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Memo to Karl Rove By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 09, 2007


To: Karl Rove
From: The Conservative Base
Re: Why the President should Pardon Scooter Libby Now

We’ve seen the reports that you and others have been urging the President to let Scooter Libby dangle, especially if Judge Reggie Walton agrees not to put him in jail until all Scooter’s legal options have been exhausted.

Under this scenario, the President would then issue a pardon after the 2008 elections. By that time, the Democrats will have forgotten the case, and most Americans will go back to thinking of “Scooter” as some kid down the block on a bicycle, not a Washington lawyer and former vice-presidential aide, you argue.

So let it ride. Let the air out of the balloon. Time is our friend, you say.

This is wrong for many reasons.

* It sends a message of weakness to the president’s foes.
* It discourages the president’s friends. 
* And it shows that this president, known for requiring the loyalty of his advisors, will not reciprocate that loyalty when the chips are down.

This betrayal may be the worst of all. Failing to come to the aide of Scooter Libby tells the people who have stuck with this president through thick and thin, who have sacrificed evenings and weekends with their families to work 12 and 16 hour days at the White House for modest pay, who have gone on insane trips around the world for no other purpose than to accompany the president or the vice president, that their sacrifices have been in vain.

Forget the war in Iraq for an instant. Do you really want to tell the president that this is the legacy he will be leaving – a legacy of broken promises and of loyalties misplaced?

Remember when the president told you during the 2004 election season that his goal was not just to win one election, but to lay the basis for a conservative future by building a party and expanding the base to guarantee victories for a generation?

We are that base, and we are telling you that by failing to stick up for Scooter Libby, you are betraying us. You are giving into the dark side of compromise and accomodation.

For starters, in counseling patience to the president you under-estimate the venom of the Left. They will continue to slam this president, pardon or no pardon.

In fact, they will go after the president more viciously without the pardon, because they will see him as a man who is down. Just a few more kicks and slugs in the back, and they think they can do him in – maybe even get the “Evil Cheney” to resign!

Seriously, Karl: Do you really believe that by accommodating the calls from Sen. Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosovich to throw Scooter to the dogs you will get their cooperation on anything of importance to the president? Will they vote to continue funding the troops in Iraq? Will they vote to make the tax cuts permanent? Will they approve private accounts for social security or allow you to start the much-needed transformation of our broken health care system? (And if you are thinking that by sticking it to Scooter you will win Democrat support for those cockamamie immigration schemes to give amnesty to illegals, don’t worry: the Dems will support them no matter what you do).

The Democrats and other enemies of the administration will take the president’s refusal to pardon Scooter now as a sign of weakness. And they will take that to the bank.

Consider for an instant the plans of Joe Wilson and his CIA wife, Valerie Plame.

Just hours after the jury verdict came in, they announced with obvious glee that they now plan to pursue their own civil suit against Scooter,  claiming millions of dollars in damages for having “outed” Valerie Plame (in addition to Ms. Plame’s $2 million book contract, of course).

We all know how absurd that claim was from the start. 1) Scooter didn’t “out” Valerie Plame; Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage did. 2) When Armitage went to the FBI and told them he feared he was the source of the Robert Novak column that sparked the controversy, they determined that no law had been broken.

Why? Because Valerie Plame was not covert. She was working a desk job at the CIA’s Center for Weapons Intelligence Nonproliferation and Arms Control, WINPAC.

Friends of the Wilsons have suggested that she may have had a covert assignment briefly while in Belgium in the 1990s, but that all ended with her high-profile marriage to former diplomat Joe Wilson in 1998.

No covert operations officer puts her real name on a registered deed and co-signs a mortgage, as Valerie Wilson did on May 4, 1998 for the newly-weds’ house on Charleston Terrace in Washington, DC. If she ever had a cover, it was gone at that point.

Victoria Toensing helped write the Intelligence Identities Protect Act while working for Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1982. She says that the law is crystal clear: to be considered “covert,” a CIA officer must have been serving overseas in an undercover position within the past five years. “This requirement does not mean jetting to Berlin or Taipei for a week's work. It means permanent  assignment in a foreign country,” she wrote nearly two years ago. 

More importantly, the Agency must take “affirmative measures to  conceal [the agent's] relationship” to the United States.

That certainly wasn’t the case for Mrs. Wilson. Toensing writes:

“There are ways of perceiving whether the government was actually taking  the required necessary affirmative measures to conceal its relationship  with Plame. We can look, for example, at how the CIA reacted when Novak  informed the press office that he was going to publish her name. Did the general counsel call to threaten prosecution, as we know has been done to other reporters under similar circumstances? No. Did then-Director George  Tenet or his deputy pick up the phone to tell Novak that the publication  of her name would threaten national security and her safety, as we know is  done when the CIA is serious about prohibiting publication? No. Did some  high-ranking government official ask to visit Novak or the president of  his newspaper syndicate to talk him out of publishing -- another common strategy to prevent a story? No.”

But if the President steps up to the plate and grants a pardon to Scooter now, the dynamic changes.

All of a sudden, the Democrats in Congress may begin to actually fear the presidential veto pen (unwielded until now except for once). Perhaps this president will stand up to their schemes to pull troops out of Iraq? Perhaps he will veto bad legislation to publish the long-classified budget of the U.S. intelligence community? Perhaps –just perhaps – he will take out his line-item pencil, and cancel earmarks dear to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Machiavelli noted wisely that it is always better for a Prince to be Feared than Loved.

It’s time, Karl, to encourage this president to take the high road.

Pardon Scooter Now!

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Kenneth R. Timmerman was nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran. He is Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum: 2005).


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