Ajami makes the case for Libby pardon

You are not a lawyer, Mr. President, nor is the vast populace out there. The men and women who entrusted you with the presidency, I dare say, are hard pressed to understand why former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who was the admitted leaker of Mrs. Wilson’s identity to columnist Robert Novak, has the comforts of home and freedom and privilege while Scooter Libby faces the dreaded prospect of imprisonment.

Fouad Ajami is Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. A courageous man because he has been willing to speak in favor of democracy in the Middle East — an extremely not-politically-correct viewpoint in American universities.

In this WSJ op-ed Ajami argues, effectively I think, for Libby’s freedom.

…A process that yields up Scooter Libby to a zealous prosecutor is justice gone awry.

…A war raged in the inner councils of your administration. The Department of State and the CIA let it be known that they were on the side of the angels, that they harbored great doubts about this expedition into Iraq, that they were “multilateralists” at heart, but that they had lost the war to Vice President Dick Cheney and to the “hawks” around him. In the midst of this, Scooter Libby worked tirelessly and quietly to prosecute and explain and defend this war. He accepted the logic of the Iraq war, the great surprises we met in the course of this war.

He was never a triumphalist. The man I got to know in the aftermath of 9/11, the man you know so much better, was stoical about our causes in the Arab-Islamic world. He was a man of great depth. He knew moral complexity (his remarkably lyrical novel, “The Apprentice,” bears witness to an eye for human folly and disappointment) but he stuck to your agenda and to this war. He was not steeped in the ways of the Arabs, but he sought out, tirelessly, all that could be ascertained about the radicalisms threatening our country. From my vantage point as an interpreter of Arab and Islamic matters, I could testify to his great curiosity and relentless devotion. He was keen to understand the winds at play in the Islamic world. This legal process thus removed from the higher ranks of our national security a man of real abilities and insight.

The Schadenfreude of your political detractors over the Libby verdict lays bare the essence of this case: an indictment of the Iraq war itself. The critics of the war shall grant you no reprieve if you let Scooter Libby do prison time. They will see his imprisonment as additional proof that this has been a war of folly from the outset.