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10139645.jpgRobert F. Bauer’s “pardon Libby” post now carries a disclaimer to the effect that he speaks only for himself, and Barak Obama’s campaign responds:

Bob was speaking on his own behalf. Senator Obama opposes a pardon and strongly believes that Libby should be held accountable for his actions.

So are we to accept that the General Counsel for the Obama campaign stepped out on his own in such a high profile way with such a hot button issue and the candidate had no knowledge of it? I seriously doubt John Edwards knew Mudcat was going to run his mouth like that in Swampland, but I have to say that this I find hard to accept.


Obama is on record saying this:

Wright: Another person who enjoys extraordinary privilege in our justice system, Scooter Libby, should he go to jail?Obama: I think that based on the evidence and conviction that he deserves jail time, yes.

Wright: Full sentence?

Obama: Well, I have not followed the case closely enough to want to render a judgment on what would be typical in these types of sentences but what I can say is, he obviously betrayed the basic principle that you tell the truth to investigators to federal investigators. He did not do that and I think that’s a problem.

Wright: And if the President were to pardon him would that be a travesty of justice?

Obama: I think that people expect that if someone breaks the law that they are treated like other people who break the laws regardless of the connections or contacts they have.

It’s pretty thin gruel. Yes it would be a travesty of justice, because the President would be stiffling an investigation into the criminal activities of his own administration. That’s not what a presidential pardon is supposed to be used for.

I think there are two things to consider here. One Christy brings up:

It also raises some interesting questions in terms of what he expects if Obama wins the campaign. Last I checked, people who work on campaigns generally hope to gain a position in a subsequent administration if their candidate wins in a whole lot of cases. If Mr. Bauer thinks that the rule of law is malleable in terms of politically expedient questions of the moment, then we ought to be asking the questions now rather than in a confirmation hearing later, don’t you think?

And another, from commenter Redshift:

Even if he’s not someone who advises on policy or is supposed to represent the campaign to the public, it’s not just a high-level position, he’s their legal advisor, right? If Obama’s legal advisor is saying publicly that the law should be subordinate to political gain, he’d better fire his ass. We’ve had more than enough of that for the past six years.

I like and respect Senator Obama and think he’s done some very smart things, but the role of General Counsel is not an inconsequential one. As Rick Perlstein notes, Richard Nixon had one in 1973 and his name was G. Gordon Liddy.

We probably are looking at the very real possibility of a pardon (especially since Judge Walton will be deciding tomorrow whether Libby stays out on bail pending appeal). I don’t think this is the appropriate time or issue to be triangulating.

Digby also weighs in, and doesn’t think Obama ought to be listening much to anyone making such a sophomoric argument in the first place. And Jeffrey Feldman has a theory of his own.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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