As far as the pundit class is concerned, the trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was never about lying under oath. It is and always has been about putting the Iraq War on trial. The first item I read covering Libby’s guilty verdict was from NBC news. Directly following the lead are these lines:
The conviction focused renewed attention on the Bush administration’s much-criticized handling of weapons of mass destruction intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.
The verdict culminated an almost four-year investigation into how CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name was leaked to reporters in 2003. The trial revealed how top members of the Bush administration were eager to discredit Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of doctoring prewar intelligence on Iraq.
The sub-text of these lines is clear. The Libby conviction equals and indictment of the entire Bush administration and the case that it made for war against Iraq. You can expect to see the mainstream press spinning this story along these lines in the coming months and years, but this spin is misleading to say the very least.
I have already written extensively about this topic on this blog, so I’m not going to rehash all that material now (click here to see previous posts). For the present, it’s sufficient to say that it’s a non-sequitor to make judgments about the run-up to the Iraq war based on the Libby conviction. The war was not on trial. Libby was.
For a good summary of how this case relates to the Iraq War, see James Taranto’s “The Libby Travesty.”
Stories about the verdict: