I met Scooter Libby once or twice in the early 1990’s, when he held a high-ranking post in the Defense Department. On the last occasion, I had just returned from a visit to North Korea, and I told him of my intuition that Kim Il Sung might unveil a nuclear weapon on his upcoming birthday. I remember Scooter scribbling down a note but not saying a word in response to my—as it turned out, non-prescient—observation.
I haven’t seen Scooter since, but I’ve followed his career over the years and watched his trial closely. I didn’t hear all the evidence the jury heard, which led them to their conclusion that he is guilty of four out of the five counts with which he was charged.
But when one compares what he was indicted for—lying to the FBI and to a grand jury—with what the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to investigate—the leak of the name of a CIA officer whose covert status has yet to be established and the disclosure of which may therefore not even have been a crime—one cannot help being appalled that this case ever came to trial. And when one considers that, as we now know, the identity of the real leaker—Richard Armitage—was clear to the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald almost as soon as he was assigned the case, the whole affair, involving the hounding of a public servant working tirelessly to protect the country from a second September 11, takes on another coloration altogether: another case of the wanton criminalization of policy disagreements, another case study of a special prosecutor run amok, a terrible injustice. Let the appeals begin.