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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Morals of White House: Law or Politics?

    On Mar. 5, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff, was found guilty and convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury. The case involved leaking a CIA official Valerie Plame’s identity in an attempt to salvage her husband, an administration critic, Joseph Wilson. Far more interesting than the verdict is the insight that this case gave to the outsiders of the degree of depravity that is whitewashed under the pure white crust of the White House. It makes one wonder, are we governed by law or politics?

    The case of Scooter Libby certainly provides enough evidence regarding the workings of the White House officials to believe that the latter has more influence over the government.

    Scooter Libby’s defense attorney Theodore V. Wells Jr. declared a ‘war against the White House,’ according to Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin, by accusing it of turning his client into a ‘scapegoat’ in order to protect Bush political strategist Karl Rove from being scrutinized. This reveals the presence of roots of mistrust and hostility between the officials of the two offices of president and vice president.

    Another example is the vindictive nature of the White House towards its critics, such as Joseph Wilson, who harshly but honestly criticized the Bush administration’s reasons for the ‘highly questionable case of war in Iraq’. Has the currently presiding administration purposefully chosen to overlook the clause in Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution that grants freedom of speech? One can only speculate.

    The dealings of the government officials among themselves are even more worthy of examination. They are tinged with the immorality of politics. Wells brought to attention in his opening statements the imminent cross-examination of Vice President Cheney himself, as the trial would unfold. However, a couple of days later he announced that that would not happen. This began the speculation that there might have been a deal between the administration and Libby.

    This deal could be a presidential pardon, which would be out of the question if the vice president were to be called as a witness. When asked about the possibility of granting a pardon to Libby, Bush stated, ‘I’m pretty much going to stay out of it until the course – the case has finally run its final – the course it’s going to take.’ According to the Justice Department, in order to be granted a pardon a person needs to have waited a period of five years after conviction before being eligible for one. This bars Libby from being a candidate for a presidential pardon.

    The fact that President Bush did not outright deny the possibility of a pardon indicates the magnitude of preventing Cheney from taking a stand in court. Apparently, this would have revealed more damaging information about the administration than has been revealed during the entire court trial. Such acts as striking deals in order to protect one’s own interests and reputation are an indication of the White House’s corruption.

    The practice of blackmailing is not non-existent either. The aforementioned possibility of a deal between Libby and the president is based on blackmailing. Libby would only consider cooperation with the prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald if the possibility of a pardon were diminished. The ‘cooperation’ would mean naming names of other White House staff who were involved with the leaking of the CIA official’s identity. This would cause ultimate damage to the White House and render it incapable of recovery. Tactics such as those used by Libby are responsible for putting some people ‘above the law’.

    Bush, even if he were to grant a pardon to Libby, would most likely do it on the cusp of his stepping off the presidential pedestal. According to New York Post columnist John Podhoretz, ‘For political reasons, Bush can’t pardon Libby earlier than that. His responsibilities as head of the Republican Party, heading into an election year, would preclude such action.’ Here again, we can see the political strategies rendering our political figures incapable of doing what needs to be done. Apparently, the political agenda of a party over law is desirable in the White House.

    Unfortunately, White House officials have forgotten the differences between politics and law, and believe the two terms to be interchangeable. The law states that Libby deserves to be sentenced to jail, but politics gives him the power to use blackmailing as his weapon and prevent that from happening. The game of politics, which benefits the government officials, is preferred over the law, which maintains the purity of justice.

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