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Richard Cohen in the <em>Washington Post</em>: Prosecuting Libby Worse Than Patriot Act

Cohen's suggestion is that Scooter was railroaded by some secret, insidious government tribunal, à la some third-world dictatorship or old Eastern Bloc country. Spare me.
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Talk about too long in the Beltway....I've spent the occasional week in D.C., but certainly haven't got the years -- nay, decades -- of longtime Washington pundits.

Exhibit A is Richard Cohen. I couldn't write the piece he wrote June 19 in favor of President Bush commuting the sentence of Scooter Libby. I hope most Americans couldn't have written it, either.

Particularly, I couldn't write this: "...government officials should not lie to grand juries, but neither should they be called to account for practicing the dark art of politics."

They shouldn't be called to account? Is that all that Libby et al were doing when they, um, peddled the name of a covert CIA officer to their personal friends in the Fourth Estate for purely partisan purposes? Just "practicing" a dark art?

He's saying the people should accept and then ignore this reality? Sorry, we can't.

I also couldn't write this: "prosecution {by the} government...poses much more of a threat to civil liberties, including freedom of the press, than anything in the interstices of the scary Patriot Act."

Cohen's intimation here is that Scooter was somehow railroaded by a secret, insidious government tribunal, à la some third-world dictatorship or old Eastern Bloc country. Spare me.

In an open democracy like ours, as we all watched, the federal prosecution of Libby took place under the harshest of media spotlight, in the nation's capital, from jury selection to closing argument.

The Patriot Act, so broadly written that it's aimed at John Doe and Jane Smith in Des Moines or San Antonio as much as real terrorists abroad, is far more insidious precisely because Doe and Smith are beyond the "Beltway" world that constitutes Cohen's view. It doesn't get him in a snit because it's past the microscope of the national press. Out of sight, out of mind.

Give this country several decades of the Patriot Act and we'll see an America that de Tocqueville wouldn't recognize but Stalin and Castro damn sure would.

Some of these D.C. scribes are too fat and lazy for our own good.

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