Cohen's latest foray into politics is a curious affair. He all but exonerates Scooter Libby because he's a "previously obscure government official," which is an odd way to describe the Vice President's Chief of Staff, especially in an administration in which the VP seems to be a driving force in administration policy. But it's Richard Cohen: it doesn't have to make sense.
Cohen's basic premise is that Libby really isn't a bad guy; he just got caught lying to a grand jury, and really since his prosecution and imprisonment won't stop the war, then there's no point in pursuing him. And then he tries to spin the investigation into some sort of assault on freedom of the press and civil liberties:
As Fitzgerald worked his wonders, threatening jail and going after government gossips with splendid pluck, many opponents of the Iraq war cheered. They thought -- if "thought" can be used in this context -- that if the thread was pulled on who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to Robert D. Novak, the effort to snooker an entire nation into war would unravel and this would show . . . who knows? Something. For some odd reason, the same people who were so appalled about government snooping, the USA Patriot Act and other such threats to civil liberties cheered as the special prosecutor weed-whacked the press, jailed a reporter and now will send a previously obscure government official to prison for 30 months.
How sad. How very very sad. Is it even possible to conflate issues of the Patriot Act with long-standing legal procedures, including the jailing of journalists for failure to reveal their sources? Miller went to jail over the time-honored tradition of journalists refusing to give up their sources, and for that she should be honored (although for nothing else: her war-drum reports and parroting of administration falsehoods in the lead up to the Iraq War pretty much ruined her reputation), but it's hardly a new thing that the government tries to get the information and the journalist refuses to turn it over. Cohen is like Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski trying to equate everything to Vietnam.
Cohen sums up his article by joining the "Pardon Libby" chorus, an ensemble made up initially of the most rabid right-wing shits available, the ones who would have pardoned William Calley and still won't admit that Nixon was a criminal. Now apparently anyone can join. Sure, I think it's sad that Fitzgerald didn't go after Rove or Cheney, but given the limitations and stonewalling from this administration, we should be thankful that he caught any fish at all. Libby was not an "obscure government official" as Cohen would have it, but rather an integral part of BushCo's plotting against the United States and attempts to undermine civil liberties (Cohen seems to forget that the press intimidation really took place on the other side of the coin, with Plame's name being leaked as retaliation for Joe Wilson's newspaper column critiquing the case for the Iraq boondoggle).
And while it would be nice is some of his superiors also traded their tailored suits for prison jumpsuits to keep him company, as far as Libby goes, 30 months isn't long enough.