As I listened today to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald outlining the charges against I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, it became clear that what I had been gathering in new reports about the imbroglio over the last week was accurate; the Vice President’s then-Chief of Staff lied to investigators and grand jurors.
Libby has now been accused of doing exactly what Joe Wilson has been doing since that “Administration critic” wrote the New York Times op-ed at issue in this whole mess. He deceived people. With one big difference. Libby lied under oath and Wilson did so in the pages of newspapers, in the pages of his book, on the lecture circuit and on a variety of talk shows.
The First Amendment protects Mr. Wilson’s freedom to lie to the media. It doesn’t protect Mr. Libby’s to do so in a judicial proceeding. As a lawyer, he should have known better than to invent a story of how he learned Ms. Plame’s name, then tell it, not to amuse his friends, but to deceive federal investigators. He should have told them the truth. And now he appears to be guilty of serious crimes. Still, as the president said in his brief remarks just a few moments ago, “In our system, each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial.”
It doesn’t look very good for Mr. Libby now. If he did indeed lie to the grand jury (as the indictment indicates), he hurt the Vice President and the president as well. And he broke the law. He did the right thing in resigning. If a jury of his peers finds him guilty of the crimes for which Mr. FItzgerald indicted him today, he should pay a heavy penalty.