Warning: Do not read this on a queasy or otherwise weak stomach.
Did I say we had reached the PR phase of this defense? Sure looks like it, from the job Comstock Team Libby did on the sentencing memorandum. Here's how it starts.
Distinguished public servant. Generous mentor. Selfless friend. Devoted father. This is the rich portrait of Mr. Libby that emerges from the descriptions of him in the more than 160 heartfelt letters submitted to the Court on his behalf. The letter writers, who range from administrative assistants to admirals, neighborhood friends to former colleagues, Democrats to Republicans, bear witness to Mr. Libby’s character and patriotism. As detailed below, Mr. Libby’s accomplishments in the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Office of the Vice President demonstrate his extraordinary commitment to public service. His dedication to promoting freedom abroad and keeping American citizens safe at home is beyond question. Mr. Libby has also earned a reputation for treating people fairly and kindly and comforting those who are distressed. He has avoided the Washington limelight to focus on nurturing his young children. Even those who disagree vociferously with policies he supported while serving in the government believe his conviction is not characteristic of the life he has led.[my emphasis]
"Beyond question"? Team Libby has taken that little universe of 160 letter-writers (fewer, I might repeat, than supported Abramoff) and used the to claim the man who helped Cheney dismantle our Constitution is a saint.
And meanwhile: any guesses? "Democrats to Republicans"? They do know about last year's primary in CT, don't they? And anyone know the admiralty well enough to guess the identity of that one? John Poindexter, maybe? The architect of Total Information Awareness? No mention, yet, of journalists or WaPo editors.
The mention of journalists doesn't come until later:
The letter writers come from many different periods in Mr. Libby’s life and from across the political spectrum. They are conservatives and liberals; career public servants and people working in journalism, medicine, and law; professional mentors and pro bono clients. They run the gamut from four-star generals and admirals to non-commissioned officers; renowned professors and cabinet officials to secretaries, law firm associates, and junior staffers. Mr. Libby has touched all of these people’s lives, and we rely on their letters to show what he is truly like.
Sooooo. I'm starting a pool to guess the journalist. Just Fred Hiatt? Or Judy too?
The renowned professors are probably Fukuyama and Bernard Lewis. The Four Star Generals? Guesses? And I'm sure there are a number of cabinet officials. Now I wish I had written my letter arguing the press ought to vet these people to expose their conflicts of interest.
And in case you didn't know, Scooter single-handedly brought democracy to Eastern Europe:
While at the Pentagon, Mr. Libby also helped to bring stability and democracy to Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War. A former civilian military leader remembers, “I grew to admire his intellect and his wisdom during that remarkable period in which the Soviet empire, and ultimately the Soviet Union itself, disintegrated – a period in which both Scooter and I played important roles.”
According to a retired colonel, Mr. Libby “worked tirelessly” to assist “the people of
Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union who were at the beginning of their emancipation from tyranny. In meetings with senior officials in the Soviet Union, Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere he was a strong advocate for the rule of law, civilian control of the military, and respect for human rights.”
Do you suppose anyone has told Saint Reagan he has been usurped?
The portrayal of Libby's work on the highly partisan Cox Committee--effectively a post-Iran-Contra attempt to blame Democrats for giving the Chinese nukes when in fact the Iran-Contra conspiracists seem to have, is equally, um, creative. And if you're wondering, Chris Cox does appear to be one of Libby's 160 admirers, celebrating him all the time as a paragon of bipartisan spirit.
Then there is the extended effort to paint Libby as open-minded, willing to listen to ideas contrary to his own. Like those of Joe Wilson, apparently. Or those of the large number of sane people who knew that the Iraq War was a disaster waiting to happen. It sure looks like he listened to them.
Libby's Own Personal Law
The memo is particularly cynical in its attempt to justify Libby be subject to his own private judicial system, different from that of anyone else. There's the attempt to invent reasons why it's okay for Libby to perjure and obstruct justice.
Under § 3553(a)(1), the Court must also analyze the “nature and circumstances” of the convicted offenses. Mr. Libby fully acknowledges that perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice are serious crimes. We feel compelled to point out, however, that the circumstances that led to Mr. Libby’s conviction are unusual and perhaps unique. [my emphasis]
Notice the false remorse? Mr. Libby acknowledges that perjury, false statements, and obstruction are serious. That is, if other people commit them.
To begin with, Mr. Libby was convicted for lying to the FBI and the grand jury, which were both investigating the possible improper disclosure of Valerie Wilson’s CIA employment to reporters, primarily Robert Novak. Mr. Libby, of course, was not Mr. Novak’s source. As discussed more fully in our Guidelines memo, there is no evidence that Mr. Libby committed any underlying crime. And, no evidence suggests that he learned that Ms. Wilson’s status was covert or classified before her identity was publicly disclosed. Accordingly, there is no basis for concluding (even in the absence of formal charges) that Mr. Libby did anything unlawful when he discussed Ms. Wilson with any reporter prior to July 14, 2003.
More broadly, no one was ever charged with improperly disclosing Ms. Wilson’s identity and to this day it is unclear, if not highly doubtful, that any improper (much less illegal) disclosure was made by any government official. Therefore, this is the rare case where the statements by the defendant that were found to be false did not cover up any underlying crime.
Okay, this is where I stopped laughing and started throwing books. Now I know how Debra Bonamici feels. This is someone who had a security clearance. Someone who, even if he did it accidentally (which defies all the evidence) outed a CIA NOC.
Then there's another false show of not-remorse.
We do not mean to suggest that the absence of an underlying offense excuses obstruction and perjury. Rather, we believe it is appropriate for the Court to consider that Mr. Libby was not covering up any illegal activity when deciding how severely he should be punished. The government’s own motive theory suggests that Mr. Libby made false statements not because he did anything illegal in June or July of 2003, but because he allegedly feared (albeit mistakenly) in October 2003 that his prior statements to reporters might have been wrongful.
Um, no. Simply, no. That is not the theory of motive I heard Team USA present. It is a gross, disgusting distortion.
The Mitigating Factors
And here is where all that schmoozing of the Probation Office comes into play. The PSR lists the following as mitigating factors:
(1) Mr. Libby’s outstanding record of public service and prior good works; (2) collateral employment consequences for Mr. Libby, including the expected loss of his license to practice law; and (3) the improbability of any future criminal conduct by Mr. Libby.
don't actually argue these cases very compellingly, they just say they
apply in spades. Even they, though, must have believed the PSR's
suggestion that Libby's legal expenses was over the top, because
somehow that didn't make their memo.
How About the Wilson's Punishment?
Then there's the section where Team Libby lays out the punishment Libby has already endured, mostly at the hand of the press (wisely, Team Libby does not this time blame bloggers). I do look forward to hearing what Joe and Valerie have to say about poor Libby's treatment at the hand of the public:
The offenses here are serious ones. Nevertheless, as the Court metes out “just punishment,” we urge the Court not to overlook the punishment Mr. Libby has already received, and stands to receive in the future, as a result of his convictions. Mr. Libby’s felony convictions make it unlikely that he will ever work in government or practice law again, and his notoriety will also hinder his future job prospects. He and his family have endured crushing public humiliation as a result of unceasing press coverage. The media commentary about Mr. Libby has often been particularly unfair. Although he did not “out” Ms. Wilson, Mr. Libby has been continually blamed with leaking or orchestrating the leak of her identity. As the evidence at trial showed, as far back as September 2003, reporters were insinuating that Mr. Libby was the leaker. Indeed, based on such false assumptions, Mr. Libby has been repeatedly and wrongfully accused by some people of serious crimes including treason. The burden of relentless and unfair media coverage has fallen heaviest on Mr. Libby’s young children, and imprisonment would separate him from them at a particularly formative time in their lives.
Better yet, I look forward to hearing what Sidney Blumenthal has to say about it. He's got a much richer vocabulary for this kind of tripe.
Libby's Proposed Sentence
Team Libby asks Judge Walton to throw out the sentencing guidelines so he can sentence this mythical Saint Scooter.
Here, that focus means that we respectfully urge the Court to sentence Mr. Libby on the basis of the portrait of him presented in the Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) and in the letters submitted on his behalf, rather than on the basis of some incomplete or distorted picture.
So here's what Team Libby proposes for outing a CIA NOC, lying about it, and serving as a firewall for your boss.
On the unique facts of this case, and the unique contributions of this man, we believe that under 18 U.S.C. § 3553, a non-Guidelines sentence of probation is warranted.
Though later in the document, they reveal the Probation Office recommended 15-21 months.
The Vice President
I think in several ways, Team Libby probably has badly overplayed their hand (and I keep hearing Jane's voice in my head talking about how Libby forces his lawyers to do stupid things because he feels he is righteous). First, it appears that many of the letters are a tribute to Libby as a member of Dick's team, and not just Libby as Libby. There must be at least 10 current and former OVP employees who wrote letters in Libby's support. And at least one of them ties Libby's sainthood to Dick's.
This is a testimony to his devotion to our nation and the Vice President.
And from the descriptions of the letter-writers, the crowd on which Team Libby hangs its appeal appears to be precisely the kind of Neocon orgy we all expected it would be.
It'll be fairly easy for Team USA to get up and point out that all of this hagiography, written at the hand of OVP employees who work directly for the guy who most benefits from leniency for Libby, is unconvincing at best.
And, finally, if you're not already crying, contemplate this:
For the same reason, the public does not need to be protected from him.