When I heard the news today of the Presidential commutation of Libby’s sentence I was immediately reminded of the first paragraph of a post by David Friedman a year and a half ago, which I took particular note of and (obviously) have not forgotten.
One thing that may have become clear during those conflicts was that,
if criminal prosecution was controlled by the crown, the King’s friends
could get away with murder.
Now, of course, Libby is neither accused of, nor has he committed murder. But I trust you get the underlying message. The other thing that rings true is how much more clever we’ve become. Rather than simply sway his federal prosecutors, as any President could surely do if he played his cards right, he waited to see if Libby could get off by conventional means. When that failed, Bush took action. By going this route, most people are fooled into trusting in a magical Crown justice. The end result is exactly the same. Don’t be a fool.
I don’t really care; that is, I disagree that Libby did anything immoral. He didn’t hurt anyone so far as I can tell and that’s the only standard that matters to me. How strange it is that all but the most heinous of crimes are devoid of that crucial, immutable, eternal and crucially important element.
Did he hurt anyone?
How hard is that to ask? I suspect that such questions aren’t asked
that much — particularly in this sort of thing — because the answer
is generally "no," or it’s at least a matter of some serious question.
I’m certainly willing to entertain evidence of real, objective harm
inflicted by Libby; but everyone, including the President, talks only
of the law and subjects of investigation and sentencing guidelines and
so forth. How lame. They might as well be talking about proclamations form the Crown, with everyone rubbing their chins in a kind of contemplation that appears stupefying to anyone with a moral conscience.
Radley Balko has up a good post along much the same lines. Libby’s prosecution was BS, but so were a lot of others. Where’s their commuted sentences?