Sent to Washington Post sage Richard Cohen after his hacktackular column and chat.
I have a few observations on your recent column about Scooter Libby. I tried to raise these in the chat but apparently I came too late (and I'm sure you were hit with an avalanche of questions and comments, so it's not surprising).
The four main points I want to raise are these:
1) CIA Director Hayden confirmed to Congressman Henry Waxman that Valerie Plame Wilson was considered "covert" under the applicable statutes at the time her identity and employer were revealed. I find it difficult to understand how you can continue to maintain the opposite after this revelation by the man currently in charge of the CIA, who was brought in after the revelation and therefore cannot have any axe to grind, and who cannot be considered a partisan opponent of the Bush Administration and Scooter Libby.
2) You insist that there is no underlying crime because Libby himself did not initially reveal Valerie Wilson's identity. It seems to me that Libby's crime was obstructing the investigation into the revelation of the identity of a covert agent, not his faulty memory. Whether he himself committed that particular crime is not relevant; he obstructed the investigation and that is why he is being punished. Why do you disagree with that position, when a jury of 12 Americans agreed?
3) You have called for a commutation of Libby's sentence because he himself did not initially reveal Valerie Wilson's identity; that is now known to have been the work of Richard Armitage. But how is that different from the sentence of Charles Colson, who did not himself participate in the Watergate burglary? Like Libby, all he did was remain loyal to his superiors and participate in obstruction of the investigation of actions he did not himself commit.
4) You have said that high government officials should not be "called to account for practicing the dark art of politics," presumably referring to whatever dirty tricks they might engage in in the name of partisan politics. But isn't there a line that cannot be crossed in that regard, where the "dark art" subverts our political system and runs afoul of the law? And regardless of whether these violations of law might be trivial, are not high government officals expected to take responsibility when they do cross it? Further, do not high government officials have a duty to assist in the investigation and correction of these abuses, no matter how minor, and not obstruct such investigations?
Thank you for your time.
Let's just say I'm not shedding any tears for poor Scooter.