Many Newspapers Oppose Pardon

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Thursday, June 7, 2007; 1:16 PM

An avalanche of newspaper editorials today is urging President Bush not to pardon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former vice presidential chief of staff sentenced to two and a half years in jail this week for obstructing justice in the CIA leak investigation.

"No pardon for Libby," proclaims the Los Angeles Times: "A pardon would be bad politics, deep injustice and an insult to the nation. Libby was convicted of a serious crime and sentenced in accordance with federal guidelines. President Bush has no legitimate reason to disturb that sentence. . . .

"Libby's apologists also are recycling an argument from the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, when the special prosecutor who pursued Oliver L. North was accused by defenders of the Reagan administration of 'criminalizing policy differences' over Nicaragua. But Libby faces prison not because he was an architect and promoter of the war in Iraq. As a high government official, he lied to agents of that government; he did so to foil a prosecution. As he well knew, that was a crime, and one for which he deserves to go to prison."

"No pardon for Libby," proclaims the Chicago Tribune: "Bush should steer clear of this matter. First, because he has a conflict of interest -- Libby was serving the political interests of the administration when he committed his crimes. Second, because a pardon would be as indefensible as some of the pardons Clinton issued as he exited the White House.

"Bush shouldn't add to the taint -- now or in the final days of his term."

"No pardon for Libby," proclaims the Seattle Times: "A presidential pardon for I. Lewis Libby would grievously compound the abuse of power that led to obstruction of justice and perjury convictions for Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. . . .

"A presidential pardon sends one cynical message: Powerful, well-connected people can lie with impunity. The administration behaved as if it were above challenge and rebuke."

USA Today writes: "Pardoning Libby would send a message that it's OK to attempt to thwart the criminal justice system if you're an important player in Washington. Washington already sends enough messages of that sort.

"A pardon would also say that people who work for the White House are above the law if they think they're doing the president's bidding, because the president could always let them off the hook."

The San Francisco Chronicle writes: "Clearing Libby [would suggest] a final payoff in a political bargain: He takes the fall without naming others and in the end receives a pardon that keeps him out of prison.

"What you can do: Contact the White House and urge the president not to pardon Libby. You can deliver a comment through the White House Web site:

Newsday writes: "The spin that Lewis 'Scooter' Libby got a raw deal with prison time and a hefty fine for lying to investigators probing the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame is ludicrous. Truth is the raw material of justice. Without it there's no way to reliably convict the guilty or exonerate the innocent. Lying to authorities is serious business, something that Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, had to know. He did it anyway, so now he's a convicted felon, the same as those who never wore white collars or reported to work at the White House."

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