The I. [Scooter] Lewis Libby Story. Project for the New American Century

Project for the New American Century

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

The life of I. [Scooter] Lewis Libby is a long, stunning, and sometimes inglorious tale.  However, this story for the most part remains a secret saga, a surreptitious legend, even though it is the subject of much scrutiny.  Today this chronicle continues.  After the esteemed adviser to the Vice President was convicted on criminal charges, and repeatedly told he must serve time in prison, regardless of filing an appeal.  President Bush reached out to his fine friend and said you have suffered enough.  Indeed, Bush Spares Libby 30-Month Jail Term.  Will wonders never cease, or will they ever begin. 

Many thought this President’s decision was as expected.  After all, the former Chief of Staff Libby is not only liable for sharing State secrets, he is partially responsible for the ‘Rights’ rise to the top.  There is ample reason to believe I. Lewis Libby helped get George W. Bush elected.  Scooter secured the Intelligence that provided a means for the Bush plan, a war on Iraq.  The President and Mister Libby have a long-standing relationship.

Much of the story is yet to be revealed, and we know not whether we will ever have all the details.  Nonetheless, we can probe into the past as best as we are able.  I. Lewis Libby is not an open book.  He does not disclose more than he needs to.  However, we do know a bit of his history.

Fortunately, in 2005, Slate Magazine Journalist, John Dickerson furnished a few revelations.  Mister Dickerson asked the question that has never fully been answered Who Is Scooter Libby?  The response was as mysterious as the man himself.  The author noted ‘Scooter’ is a brash Texan who has plotted the President?s advance for twenty-five years.  Dickerson went on to explain.

Libby is a neocon’s neocon.  He studied political science at Yale under former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and began working with his former teacher under Cheney at the Defense Department during the George H.W. Bush administration, thinking about grand national security strategy in the post-Cold War era.

When a document outlining their thinking leaked to the New York Times, the foreign policy establishment, including many of the more moderate voices in the first Bush administration, howled at its call for pre-emptive action against nations developing weapons of mass destruction.  After 9/11, what was once considered loony became the Bush Doctrine.

Libby is not political in the glad-handing way he looks as lost as Cheney at Republican Lincoln Day dinners.  But he plays internal politics with force and lack of emotion.  If the State Department under Colin Powell hated Dick Cheney, it hated Scooter almost as much, viewing him accurately as a pre-eminent member of the cabal hell-bent for war with Iraq.

It was Libby who sat with Powell in the final session before Powell’s U.N. speech, eyeing every detail to make sure that the Secretary of State didn’t water down the case.

Perchance, adviser Libby did not want the General to expose the errors in Intelligence, if these were ever revealed to Secretary Powell; thus, Scooter was coaching, or is it couching the circumstances.  With thanks to Scooter Libby the stage was set.  The misperceptions that allowed the United States to begin their assault on any nation these fine fellows thought a threat were spread far and wide.  The plan, once labeled ?loony? was ready to implement.  The project for a New American Century was ‘moving forward.’

I. Lewis Libby had done his job well.  He preformed as a man serving at the pleasure of the President would under similar circumstances.  Scooter honored his President.  Auspiciously and simultaneously, this convicted felon pleased his pals in the White House, and was able to act in a manner consistent with his own neoconservative philosophy.  At least this is what we must believe based on the limited information available to us, the expectant public.

We may never know all the details.  This man and his musings are mesmerizing; yet, elusive.  However, we can as the conservatives often say, “connect the dots.”  We might wish to assess the life of the man or begin with the culminating event that shades so much in this abstract picture.  Let us look at a pivotal moment in the life of I. Lewis Libby.

In 1997, the Project for the New American Century was established.  Mister Libby was among the original founders.  While many know of this organization and speak of its power, most Americans remain oblivious, or at least that is my experience.  Only days ago, I mentioned this coalition of neoconservatives to a peace activist, while we stood together speaking of the war.  She stated, ?I am not familiar with this alliance, the PNAC.

Please allow me to share the story of how, or when America was changed.  You may be among the many citizens that missed this covert operation.

[T]he Project for the New American Century is a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership.  The Project is an initiative of the New Citizenship Project (501c3);

This is a principled group.  In the minds of these founding fathers of the New American Century, our foreign policy was without direction or purpose.  These twenty plus men and a women or two ?decided? they would lead the nation on a course unlike any other.  Instead of promoting peace and diplomacy, these proud neoconservatives would preserve what they believed was America’s superlative superiority with guns in hand. 

The supporters of this institute, fine fellows and females, concluded they must remind America, Might makes Right!? and so they did.  They created a ‘think tank’ with purpose.  Advancing an agenda of American lead global control was the ideology promoted through the ranks, ultimately, again reaching the White House.

Each day as you watch the war, witness your fellow Americans come home in flag-draped coffins, and see civilians casualties increase, contemplate the original plan.  Please know that what we are experiencing is not an anomaly.  It is the neocon’s righteous strategy, a decent declaration depending on your point of view.

Statement of Principles.
June 3, 1997

American foreign and defense policy is adrift.  Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration.  They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks.  But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America’s role in the world.  They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy.  They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives.  And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century.

We aim to change this.  We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.

As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s preeminent power.  Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades?  Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?

We are in danger of squandering the opportunity and failing the challenge.  We are living off the capital — both the military investments and the foreign policy achievements — built up by past administrations.  Cuts in foreign affairs and defense spending, inattention to the tools of statecraft, and inconstant leadership are making it increasingly difficult to sustain American influence around the world.  And the promise of short-term commercial benefits threatens to override strategic considerations.  As a consequence, we are jeopardizing the nation’s ability to meet present threats and to deal with potentially greater challenges that lie ahead. 

We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration’s success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.

Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power.  But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise.  America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.  If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests.  The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire.  The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today.  Here are four consequences:

  • we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global  responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
  • we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
  • we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
  • we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

    Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today.  But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.

    Elliott Abrams
    Gary Bauer
    William J. Bennett
    Jeb Bush
    Dick Cheney
    Eliot A. Cohen
    Midge Decter
    Paula Dobriansky
    Steve Forbes
    Aaron Friedberg
    Francis Fukuyama
    Frank Gaffney
    Fred C. Ikle&nbsp
    Donald Kagan
    Zalmay Khalilzad
    I. Lewis Libby
    Norman Podhoretz
    Dan Quayle
    Peter W. Rodman
    Stephen P. Rosen
    Henry S. Rowen 
    Donald Rumsfeld
    Vin Weber
    George Weigel
    Paul Wolfowitz

  • The signers are quite a cast of characters.  A few of these names you may recall.  Many of these persons are prominent in recent history.  If nothing else, you might have noticed “Scooter” signed this militaristic and principled paper.  Yes, this felon is among the founders of the New America Century.

    Oh, I might contine by speaking of the letter these individuals submitted to the President of the United States on September 20, 2001, one in which these significant sponsors of the all encompassing war effort outline their preferences pertaining to Osama Bin Laden, Iraq, Hezbollah, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the U.S. Defense Budget.  This document makes for good reading.  However, I will save the details for you to savor when you think best.  I only submit the introduction.

    September 20, 2001
    The Honorable George W. Bush
    President of the United States
    Washington, DC

    Dear Mr. President,

    We write to endorse your admirable commitment to ?lead the world to victory? in the war against terrorism.  We fully support your call for ‘a broad and sustained campaign’ against the terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them.  We agree with Secretary of State Powell that the United States must find and punish the perpetrators of the horrific attack of September 11, and we must, as he said, go after terrorism wherever we find it in the world and get it by its branch and root.

    We agree with the Secretary of State that U.S. policy must aim not only at finding the people responsible for this incident, but must also target those ?other groups out there that mean us no good and that have conducted attacks previously against U.S. personnel, U.S. interests and our allies.

    In order to carry out this first war of the 21st century successfully, and in order, as you have said, to do future generations a favor by coming together and whipping terrorism, we believe the following steps are necessary parts of a comprehensive strategy.

    Possibly, I could share the obvious.  Perhaps you dear reader noticed the overwhelming number of signers that years later appeared in the Bush Cabinet.

    However, in this moment I will only focus on the name that is most familiar on this glorious day.  Tonight as you sat down in your easy-chair, or reclined on the couch listening to the news, you may have heard George W. Bush declare.

    The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today rejected Lewis Libby’s request to remain free on bail while pursuing his appeals for the serious convictions of perjury and obstruction of justice.  As a result, Mr. Libby will be required to turn himself over to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison sentence.

    I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals have been exhausted.  But with the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision.

    From the very beginning of the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name, I made it clear to the White House staff and anyone serving in my administration that I expected full cooperation with the Justice Department.  Dozens of White House staff and administration officials dutifully cooperated.

    After the investigation was under way, the Justice Department appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as a Special Counsel in charge of the case.  Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged.

    This case has generated significant commentary and debate.  Critics of the investigation have argued that a special counsel should not have been appointed, nor should the investigation have been pursued after the Justice Department learned who leaked Ms. Plame’s name to columnist Robert Novak. 

    Furthermore, the critics point out that neither Mr. Libby nor anyone else has been charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act, which were the original subjects of the investigation.  Finally, critics say the punishment does not fit the crime: Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury.

    Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice.  They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth.  And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable.  They say that had Mr. Libby only told the truth, he would have never been indicted in the first place.

    Both critics and defenders of this investigation have made important points.  I have made my own evaluation.  In preparing for the decision I am announcing today, I have carefully weighed these arguments and the circumstances surrounding this case.

    Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine.  In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.

    I respect the jury’s verdict.  But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive.  Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.

    My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby.  The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged.  His wife and young children have also suffered immensely.  He will remain on probation.  The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect.  The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.

    The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted.  It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby’s case is an appropriate exercise of this power.

    The founding fathers have spoken.  They provided this President with a means to satisfy his end.  With the Constitution in hand, Mister George W. Bush has the power to fulfill the wildest fantasy of his compatriot.  The venerated men that composed the Constitution did not do the deed that we speak of tonight.  The invocation was not influenced by doctrine written centuries ago.  Yet, just as our forebears gave us America as we once knew it.  These founders of the New American Century give Scooter his freedom.

    I. Lewis Libby can still be and probably will be pardoned.  However, that ruling will have to wait until the Commander-In-Chief can more delicately do the deliberate deed.  For now, the $250,000 must suffice.  Granted, millions have already been raised to assist, support, and defend Scooter after this unexpected ?demise.  Nonetheless, we, the people are expected to believe the ?former? adviser, Mister Libby, and his family, have endured excessive strife.  The ruling was too severe for the crime.  In the mind of Mister Bush, the innocent doer of illegal exploits, his friend Scooter can take no more punishment.  President Bush concluded Libby should and would not need to.  Thus, we have it.

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is the New American Century and we are feeling the effects of a doctrine once called loony.  The Executive Branch is now above the law and creates the edicts that govern the elite  Democracy is not a diplomatic endeavor.  Peace is achieved through war.  Moreover, Scooter is free to be as secretive, exactly as he and others prefer him to be.  The President, our ‘decider’ declares this is the end of the I. [Scooter] Lewis Libby story, or at least this is all that we, the people will hear.  I wish I could share more.  However, secrecy prevails and Scooter is the victor.

    The Project for the New American Century Realized through Libby . . .

  • Bush Spares Libby 30-Month Jail Term,  By Robert Shane and Neil A. Lewis.  The New York Times. July 2, 2007
  • pdf Bush Spares Libby 30-Month Jail Term,  By Robert Shane and Neil A. Lewis.  The New York Times. July 2, 2007
  • ?Who Is Scooter Libby?  By John Dickerson.  Slate Magazine. October 21, 2005
  • Statement of Principles. The New American Century Project. June 3, 1997
  • Lettter to the President.  September 20, 2001  The New American Century Project.
  • Statement by the President on Executive Clemency for Lewis Libby. Office of the Press Secretary.  The White House. July 2, 2007
  • Snow: Bush respected jury’s work with Libby commutation. Cable News Network.
  • Kristol Cracks Under Pressure; States Sheehan is the Leader. ©

    Aug19_ok_bill3Rarely do I write merely to rant.  I work to comment, calmly, and yet, in this moment, I must rage against a political machine, the neo-conservative machine.  Tonight automaton Bill [William] Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, chairman, and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, was among the guests featured on the News Hour.  He spoke in his typical controlled and composed manner.  He attempted to be jovial and conversant.  However, when when the topic of Cindy Sheehan was posed his demeanor changed, instantly.

    When asked of the anti-war phenomenon Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant offered, what for me, is a truth.  He said, “Cindy Sheehan became a metaphor for America’s impatience, frustration, and ambivalence about the continuing American involvement.  However, “It’s much bigger than her.”

    Kristol rebuffed this assessment, stating, “I think it’s grotesque. I think the left has found a new weapon to oppose the president and the war, and that weapon is martyrdom, and they are using the death of a soldier in this case and the mother’s grief over that death to try to, obviously, rally support, as Mrs. Sheehan has made perfectly clear to get the troops out of Iraq.”

    All this was fine; I was enjoying the exchange.  I am very familiar with Bill Kristol and none of his comments were unexpected.

    It was his later statement that compelled me to write.  Kristol extolled, “She’s the leader of the antiwar movement now.”

    The look on his face as he made this claim could have killed.  Being a man that believes in bloodbaths, I feared where he might do. He was livid; his voice cracking, and his face flushed.

    Earlier, he made mention that Sheehan joined the antiwar pressure groups approximately a year ago.  Actually, his exact words were “Mrs. Sheehan has been active in antiwar activities for a year. She’s a member of an antiwar group. She was on Nightline eight months ago arguing against the war in Iraq.”  I wonder; how does this make her a leader?

    Mr. Kristol. I acknowledge that you are a well-educated man, a [supposed] scholar, a graduate of Harvard University, and a man who has achieved much.  Your pursuit and receipt of a doctorate degree is impressive.  You have attained more eminence than most, and this is inspiring.  Yet, when you conclude as you did I wonder. Do you really believe the antiwar movement began only a year ago or that Cindy Sheehan is its leader?

    As a person that has been protesting these Middle Eastern wars since before the first bomb fell, I beg to differ.  There are millions of us that have been against the mayhem for many years.  Cindy Sheehan is not our guide; we are not following her.  We are supporting her, the soldiers, and those whose lives we honor.  Those of us that want peace revere humanity.  We wish you and your President did as well!

    • Mr. Kristol has published numerous articles and essays on topics including constitutional law, political philosophy, and public policy.  He has co-edited several books.  William Kristol composed The Neoconservative Imagination, with Christopher DeMuth.  This book was published in 1995.  He has also co-authored, Bush v. Gore: The Court Cases and the Commentary with E. J. Dionne, Jr., 2001, The Future is Now: American Confronts the New Genetics with Eric Cohen, 2002. Bill Kristol is well known for co-authoring, the best-selling book The War Over Iraq with Lawrence Kaplan.

    Kristol is renowned among the “right.”  He regularly appears on Fox News Channel and the neo-conservatives consider him an eloquent and leading political analysts.  He serves on the boards of the Manhattan Institute, the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs, and the Shalem Foundation.