Rethinking Scooter Libby’s pardon

Rethinking Scooter Libby’s pardon June 7, 2007

You know, the other day I wrote, that President Bush should just pardon Scooter Libby, already.

Then Ed Morrissey wrote that while he had no problem with a pardon, we should be respectful of the fact that a jury weighed the evidence and found him guilty…and I thought, “Ed’s right in that. If we’re going to respect the rule of law, we have to take a jury’s verdict with some seriousness, even if we don’t like that verdict.” He’s written more here.

Then I read this piece in the Washington Post, specifically this part, here:

The White House publicly sought to defer the matter again yesterday, saying that Bush is “not going to intervene” for now. But U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton indicated that he is not inclined to let Libby remain free pending appeals, which means the issue could confront Bush in a matter of weeks…

It suddenly hit me…the right way to go about a pardon is to “let the process play out.” Not to circumvent the process, as Bill Clinton did with some of his pardons, but to actually allow the trial and appeals to play themselves out, to respect the system in place – the same system that convicts both Ken Lay and a garden-variety thief – for the good of the nation. If we start working around the system or pre-empting it altogether, we contribute to a breakdown of respect for it.

So, now…I’m thinking that Libby should exhaust his appeals first. Tom Maguire writes that Jeralyn Merritt thinks Libby has a shot on appeal. Let him take the shot. Verdicts may not always be pleasing, but more often than not they’re correct, and running roughshod over the process in order to be expedient could come back to bite us, in the end.

And shh, shhh…save yer breath for yer porridge if you’re going to come back with, “But Anchoress, you and the other Bushbot supporters of the immigration bill are trying to circumvent a system!”

No, we’re not. (And I am saying FIX the bill, don’t scrap it; I don’t like it wholly in its current form)

There is a vast difference between the respecting the due process and trial of a single man for the sake of a sane and well-working system (“it if ain’t broke, don’t fix it), and in respecting the processing of 12 million through a system that is utterly broken, broken down and in dire need of repair.

Those of us calling for the reworking – not the death – of the immigration bill are not trying to circumvent a viable system…we’re hoping to update and refurbish that system to deal with a reality that is utterly brand new, the thirty-year buildup of neglect – involving 12 million human beings – that some want resolved yesterday.

There is a distinction, and it’s not an especially fine one.

Small personal aside: For those of you following the three-parter on illegal immigration (and the exceedingly thoughtful, civil and intelligent comments threads which have followed both Part I and Part II) over the past few days – I’m hoping to post Part III today, but do have some commitments which will impose on my time. Also, the last few days I’ve spent a purely ridiculous time at my computer either writing, monitoring or dealing with the email (running heavily on the positive side in all this, but man, the hate mail is some of the uuuuuuugliest stuff I’ve received in a long time!) I’ve simply not been getting enough sleep. This is not how baby stays healthy…so, I’ll be “walking and airing” myself and resting a bit before finishing Part III, and while moderation of the comments will continue, my participation will necessarily be lessened a bit for the day.


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