Monday, July 02, 2007

JOE WILSON ON THE LIBBY COMMUTATION

This probably will be on The New Mexican's site by the morning, but just in case ...

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 3, 2007


Commuting the prison sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby raises questions of whether President Bush is now an active participant in obstructing justice, former Ambassador Joe Wilson told The New Mexican on Monday.

“I’m outraged,” Wilson — whose wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA agent by Bush administration figures — said in a telephone interview. “The question for President Bush is if, in commuting this sentence, are you not an accessory or participant in the obstruction of justice in ensuring that Libby will never be forced to tell the truth?”

President Bush on Monday commuted the 2 1/2-year prison sentence of Libby, former chief of staff of Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators in the Plame case.

Wilson, Plame and their children moved to Santa Fe this year.

Wilson said the action on behalf of Libby means “the president can no longer hide behind an ongoing investigation. He could instruct the special prosecutor to release (Bush’s) interview with the special prosecutor and the vice president’s interview, so we can learn what is the cloud hanging over Vice President Cheney.”

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has spoken of a “cloud” hanging over Cheney in the Plame scandal.

“Congress ought to conduct an investigation of whether or not the president is himself a participant in the obstruction of justice,” Wilson said.

Although outraged, Wilson said he wasn’t surprised by Bush commuting Libby’s sentence. “I’ve seen enough of this administration to realize they are capable of this,” he said.

Wilson and Plame last year sued Cheney, Libby, White House political director Karl Rove and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Armitage has admitted leaking Plame’s name to conservative columnist Robert Novak, who published it after confirming it with Rove. The civil suit is still pending in federal court.

In February 2002, the CIA sent Wilson to Niger to investigate a claim that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy enriched “yellowcake” uranium. He concluded the story was false. The next year, he wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times accusing the Bush administration of exaggerating the threat of Iraq to justify going to war.

Soon after, White House officials informed some journalists, including Novak, that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA.

Several Democratic presidential candidates, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, decried Libby’s commutation.

“The arrogance of this administration’s disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking,” Richardson said in a news release. “Will the President also commute the sentences of others who obstructed justice and lied to grand juries, or only those who act to protect President Bush and Vice President Cheney?”

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