Archive for Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hilton, Libby in same legal boat

June 16, 2007

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John Edwards, the millionaire turned populist, suggests that the Paris Hilton case bolsters his argument that there are "two Americas." Of course, for presidential candidate Edwards, targeting the left end of the Democratic Party, everything proves that there are two Americas.

Certainly, Edwards himself proves there is more than one America. After all, not too many of us put their millions into overseas investments, are paid $500,000 a year to advise a hedge fund and enjoy $400 haircuts.

But what about the implication of Edwards' argument - reinforced by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who said last week that the Hilton case had "all the appearances of economic and racial favoritism" - that criminal justice, too, is divided between the privileged and unprivileged?

Well, for openers, differential justice, at least in Los Angeles, is not necessarily based on ethnicity. In 2006, the actress Michelle Rodriguez, sentenced to 60 days in jail on a drunken driving charge, spent just a couple of hours in the can before her lawyers got her released.

Which is to say Paris Hilton, the pouting little rich girl, is being singled out for harsh treatment. Evidently, the presiding judge in this case, Michael T. Sauer, was determined to make an example of her. So when Hilton's lawyers pulled strings to beat the rap - even though such string-pulling is par for the course - the infuriated Sauer ordered the heiress back to jail.

So score one for middle-class morality. Because John Edwards is wrong. There are not two Americas, rich and poor. There are three Americas: The rich, the poor and those in the middle. It's the middle class - the Silent Majoritarians who pay their taxes and play by the rules - who ultimately control the politics of this country, thanks to their preponderant voting power.

The rich tend to think they can buy their way out of any jam by hiring lawyers, spin doctors or a month or two at some deluxe rehab resort. And the poor - at least those nonstrivers who listen to professional grievance-mongers such as Sharpton - often see the law as some sort of imposition on their freedom.

So the rich and the unmotivated poor often are found in alliance against the middle class. The rich don't wish to obey, for example, the drug laws, figuring they can afford the consequences of a wastrel lifestyle. And the poor - more precisely, the lumpen underclass - figure they have nothing to lose, so why not enjoy?

Thus, it's the middle class and those who aspire to be middle class - those who know they need to stay sober to hold a job and make the mortgage - who become the bulwark of conservatism and law enforcement.

And this instinct toward enforcing the law, even against the rich and powerful, has nothing to do with race. A case in point is another judge, on the other coast, Reggie Walton. An African-American from a hardscrabble town in Pennsylvania who made his name as a drug law enforcer, appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush, Walton has always stood for equal justice under the law.

And so, having presided over the conviction of former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby on four felony counts, Walton was unimpressed by the blizzard of special pleadings on Libby's behalf from big shots that showered into his courtroom. Indeed, like Sauer in the Hilton case, Walton seems to have been annoyed by such obvious finagling on behalf of a privileged defendant. So Walton sentenced Libby to a tough 30 months in the slammer and invited Libby's big-shot friends to use their legal talents to help less fortunate defendants.

So let justice be done, to both Hilton and Libby. And, by the way, let's remind John Edwards that most Americans are in the middle - not at the top, not at the bottom.

- Pinkerton's e-mail address is pinkerton@ix.netcom.com.

Comments

Crossfire 8 years ago

Libby and Hilton are not the same other than having cute first names.

Paris Hilton was born to privilege. Her "crime" (even though it could have) hurt no one. She is doing minor time for a minor crime. Big party planned by her mommy when she is free.

Scooter (cute) Libby was in a position of trust. He thumbed his nose at all the people of this country. His crime is major. His punishment is minor. He conspired with the most powerful criminals in this country to get us into a war. A war that has cost too many lives and too much money. (more than the whole Hilton fortune)

Stay tuned for Scooter's pardon. "Good job Scootie." "Thanks Dubba."

drewfuss 8 years ago

Ummm, someone (the author) seems to have forgotten that Edwards wasn't born with millions. He must have lucked into it, since poor people are "unmotivated" "nonstrivers" who don't respect the law. I'm sure the author sleeps well knowing he is better than this "lumpen underclass"... seriously, who says lumpen?

erod0723 8 years ago

Let's just all agree that our judicial system is worthless. How bout some good ole fashioned anarchy?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

Apparently, all you sycophants forget what Bush said when the Plame scandal first came to light-- a full investigation would take place, and heads would roll.

Of course, no full investigation took place, mainly because BushCo chose coverup and spin, rather than to fully cooperate with the investigation. There were a few chinks in their coverup scheme, which meant LIbby was the one who got caught perjuring himself in front of the grand jury.

Good prosecuters only prosecute when they have a case that has a good chance of conviction, and there is pretty broad consensus that Fitzgerald is damn good at his job. Of course, Libby is a bit of a fall guy, but as Cheney's Chief of Stafff, he was clearly complicit from the word go in nearly every aspect of BushCo policy decisions and implementation. Even the conservative Republican judge appointed by Dubya agreed that the evidence against him was "overwhelming." Just because there are almost certainly higher ups in the administration for whom the coverup and spin was successful doesn't mean that LIbby should get a pass on this. He betrayed his oath of office, and deserves what he got.

BTW, Godot, your posts are often characterized by stretches of irrelevancy, but bringing in the prosecutor in NC into this is just plain silly.

Crossfire 8 years ago

...didn't ever even emply that republicans are the only ones who need to do time for the crimes...

Crossfire 8 years ago

Bush should pardon him before Libby spends a day in jail. ...maybe let him do his time at Walter Reed changing sheets and cleaning up. ...a little time taking care of the heros.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

Bill Clinton is reprehensible on many levels-- but It's one thing to lie about an extramarital affair (which is not illegal, btw,) and an entirely different matter to lie about the lies that took the country to war, and has cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, is draining the national treasury and tying the military down in an endless quagmire in the middle of a full-scale civil war.

Begging His Pardon by Bill Moyers "We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites - the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers. Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail."

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/06/16/1926/

deec 8 years ago

This thread is about Libby and Hilton, not Clinton. Those of you obsessed with Clinton might endeavor to remember that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

I wonder why the judge, a conservative Republican appointed by Dubya, called the evidence against Libby "overwhelming?"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

Now that Kevin has as shiny new name, every thread on this forum is again about Clinton.

Crossfire 8 years ago

I think Kev is just too broke to pay attention.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"I think the liberals here have helped made my point by imediately thinking of Clinton."

Oh come on, Kevin-- it was clear you were referring to Clinton, as you nearly always do-- you just lack the integrity to own up to it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"When you compare Libby's case with Clinton's, it's difficult to argue that we have "equal justice under the law."

I really wish Clinton had resigned-- Gore would have been a better president. But this isn't about Clinton, and there is absolutely nothing unjust about Libby getting sentenced after a trial that left absolutely no doubt about his guilt. But Kevin doesn't care about that because LIbby is one of the popular kids with secret decoder rings, and he'll defend him to the hilt.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"Isn't it a sad commentary that when I mentioned the law-breaking of a former president, you liberals all immediately thought of Clinton?"

Yes, it is sad that your decades of droning on and on about Clinton gives such a predictability to your posts. You really need to deal with your obsession about a president 6 1/2 years out of office, Kevin.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

There goes Kevin, droning on and on about Clinton in a thread that has absolutely nothing to do with him.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

I don't want Kevin banned. The forum is much more entertaining with him around (as soon as you develop an ear for droning, that is.)

Crossfire 8 years ago

Keep him around... We all like cattle rustlers and Kennebunkport cowboys.

dthroat 8 years ago

And thanks to ALL the polical wrangling by a couple of folks, this is probably too late to try to get the focus back to the article.

What I have a problem with is comparing Paris' crime to Libby's. Paris flaunted the rules and violated the laws ON HER OWN and has noone to blame but herself.

I find it very hard to belive Libby is not a scapegoat for higher ups. Not that I agree with what he did, and I don't mind the sentence; I just think he was left hung out to dry for the "more important' people. I personally think they should be in the cell next to him, whoever they are.

DaveR 8 years ago

Have any of you actually lived in southern California? Any of you been the victim of SoCal police? Hilton was locked up for violating parole stemming from a drunk driving arrest. In SoCal, driving with ANY amount of alcohol will get you busted. There is the legal limit, and then there's what they do to you if you're under the limit, ie, driving legally. Under the limit, you're a "wet reckless". Penalties & fines are virtually identical. I have an old friend who was busted on both sides of that line. Paid for an attorney both times. Wasted her money, in my opinion.

The lockups are nasty. I presume Hilton's lawyers - the expensive high powered sort - got her mandatory jail time (2 days?) commuted after her initial arrest. Which sucker-punched her into abusing her parole, which got her sent to the slammer for real.

Do I have sympathy for her? Yes. A lot. Young adults are often foolish & often end up paying a price. But governments are obliged not to be deliberately cruel, and SoCal "justice" often is, as I have seen with my own eyes.

Scooter is an accessory to mass murder. 30 months at the upscale, rather cushy place where he's going will be a lot easier on him than the 40-odd days Hilton will spend. The question is why we tolerate cruel & inhuman prisons. Why aren't all prisoners treated like Scooter?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

I see Kevin is back droning already.

Yea, sure, put Albright in a cell, too.

DaveR 8 years ago

Hello Kevin (hope I've got the name right),

The Clinton regime deserves to be taken to the woodshed, not because He Had Sex While In Office (big deal!), but because they weren't brave enough to stop ongoing crimes against Iraq, which were started by Bush I. Which Bush II used as an excuse for even greater crimes.

I'd like to get a lot of stuff out in the open. Gulf War I was a crime. Continued American warfare against Iraq during Clinton was a crime. The current war is a crime. I get tired of living in a criminal state. It's embarrassing when dealing with natives of other lands. Which I do a lot.

As Larry Flynt handily proved, everybody in Washington has sex & everybody lies about it. That's one of the perks of being a senator, or a representative, or, for that matter, one of their top aides. When you're the guy in charge, your libido grows by leaps & bounds. It is further tormented by females who throw themselves at you (we should all be so lucky!) So far as my president is concerned, I will give him all the girls he wants, PROVIDED that he knows that none are spies for foreign powers. If Monica had been a Chinese agent, I would have favored stringing up Willie by his willie. Until the two were separated.

Godot 8 years ago

Nifong has been disbarred for lying and willful deception and many other corruptions of the legal process, all for personal gain, in the stripper v Duke LaCrosse team case.

Nifong has lost his job and his ability to earn a living in his chosen profession in an extraordinary example of professionals policing their own.

Libby was caught, basically, in a failure to remember who he told what, in a case that did not involve a crime to begin with. He has lost his job, and now has been sentenced to jail for lying to investigators about a non-crime.

Will Nifong end up in jail? His actions were extremely harmful to society. Shouldn't he be punished with imprisonment for his willful deceptions?

Will the same process that resulted in disciplinary action against Nifong be applied to Patrick Fitzgerald?

DaveR 8 years ago

Hello Godot,

We can't just make up things because they are convenient. Scooter is a convicted felon. His attorneys were at least as high-powered as OJ's, but they failed. Maybe if you or I had been on the jury, things would have been different, but we weren't & they aren't.

There will be plenty of opportunities for appeal. If the judge was unfair & the trial a circus, then at some point in the appeal process the conviction will be thrown out. If appeals are exhausted & the conviction remains, then we may conclude that he really is guilty of a crime. Might not be a crime to you, might not be a crime to me, but neither of us sets the rules & the guilty party, in this case, 1. was trained in law (which I am not), 2. served many years in the government in Washington, so that, 3. he would be expected to know the rules.

The first rule, of course, is that you do not lie to a grand jury when they are investigating some alleged crime. Scooter didn't out Valerie Plame. Scooter lied about his involvement with those who did, thus preventing further investigation. Which may or may not have resulted in further indictments. Law enforcement takes a very dim view of lying on someone else's behalf, which is known as obstruction of justice. This is what Scooter (unlike Bill) did. Lie & face the penalties. No surprises here. (You would reward him? Really?)

What's good enough for the kitchen table just will not work in the larger setting. It is frustrating so many Americans do not understand how the game is played on the highest levels, nor why.

Godot 8 years ago

DaveR wrote: "We can't just make up things because they are convenient."

Excuse me. What do you suggest that I made up?

Godot 8 years ago

DaveR wrote:"Scooter didn't out Valerie Plame. Scooter lied about his involvement with those who did, thus preventing further investigation."

You cannot just make things up because they are convenient. Richard Armitage outed Valerie Plame, and he admitted it, was given ammunity, and the investigation of the non-outing continued from there.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

I'm still curious if any of you have any idea why the judge in Libby's case, a conservative Republican appointed by Dubya, called the evidence against him "overwhelming."

Or would you rather just continue droning on about Clinton?

BTW, DaveR's post on Iraq I, post Iraq I, and Iraq II pretty well sum up my feelings. The Clinton administation at least moderated its criminality-- BushCo are criminal to the core.

Godot 8 years ago

That Libby lied about what he said to people about what he knew about Valerie Plame is not in question. And neither is the fact that he did not out her; nor did Dick Cheney, nor Karl Rove, nor GWB.

Richard Armitage outed Valerie Plame, he told Fitzgerald that he did early in the days of the investigation, yet Fitzgerald continued his investigation after he already knew who committed the non-crime.

The trial was not in any way about "outing Valerie Plame." It was about "gotcha". And playing that game should be a crime.

Fitzgerald needs to pay.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"That Libby lied about what he said to people about what he knew about Valerie Plame is not in question. "

Yep, and he did it to a Grand Jury, which is why he was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Fitzgerald merely did his job, and you sycophants can't stand it the one of the secret-decoder-ringwearers got caught doing what they do best-- lying.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"What would you consider an extreme amount?"

Invading and plunging Iraq into full-scale civil war, which leaves the children there now even more vulnerable than they were under Saddam and sanctions.

Why are you so pathologically incapable of criticizing BushCo? Whatever Clinton did is absolutely no defense for BushCo driving this and many other countries off a cliff.

camper 8 years ago

I wonder why Libby didn't just say that he deleted his e-mails like some of his other colleauges. Everyone knows the US government does not have a reliable back-up system like most business organizations and millions of ordinary PC users. Maybe they had something else on him.

Godot 8 years ago

camper, the kind of inuendo you just wrote is exactly what the bar association was trying to stop when they brought the charges against Nifong for his malicious prosecution of the Duke Lacrosse players.

If Fitzgerald could have brought more serious charges against Libby, he would have done so. The fact is, he was not able to bring a single charge related to the myth that Valerie Plame was "outed" as a CIA agent, which was the reason Fitzgerald was appointed in the first place.

If Fitzgerald had behaved honorably, he would have resigned the moment Richard Armitage admitted to being the person who revealed to the press that Valerie Plame was Joe Wilson's wife, and was a CIA employee, and that she was the one who had suggested that her non-CIA husband be the person to go to Nigeria to look for evidence that Saddam Hussein was seeking to obtain yellow cake.

In fact, if Fitzgerald have behaved honorably, he would have begun investigating the connection between Plame, Wilson and the Democratic party.

camper 8 years ago

Godot. Valid point. I did not mean to use inuendo. Was only trying to bring into the discussion the Karl Rove e-mail scandal. This struck my curiosity because most of us know that backup systems are a common data-safety control prevelant in most IT systems. Of course there may be more issues involved such as classified intelligence etc. I cannot critique this scandal much further because I have not read up on it completely. But it did seem rather odd.

Godot 8 years ago

Nutcfase, a jury determined that there was evidence that Libby lied about things he said to investigators; it had nothing to do with the Bush administration. It was about one person's statements regarding his recollection of conversations with others, months after the fact.

That is all it was.

What did you say to someone, anyone, yesterday? Do you recall? If the Lawrence DA were to ask you what you said to a specific person, months ago, and you did not remember, and made a mistake, should the DA be able to send you to jail for 30 months for something you said that had nothing to do with the prosecution of any crime?

THERE WAS NO CRIME COMMITTED UNTIL FITZGERALD CAUGHT LIBBY IN A LIE, AND FITZGERALD WOULD NOT HAVE CAUGHT LIBBY IN A LIE IF HE HAD ENDED HIS INVESTIGATION AS OF THE MOMENT WHEN THE CULPRIT OF THE CRIME FITZGERALD WAS APPOINTED TO INVESTIGATE CONFESSED TO FITZGERALD IN EXCHANGE FOR IMMUNITY!

Libby lied. It is a fact. Fitzgerald, like Nifong, abused his power as a prosecutor. He should serve a jail sentence as should Libby and Nifong, except that Fitzgerald and Nifong should stay in prison long after Libby is released

Godot 8 years ago

Okay, nutcase. I will remind you of this if you are ever targeted in a case where a DA has an inkling that a crime has occured, who then learns the identity of the person who committed the suspect deed, after which the DA determines the deed is not a crime, after all, and then continues to investigate the crime, and, after interviewing hundreds of people, catches you in a "lie" over conversations that you do not correctly recall having had months earlier. I will be behind you in hoping that you do not go to jail in such a fishing expedition.

Godot 8 years ago

Nifong was not found guilty of "an abuse of power." He was found to have engaged in unethical behavior, to have lied to the court, to the defense, and to the public; to have withheld information that would have proved the people he accused were, in fact, innocent, to have made statements to the press that prejudiced the public against the accused, but not convicted, persons, and to have done all this for his own personal, Democrat party, political gain, at a time that he was up for re-election, as were other Democrats.

Nifong is about to lose everything he has worked for for himself and his family his entire life. He deserves it. I feel sorry for Nigong's family, but I do not have a shred of sympathy for him. Except, I hope he has a good divorce attorney.

Godot 8 years ago

Nutcase, Fitzgerald could not prove what you state, yet you perpetuate the lie. Admit it, your team beat up the water boy.

Godot 8 years ago

Did Fitzgerald tell Libby, prior to questioning him and bringning him before the grand jury, that Armitage had already confessed to ,"outing" Plame? If not, why not?

How is this not similar to what Nifong did when he continued to prosecute the Duke players when he knew they had not committed the crime?

Godot 8 years ago

Nutcase, are you saying that questioning people just to see if they slip up in order to charge them with a crime is okay with you? Libby lied about something that was not a crime. He just lied. Period. And he is going to jail for 30 months, and lost his job, and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend himself.

I trust you ALWAYS remember what you say to people, forever and ever, and you ALWAYS tell the truth. .

camper 8 years ago

If I may jump in. Why was the Karl Rove e-mail scandal presented as a data retention problem rather than a federal security issue? Did they believe that the public would for that? I work for a moderately small company where all e-mail messages are saved on a distant server in addition to a damage-protection area elsewhere (on tape). If these issues are not solved this scandal resembles the Nixon Watergate tape issue. I suppose we will see what unfolds.....Probably nothing.

jonas 8 years ago

I think some of us may find agreement in an erroneous severe conviction for Scooter Libby, as it is pretty clear (and here's where I undoubtedly diverge again from the Libby supporters, drones that they are) that the real crime was undoubtedly committed higher up the ladder, that Libby is nothing more than a convenient fall-guy for his bosses, and that an egregious abuse of our system of justice has been perpetuated by the administration, on a scale much bigger, to my mind, than a simple and worthless political perjury, that some folks are so obsessed over. There is a high possibility that Clinton's final impeachment was on par with citing Al Capone for taxes, given the many shady deals and rather ominous coincidental evidence, but the sheer political nature of the investigation and the charges were what caused the whole situation in the first place, and allowed him "to skate free." There is a high possibility as well that members of the administration, out of spite, outed the name of an undercover CIA agent, a supposedly capital crime that will, apparently, not get prosecuted, either against them or against that archetypal tool Novak, which is abhorently rediculous.

So welcome to the politics of the modern times. And if all you can talk about is one or the other, and if only one side gets your apparent forgiveness, then your vision is skewed, and you should simply be aware of that fact.

Crossfire 8 years ago

Wrong. Adultery is a misdemeanor in Washington, D.C. Silly Ferd not gettin' any is a miss-da-meaner. Da more I miss it da meaner I get. Who cares? Scheese...

jonas 8 years ago

If it was simply about adultery, that would be one thing, but, circumstantially, it's not. It's about perjury. It is true that the question should NOT have been asked in an inquisition, and that it was purely a political question, asked under the context of a spurious and worthless culmination to an investigation. It's also totally understandable that Clinton answered the way he did, given the circumstances, but it's still true that he did, in fact, lie under oath.

What Ferdinand, of course, will continue to fail to realize, with his blatant, obvious, and crippling biases, is that the Clinton incidence is a vilification of the entire political system as it exists today, which certainly includes Clinton itself. But, mired in his ridiculous political stances, and his Quixotian desire to defend those skewed and biases views and positions, there is little hope that he will ever reform.

Which makes rising to his baits something of a waste of time. At least, it does in my humble opinion.

jonas 8 years ago

That is, Clinton HIMSELF. I certainly don't wish to grant him anything other than a human face.

Crossfire 8 years ago

I believe that GB plays the hapless idiot quite well. Acting the fool is only part of a scheme to give his administration plausible deniability. ...not a new concept. The Mafia used it for years. So every time he plays the stuttering idiot, remember, he is laughing harder at us than we are at him.

Oracle_of_Rhode 8 years ago

Paris Hilton & Scooter Libby & Hillary Clinton have a lot in common. They're all enemies of the people of this country.

erod0723 8 years ago

"Not only does the far-left not like her, 75% of Americans don't like her. Let's see, that leaves Bam-Bam and muchacho bonito de dos Americas." I'm not a fan of Hillary at all, but you are completely wrong on this. Take a look at the polls. Hillary is the leading dem candidate at this point. Would that be possible if 75% of people hated her, as you claim? How bout you get some facts to support your illogical claims.

Crossfire 8 years ago

Paris 4 President 2oo8

The oral office done in pink and the cool little Taco Hell Dog on the desk. The war on terror would be over.

jonas 8 years ago

If you say so. I'm sure that you've obsessed over. . . errrr, followed, the case far closer than I did at the time.

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