Capital Briefs: June 11-15

LIBBY SENTENCED, REAL LEAKS IGNORED: I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and hit with a $250,000 fine last Tuesday for his perjury and obstruction of justice convictions as a result of the investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the circumstances surrounding the alleged leak of the CIA employment of Valerie Plame, wife of outspoken White House critic Joe Wilson. Most conservatives view Libby’s sentence as far too severe and are looking to President Bush to grant him a pardon as soon as his appeal process has ended, or even sooner if the judge moves to send him to jail before the appeal is over.

Libby was charged with “process” crimes.  None of the charges against Libby sought to punish him for the leak.  In fact, no one — including the actual leaker, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage — was ever charged with any crime for leaking Plame’s name. The failure of the Justice Department to prosecute anyone for leaking Plame’s name is almost certainly due to the fact that she was not a “covert agent” whose identity was protected under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

This highlights the continued failure of the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute the most serious leaks of top-secret information.  Since 9/11, there have been leaks about CIA secret terrorist prisons, the NSA terrorist surveillance program, the cooperation of the Belgian SWIFT financial consortium in tracing terrorist financing, and a top-secret presidential determination to take covert action against the terrorist regime in Iran.  None of these leaks has been investigated thoroughly or prosecuted.

AMNESTY FOR CRIMINALS:  On June 6, the Senate rejected an amendment to the immigration bill pushed by Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) that would have barred a path to citizenship for alien absconders—illegal aliens who are defying a court order to be deported. The Senate rejected the proposal on a 46-to-51 vote. Thirty-nine Democrats and the two Democrat-leaning Independents voted against the Cornyn amendment, as did these 10 Republicans: Larry Craig (Idaho), Pete Domenici (N.M.), Lindsay Graham (S.C.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Richard Lugar (Ind.) Mel Martinez (Fla.), John McCain (Ariz.), Arlen Specter (Pa.) and George Voinovich (Ohio).

LEFT STILL SMEARS TOMLINSON:  There appears to be no end to the extent the left-wing media will go—including outright fabrication—to smear conservative Ken Tomlinson, who recently departed as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs U.S. international broadcasting.

It was Tomlinson who first exposed last December that the U.S.-funded Arabic TV station Alhurra had broadcast live an hour-long rant by a leading Hezbollah terrorist. For months, Tomlinson stood alone on the broadcast board demanding an investigation of wrong-doing exposed in Wall Street Journal columns by Joe Mowbray — including ridiculously straight coverage of the holocaust denial conference in Tehran.  Tomlinson alone demanded that the editorial leadership at Alhurra be replaced.  Finally, “NBC Nightly News” got around to reporting on the Alhurra broadcasts. And whom did reporter Andrea Mitchell blame?  Ken Tomlinson, citing a long-discredited inspector general assertion that he ran a thoroughbred race-horse stable from his government office.  Moreover, the I.G. charge was issued more than a year before the reports of problems at Alhurra.

REMEMBERING SEN. THOMAS:  Capitol Hill was somber last week as senators mourned the June 5 passing of Sen. Craig Thomas (R.-Wyo.).  Thomas, 74, had been battling acute myeloid leukemia, but never wavered in his dedication to his Senate duties during the illness.  Sen. Michael Enzi, Thomas’s fellow Wyoming Republican, recounted to Congressional Quarterly that even during his battle with cancer in the last year, Thomas “timed his chemotherapy so he didn’t have to miss votes.”  Thomas’s death leaves several committee vacancies that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) and the GOP caucus must fill.

Wyoming’s Senate succession law requires a vacancy in the Senate to be filled by someone of the same party as the outgoing senator. Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal will choose a successor to Thomas from one of three names soon to be submitted by the Republican state committee.  Among the names mentioned are those of Rep.-at-large Barbara Cubin, former State Party Chairman and Assistant U.S. Atty. Gen. Tom Sansonetti and State Rep. Colin Simpson, son of former Sen. Alan Simpson (R.-Wyo.). Political junkies are even mentioning Second Lady Lynne Cheney, a Wyoming native, as a possibility, but don’t realistically think the 66-year-old wife of the Vice President would look forward to going home for a strenuous election campaign next year.
RUDY AND FRED UP, MCCAIN DOWN:  As the amnesty debate intensifies, the issue has clearly taken its toll on the chief Senate sponsor of the measure, John McCain.  In the latest Rasmussen Poll, McCain is running behind even still-unannounced former Sen. Fred Thompson for the first time as the presidential favorite of likely Republican primary voters. 
Thompson has formed an exploratory committee, and in an interview on Fox News’ “Hannity and Colmes”after the June 5 Republican debate, he announced the debut of his web site,  When asked by Sean Hannity about rumors of his announcement date, he said, “We haven’t decided on a date. Fourth of July is just as plausible as any other, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the Fourth of July.”
According to Rasmussen, Rudy Giuliani leads the field with 23%, followed by Thompson with 17% of the vote, Mitt Romney at 15%, and McCain—in his worst-ever showing in the poll—at 14%.  All three of the candidates now running ahead of McCain oppose the immigration bill that, Rasmussen showed, only 9% of Republicans believe will stem the current tide of illegal immigration.

NO NEWT RACE, SAYS WEBER:  The former Republican congressman considered the closest friend and ally of Newt Gingrich when they were backbenchers in the House together in the 1980s sees little chance the former speaker will enter the GOP presidential race.  Vin Weber, former Minnesota U.S. House member, told Human Events Political Editor John Gizzi last week: “I talk to Newt all the time.  I don’t think he’ll get in.”  Weber, who is policy chairman for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, told Gizzi that, while Gingrich “never has said he’s not going to run,” he feels his friend will “take a look in the fall and realize that raising money under this system when the limit is $2,300 per person makes starting an organization very difficult.” Others close to Gingrich have told Human Events that he is looking more toward a race in 2012.

JEFFERSON FINALLY INDICTED: Rep. William Jefferson (D.-La.) was indicted June 5 on 16 federal charges of bribery.  Jefferson temporarily gave up his seat on the Small Business Committee while the case is pending.  According to Congressional Quarterly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) is urging the Ethics Committee to examine Jefferson’s actions as quickly as possible. Republicans in the House will be glad to point a finger at this Democratic scandal, which comes not even a year after their vigorous 2006 campaign against GOP ethical lapses.