By commuting Scooter Libby's jail term, George Bush proved something to us--not that it needed more evidence to be taken as fact.
It proved that Bush and his cronies care more about political expediency than they do about your security.
Valerie Plame Wilson was an undercover CIA agent working on weapons of mass destruction issues. Conservatives have tried to argue that this isn't true, but the Agency has confirmed it--not that there was any real doubt in the first place, just the usual smokescreens. It's clear from a reading of the original Robert Novak column outing her that he knew it, too, since he referred to her in language he had only used in the past to refer to working undercover agents, not to "analysts" or other, less classified Agency employees.
Now the conservative smokescreen-du-jour is that Libby shouldn't even have been tried, much less convicted and sentenced to a jail term, because there was "no underlying crime."
The truth is, we don't know that for sure. Chances are, there was an underlying crime, unless Bush himself declassified Plame's identity. It's possible that Cheney has that power, and did so legally, in which case exposing her was barely legal. Without that shred of legality, outing her was indeed illegal. And either way, revealing her identity also compromised her whole network of sources and contacts and leaves all Americans more exposed to the threat of WMDs than we would have been if she had kept her covert status.
Not only that, but the whole reason she was exposed was to punish her husband for pointing out the truth in a NYT editorial--that the claim that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger was false, and the administration knew it was false when Bush made the claim in a pre-war State of the Union speech.
So what happened was this--in order to dodge criticism of its intention to wage war on Iraq (which had not attacked us on 9/11, and had no WMDs), a war that would divert resources from the real war against Al Qaeda, being waged then, as now, in Afghanistan--the administration exposed a CIA agent who was working to protect us from real WMDs.
Then, caught, they let Libby take a fall to protect Cheney and Rove, who Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation proved were involved in the leak. Libby lied under oath and did his best (successfully, as it turns out) to hamper the investigation--acts which are themselves crimes, whether or not any "underlying crime" had been committed.
Finally, Bush commuted Libby's sentence. Which means that not only will Libby not go to jail for his crimes, but now there's no pressure on him to tell what he knows about others who may have been involved in the leak. So if the leak was criminal, we may never know. Bush's priority was protecting his friend (and Cheney's) and shielding the real leakers--who, remember, he had already promised would be "taken care of" (and apparently he used those words deliberately, because he has taken care of them--instead of protecting the American public.
Commuting the sentence or pardoning Libby were both options legally available to Bush, and it's his choice to do so. But he has to live with what that decision tells the world about his presidency--that he considers the law of the land no more than a minor inconvenience, and that all his talk about "keeping America safe" really is just talk.
Here's Keith Olbermann, asking Bush and Cheney on MSNBC last night to resign.
What can we do? We can demand that Congress hold Bush and his accomplices accountable. Here's a MoveOn petition to that end.
Harry Reid has a letter to the president, expressing outrage. You can sign on here.
You can also call the White House at 202-456-1414 and express your own outrage.
And you can refuse to vote for, or financially support, any candidate who supports this travesty of justice.