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I Beg Your Pardon?

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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OLD FRIENDS Libby, Rich (inset) The Republican Noise Machine has gone on the offensive trying to defend President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence, slinging some nearly decade-old mud at the Clinton Administration over the pardoning of fugitive financier Marc Rich. But there may be one person involved with the Scooter Libby scandal who disagrees with this logic: Scooter Libby.

Libby was Rich's lawyer from 1985 through 2000, collecting more than $2 million in legal fees over the period. In early 2001, during the fallout over the pardon, Libby appeared before Congress (above) and testified that he thought Rich had "not violated tax laws" and that federal prosecutors had "misconstrued the facts and the law" during the course of their investigation. In a New York Times editorial, President Clinton said Libby—then chief of staff for Vice President Cheney—supported the decision to pardon Rich. sub req.

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Republicans are quick to imply that Bush's decision to spare Scooter is less egregious than Bill Clinton's eleventh hour pardon of Rich. As Tony Snow grimly intoned, "If you look at pardons and commutations, they've been very careful in this White House. Not every White House has done that." Matt Drudge went so far as to include a list of pardons granted by President Clinton with links to his own stories on the Libby case. Mitt Romney—who did not expressly support the commutation—said, plainly, that the Left will want to avoid pointing fingers lest people recall the Clinton White House, which "handed out pardons like they were lollipops."

Maybe David Brooks has it right: Everyone who touches this case ends up looking like a hypocrite. Sub req.

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