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The Way Out of the Plame Investigation

Tuesday, June 13, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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With today’s announcemnt that Karl Rove will not be indicted, the left may at last give up their pipe dream of scandals that never occured and get on with their politics-based-attacks on the Bush Adminsitration free of demands for perp walks etc.

There remains, however, the matter of Scooter Libbey, and the growing recognition that this prosecution is as unwise as it is unnecessary. The prospect of many big time MSMers on the stand and under oath may thrill those who would like nothing more than to have the “journalistic practicies” of Beltway bigs exposed, but it could be the wrong field on which to contest such serious matters as press privileges, and it also would proceed with the liberty of a fine public servant in the balance.

So does Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald have an option?

He could of course rethink and dismiss the indictment against Libbey, but that seems unlikely in the extreme.

As does the prospect of any Libbey plea to a criminal charge.

But there is a precedent that might have some utility here: The resolution of the case against Bill Clinton for providing misleading testimony under oath:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Clinton will leave office free of the prospect of criminal charges after he admitted Friday that he knowingly gave misleading testimony about his affair with Monica Lewinsky in a 1998 lawsuit.

Under an agreement with Independent Counsel Robert Ray, Clinton’s law license will be suspended for five years and he will pay a $25,000 fine to Arkansas bar officials. He also gave up any claim to repayment of his legal fees in the matter. In return, Ray will end the 7-year-old Whitewater probe that has shadowed most of Clinton’s two terms.

“I tried to walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely, but I now recognize that I did not fully accomplish this goal and am certain my responses to questions about Ms. Lewinsky were false,” Clinton said in a written statement released Friday by the White House.

The admission, which came on the president’s last full day in office, stems from the same allegations that led to Clinton’s 1998 impeachment by the House of Representatives, and the later acquittal by the Senate.

In a statement minutes later, Ray said “the nation’s interest has been served” by Clinton’s admission.

There are two crucial differences of course.

First, Libbey’s alleged misleading testimony occurred before a grand jury, not in a deposition.

But on the other hand, Libbey is a staffer, not the POTUS.

If POTUS’ misleading testimony can be punished via other than a guilty plea, why not this matter, and perhaps in a similar fashion?

Some on the far left might complain, and Libbey might be unwilling to accept other than exoneration, but this does seem one exit that 90% of those who care could accept.

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