“Free Scooter!”

It’s the new rallying cry of conservatives. A banner headline on the New York Post. The demand of editorials in the Wall Street Journal and the National Review. And a pathetic plea from the Prince of Darkness himself, Bob Novak, whose column revealing the identity of Valerie Plame started this whole mess.

Free Scooter Libby? Why? Because he lied to the grand jury? That’s actually very funny. I remember when lying under oath was an impeachable offense. It wasn’t that long ago. And the same people who are crying “Free Scooter Libby” now were crying “Hang Bill Clinton” back then — for the same offense! Except Bill Clinton’s lie was only about sex, and not about national security.

There is absolutely no justification for granting Scooter Libby a pardon and it would be a total travesty of justice to do so. After all, Libby’s no innocent bystander. He knows the law. He was a big-time Beltway defense lawyer. He was Chief of Staff to the Vice-President of the United States. And he was a full, willing participant in an orchestrated campaign to smear Joe Wilson and lie to the American people.

If Libby was a fall guy, he was a willing fall guy. Dick Cheney told him whom to call; he called them. Dick Cheney told him what to say; he told them. Then he knowingly walked into the Grand Jury and lied to protect his boss.

President Bush said that, while he was saddened by the jury’s verdict, he still respected it. Let’s hope he continues to do so. But the only way to respect the verdict is to let it stand by denying Scooter Libby a pardon.

Even President Bush must understand: Scooter Libby wouldn’t need a pardon if he’d only told the truth.