Lawrence O'Donnell went on Countdown last night with some harsh words for all those Libby love letter writers.
Lawrence O'Donnell: Now I'm waiting for every one of these letter writers, especially Kissinger, especially Rumsfield, especially Pace, I'm waiting for their letters to the court martials that are going on right now in the United States, young Marines who were put in impossible situations in Iraq, Keith, who find themselves on trials now that will jeopardize their freedom for the rest of their lives because of split seconds decisions they made in a war that they should not have been in.
When those kids get sentenced in their court martials, if they do, in this country, is General Peter Pace going to write a letter to their sentencers about what kind of mercy they deserve? Is Henry Kissinger who never ever saw a shot fired in his life, never spent a moment in battle, but was a champion of sending soldiers into battle in this country and to their deaths, is he going to write a letter asking for mercy for these American Marines who found themselves in this impossible war situation in Iraq, and now find themselves on trial for their lives? Who are the letters going to come from for them? (full transcript below the fold)
OLBERMANN: Of the 174 people who wrote to Judge Reggie Walton
extolling the virtues of Scooter Libby in the hopes of diminishing his
sentence, one name was most conspicuously absent, that of his former boss,
the vice president of the United States.
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, with the fall guy under the bus,
are the others responsible for the outing of Valerie Plame in the clear?
That in a moment.
First, we`ll look at those who did ask for leniency for Dick Cheney`s
former chief of staff.
Administration adviser Henry Kissinger, who said he was impressed with
Libby`s, quote, "dedication, seriousness, patriotism, and essential
decency." Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, who poetically described
Libby`s heavy workload, quote, "as information flowed across his desk on a
daily basis like water coming out of a high-pressure fire hydrant."
Mary Matalin, former aide to the vice president, sent a letter co-
signed by her Democratic strategist husband, James Carville, pleading with
the judge to think of the children. Quote, "I have seen what this trial
has done to my own kids, just their reading about it. I cannot imagine the
toll on Scooter and Harriet`s young ones."
The children aside, considering that it was the war in Iraq that put
Scooter Libby in his current predicament, it seemed singularly appropriate
that many of the leniency letters came from the chief architects,
supporters, and enactors of that war, General Richard Myers and General
Peter Pace, Richard Perle and James Woolsey, Douglas Feith and Donald
And Paul Wolfowitz, who, in observing that it was he who first brought
Libby into civil service in 1989, noted, quote, "It is painful for me to
reflect on the fact that his life would have been very different if we had
Yes, like Wolfowitz couldn`t say something like that about everybody
in this country.
I`m joined now by our political analyst, Lawrence O`Donnell, who also
contributes, of course, to HuffingtonPost.com.
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you,
OLBERMANN: Did Paul Wolfowitz`s observation that he is somewhat
responsible in something of a roundabout way for Libby`s predicament today
strike you as perhaps more insightful than he meant on the surface?
O`DONNELL: Well, if what he means is, having pushed himself,
Wolfowitz, for the start of the Iraq war, and somehow, once he started or
helped get that war started, but then lying under oath then became a
mandatory way of supporting that war, then I guess, in some perverse,
twisted version of his mental processes, he could suggest that he`s
responsible for this.
But if what he`s simply saying is, Wolfowitz feels responsible because
he was the one who talked Libby into working in government, then what
Wolfowitz has delivered is a biting insult to me and everyone else who has
worked in this government in Washington, without ever having found it
necessary or tempting to commit perjury under oath to FBI agents and to
federal criminal grand juries.
How did Wolfowitz himself manage to get through government service
without committing perjury to a federal grand jury, Keith, if he thinks
that it is a normal risk of being in this occupation?
OLBERMANN: Yes, I think you could -- it`s a superb point, and you
could roll it all the way back to Abraham Lincoln. He insulted a lot of
people just then.
To another person connected to this, obviously, the vice president,
did Dick Cheney, thanks to Scooter Libby, thanks to this actual practical
presentation of jail time, did Cheney get away with a federal crime in the
leaking of Valerie Plame`s name?
O`DONNELL: I don`t think so, because I don`t think Patrick Fitzgerald
was in the business of letting anyone get away with the federal crime.
What Fitzgerald has said very clearly is that there is a cloud over the
vice president in this case. The vice president was the one, the first
one, who told Libby who -- about Valerie Plame, about her identity.
Whether that was a violation of the statute protecting that identity
doesn`t seem very clear. It seems like it wasn`t, because Fitzgerald knows
about that exchange. He doesn`t think that that fit the elements of the
statute, which, by the way, the first time we ever discussed this on MSNBC,
I said that`s a very, very difficult law to break. I think that`s the way
Fitzgerald read it. It requires very specific intent and a bunch of
conditions in it that is are hard to meet.
So I don`t think Fitzgerald found a criminal exchange of that
information which he chose not to prosecute. I have to agree with
Ambassador Wilson`s previous very graceful comments on your show here
tonight, Keith, that this was justice done, as far as justice could be
brought to the activity that Patrick Fitzgerald uncovered.
OLBERMANN: Returning to the subject of insults, the former CIA agent,
Larry Johnson, who is periodically on this program, brought this up earlier
today. How inappropriate is it that people who deal with our national
security, like the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Pace, write
letters asking for leniency for someone who jeopardized a member not just
of the intelligence community, but if -- unless we`re all wrong about this,
an asset in the war against weapons of mass destruction and their
O`DONNELL: It is shocking that someone holding that position today
would make that assertion that leniency is necessary here. How about Henry
Kissinger, whose career was built on secretive information obtained through
intelligence sources? Donald Rumsfeld, the same thing.
Now, I am waiting for every one of these letter writers, especially
Kissinger, especially Rumsfeld, Especially Pace, I`m waiting for their
letters to the court-martials that are going on right now in the United
States, young Marines who are put in impossible situations in Iraq, Keith,
who find themselves on trials now that will jeopardize their freedom for
the rest of their lives, because of split-second decisions they made in a
war that they should not have been in.
When those kids get sentenced in their court-martials, if they do, in
this country, is General Peter Pace going to write a letter to their
sentencers about what kind of mercy they deserve? Is Henry Kissinger, who
never, ever saw a shot fired in his life, never spent the moments in
battle, but was a champion of sending soldiers into battle in this country
and to their death, is he going to write a letter asking for mercy for
these American Marines who found themselves in this impossible war
situation in Iraq, and now find themselves on trial for their lives? Who
are the letters going to come from for them?
OLBERMANN: It is, there`s a template, we have a template, at least,
for that, the Wolfowitz phrasing. "It is painful for me to reflect on the
fact that his life would be very different if we had never met." Maybe we
can do that.
One last question. The prosecution here is complete, the appeals yet
awaits. What are the prospects of a presidential pardon? Or is that
simply a radioactive device that the president can`t touch?
O`DONNELL: I think the presidential pardon is virtually guaranteed.
I don`t know whether he waits until the last day on his way out the door.
The Republican candidates in debate now are all hedging it. They`re all
saying, Well, I`ll look at it very carefully. They`re -- Rudy Giuliani
very strongly leaning toward favoring a pardon. I think you`re going to
see it increase as a presidential campaign issue for the Republicans.
And I think the Libby defense has always been aimed at the pardon,
Keith. I said it on your show a year ago that they were manipulating a
media campaign to try to get to the pardon here. I think they will succeed
with this president on this pardon.
OLBERMANN: Political analyst Lawrence O`Donnell. Our great pleasure.
Thank you, sir.