Thursday, October 27, 2005

Rove, Libby and Martha and.... Bill Clinton...

A lot of speculation right now is that Fitzgerald will indict one or more people for perjury and NOT for any crime associated with the supposed leaking of Plame's name and role at the CIA.

Which is fine with me; if Rove or Libby or someone else lied to the grand jury or investigators (ala Martha Stewart), that is a crime and they ought to be prosecuted.... regardless of whether they were or are prosecuted for an underlying crime (insider trading for Martha, violating the IIPA or Espionage Act for Rove and Libby).

This got me thinking back to the days of Clinton, where he ended up being charged with perjury for lying to Starr's grand jury and how Clinton's defenders were screaming that there was no underlying crime.... and how ridiculous it was to prosecute him, or anyone for that matter, for lying about an affair.

If I had my way back then, Clinton would have been thrown out of office for the affair; screwing with the help is not something a boss should do, and it is certainly not what the President ought to be doing. Unfortunately, it's not a crime and Starr was unable to charge Clinton with being a first-class jerk.

Now, looking at the Plame kerfuffle, leaking the name of a covert intelligence agent is a crime. And if Fitzgerald ends up not bringing charges under either the IIPA or the Espionage Act, it's because he's concluded there was no violation (at least that he could prove) of either statute... similar to Martha's prosecutors deciding not to charge her with insider trading.

So, the interesting twist, at least to me, is that Clinton was prosecuted for denying his involvement in something that wasn't a crime, while Stewart was charged and Rove and/or Libby might be indicted for denying their involvement in something that would have been criminal, but actually wasn't.

Which makes Stewart and Rove and Libby's actions more understandable (but not any less wrong). They feared being prosecuted for real crimes and were trying to cover up their wrongdoing. Clinton was facing no such situation, he could have stood and bragged away about how he had his way with Lewinsky... and nobody could have done a thing about it. But he lied anyway.

So, (assuming Rove and Libby did lie), all four of them committed perjury or lied to investigators. Three did so because they wanted to stay out of legal trouble... the fourth did it because....