Did Marc Rich Out a CIA Agent?

When I read this:

Former President Bill Clinton blasted his successor’s decision to spare former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby from prison, telling Iowa radio listeners that Libby’s case differed from his own administration’s pardon controversy. “You’ve got to understand, this is consistent with their philosophy,” Clinton said during an interview on Des Moines news-talk station WHO. Bush administration officials, he said, “believe that they should be able to do what they want to do, and that the law is a minor obstacle.”

I figured this was coming:

White House spokesman Tony Snow fired back at former President Bill Clinton after Clinton charged that the Bush administration believes the law is a “minor obstacle” in the “Scooter” Libby case … In an op-ed piece in USA Today on Wednesday, Snow defended Bush’s action, charging that Clinton was “in a mad rush to push through pardons with dizzying haste – 141 grants on Clinton’s final day in office, part of 211 in the final nine weeks.” … Clinton’s flurry of last-minute pardons issued as he left office in 2001 – particularly his absolution of fugitive financier Marc Rich – sparked largely partisan outrage. Critics alleged that the pardon of Rich was linked to contributions raised for Clinton’s presidential library by Rich’s ex-wife. Libby’s defenders have pointed to Democratic support for Clinton during that period to accuse critics of Bush’s commutation order of hypocrisy. Asked by a reporter if he was asserting that “two wrongs make a right,” Snow said: “Do we feel we’ve done wrong? Do we feel we cut corners? The answer is no.”

The answer to the report’s actual question was yes – that precisely was Snow’s game here. But two wrongs do not make a right. Tony Snow, however, made up his own questions – and then lied. The commutation of Libby’s jail time was a continuation of the cover-up of a very serious matter. This Administration outed a CIA agent for purely partisan purposes. That is clearly wrong. And the cover-up is wrong.

I have never excused the pardon of Marc Rich. In my opinion, that was wrong. But that pardon is indeed different than the outing of a CIA agent – unless Marc Rich did out a CIA agent. Did he? If not, Tony Snow was being his usual horse’s a$$.

Update: Since we will have to endure the stupid comments from the water carriers of this corrupt White House as to whether there was a crime or not, let me highlight what Matthew Yglesias and Steve said. First – the key portion from Steve’s comment:

The real issue is what Cheney knew and when he knew it. Libby’s lies were intentionally designed to keep Fitzgerald from getting a closer look at Cheney and determining what role Cheney had in the leak campaign and whether he knew Plame was covert. That’s why the obstruction was a big deal. That’s why no one was charged; the IIPA requires that you prove knowledge and Fitzgerald couldn’t.

Now Matt:

Most of Libby’s defenders – George W. Bush, David Brooks, etc. – don’t seem to be denying that Libby committed a crime by lying under oath to investigators. They want us to say that, rather, he deserves to be treated very leniently because there was no big deal here. The alleged absence of an underlying crime is key to that theory. The converse theory is that there was an underlying crime and the crime can’t be proven because Libby lied to investigators. If that theory is wrong – if there really was no crime – then it seems we ought to get some kind of explanation from Libby as to why he lied … He’s not even trying to convince us that he had some other reason to lie.

Of course he isn’t. This is incredibly simple. Libby knows his boss set this whole thing in motion. In other words, he knows Cheney is guilty as charged. But he knows as does the White House that the only path to proving this in Court is through Libby. So we have the deal. Libby falls on the sword and Bush promises that Libby will not spend one day in jail. Neat trick – eh?