentence for I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby,” avers one Lana Galyean, “would send a message that public servants in this country are not (seriously) held to high, or even lawful, standards.” And Stephen P. Hennessey really cuts to the core of this case with the following:

“It is important to keep in perspective what Mr. Libby did and continues to do. He was convicted because he lied to the FBI and to the Grand Jury in order to obstruct a federal investigation. His efforts in this regard have in fact proven to be successful in that the FBI and the Special Prosecutor have not been able to determine anything other than that there was a conspiracy to expose the identity of a CIA operative. The full details of the crime will likely never be known nor will responsible individuals be prosecuted because of people like Mr. Libby.

“Moreover, and for purposes of sentencing, special attention should be drawn to the fact that the crime is ongoing. Mr. Libby was found guilty of obstructing justice, and he is continuing to do so by not correcting the record and not cooperating with the Special Prosecutor’s investigation. He is not only remorseless, but he continues to further the efforts of those who would conceal the original crime.”

Patrick J. Fitzgerald couldn’t have said it better.

The conspiracy continues, the cover-up is ongoing, all due to Libby’s lies and the inability – and/or unwillingness – of a Democratic-controlled Congress to launch its own investigation. The shenanigans engaged in by the office of the vice president in regard to this particular matter are well-known. What desperately needs to be looked into, however, are the other and potentially far more serious crimes of the cabal that lied us into war, in particular Cheney’s machinations around the Iraqi “intelligence,” the purveyors of which knew to be false. In one case, information provided to the White House and congressional leaders was based on a rather obvious forgery. In short, it was all lies, from beginning to end, and the Cheney-ites didn’t care how or why their bogus information became official talking points – all they wanted, and what they got, was a rush to war. Now we are paying the price of their determined deception.

Two-and-a-half years in jail – that’s hardly enough to pay back Scooter’s debt to society. Thousands killed in Iraq, tens of thousands horribly wounded, close to a trillion dollars expended before it’s over (and possibly more) – how does one pay such a debt? The death penalty wouldn’t be enough of a punishment.

The neocons are big advocates of torture: they hail its efficacy as a law enforcement tool and a vital weapon in our anti-terrorist arsenal. Why not apply this technique to Senor Libby? As letter-writer Hennessey points out, Scooter’s crime is “ongoing,” and surely this would be one way of getting the truth out of him. According to the neocons, government officials have a perfect right and even a duty to engage in torture in order to secure information deemed vital to the national interest – and surely the nation is interested in the exact details of Scooter’s “underlying crime.” Well, then, this is one way of finding out, perhaps the only way.

Oh, but the neocons don’t mean to apply the torture principle to themselves, only to the “terrorists” – they, as we all know, are above the law, even their own Bizarro World version of it. As for myself, I don’t believe in torture, even in this case, but there are … alternative methods of getting the truth out of Scooter.

I say we lock him up in a room and force him to hear the collected speeches of Ron Paul: the flow of words hailing the Constitution, the rule of law, and the virtues of strictly limited government and a non-interventionist foreign policy will wash over him as if he’d been dropped in a vat of acid. Like a vampire reacting to garlic, or sunlight, Scooter’s shrieks of pained outrage won’t last long – he’ll either beg for mercy and capitulate immediately, or else he’ll eventually be converted to libertarianism and will voluntarily confess his crimes. It’s a win-win situation, any way you look at it.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is editor-at-large at Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].