June 12, 2007

Like a mile without a friend

William Abranowicz, Boat, Santorini, 1995

* Salon's Glenn Greenwald reacts to Joe Klien's thoughts on Scooter Libby and the perjury charge. excerpt:

"It is difficult to recall a single episode which has been more revealing of our political culture than the collective Beltway horror over the plight of the poor, maltreated and persecuted (and convicted felon) Lewis Libby. It is hardly surprising that the right-wing movement of which he is a part operates from the premise that their comrades ought to be exempt from criminal prosecution even when they commit felonies. That "principle" is a central and defining one for that movement, applied religiously to the Leader and everyone on down the right-wing food chain.

"But what the Libby case demonstrates is that so many establishment journalists believe this just as religiously. To our media stars, 'Beltway crime' is an oxymoron, at least when it is committed by a high-level political official. In exactly the way they treated all prior acts of lawbreaking by Bush officials as innocuous political controversies, the Beltway press speaks of Lewis Libby's felonies as being something other than a "real crime," all so plainly based on the premise that Libby -- as a dignified member in good standing of the elevated and all-important Beltway court -- ought to be exempt from the type of punishment doled out to 'real criminals' who commit 'real crimes.'

"Time's Joe Klein yesterday became but the latest in a long series of Beltway pundits expressing righteous anger over the grave injustice of One of Them being sent to something as low and common as a prison. In a post entitled 'Thoughts on Sentencing,' Klein actually argues -- seriously -- that it is imperative for the public interest that Paris Hilton receive jail time because 'it is exemplary: It sends the message . . .that even rich twits can't avoid the law,' but:

"I have a different feeling about Libby. His "perjury"--not telling the truth about which reporters he talked to--would never be considered significant enough to reach trial, much less sentencing, much less time in stir if he weren't Dick Cheney's hatchet man. . . .

"But jail time? Do we really want to spend our tax dollars keeping Scooter Libby behind bars? I don't think so. This "perjury" case only exists because of his celebrity--just as the ridiculous "perjury" case against Bill Clinton, which ballooned into the fantastically stupid and destructive impeachment proceedings.

There are so many fallacious and misleading assertions packed within just these few sentences that it is difficult to know where to begin.
"But the most glaring falsehood in Klein's Libby defense is also the most easily disproven: namely, Klein's claim that 'perjury' is something for which people are not convicted and imprisoned unless they are 'celebrities' or 'Dick Cheney's hatchet man.' A very quick and basic Google search (which so many Beltway pundits like Klein, and his boss Rick Stengel, have repeatedly proven themselves too slothful to perform), or even a casual perusal of Klein's own comment section, quickly turns up the following, demonstrating just how false is Klein's assertion that Libby is the unfair victim of 'celebrity' prosecution."
"And this Time Magazine article from January 13, 1975, details that the majority of Watergate criminals served jail time for perjury and obstruction of justice. When prosecutors conclude that someone is deliberately attempting to conceal the truth in an investigation of public importance, it is common -- and has been for quite some time -- for them to pursue perjury and obstruction of justice charges for reasons that are self-evident. But Klein here is interested only in defending Lewis Libby and the license of Beltway power, and is willing to make any assertions, no matter how fact-free, in service of that ignoble mission.

"The reason Bush officials have believed they can simply break the law with complete impunity is because the Beltway culture in which they operate believes that. Most importantly, our media stars absolutely believe that, that lawbreaking by the most powerful political officials who rule their world is not real lawbreaking, even when they are convicted in a court of law -- after ample due process and with the best legal defense team which Marty Peretz and Fred Thompson could help pay for -- of committing multiple felonies."
"It is so painfully revealing, though equally unsurprising, to read one of our most prestigious pundits, the Leading Liberal in Time Magazine, argue that Paris Hilton should be imprisoned as an example of the stern rule of law that prevails in our country but convicted felon Lewis Libby -- who deliberately lied under oath to the Grand Jury and as part of an FBI investigation -- should be set free. Or that George Bush's spying on Americans in violation of the criminal law is a matter of mere political controversy which Democrats ought steadfastly to avoid. There is no class of people more defensive of the prerogatives of political power than our 'journalist' class, even though, in a healthy and functioning democracy, the exact opposite would be true."

* The relationship between Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

* "Studios are passe for me. I'd rather play in a garage, in a truck, or a rehearsal hall, a club, or a basement." -- Neil Young


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