A no-pardon pledge for Libby?

Don't count on it

Published March 6, 2007 9:22PM (EST)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded to the news of Scooter Libby's conviction today with a statement in which he says that "it's about time someone in the Bush administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics."

It's hard to disagree with the majority leader on that point, and he's certainly right when he says that the Libby trial "revealed deeper truths about Vice President Cheney's role in this sordid affair." But when Reid says that President Bush must now "pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct"? Well, a guy can dream. If the White House wouldn't rule out a pardon on the front side of the 2006 midterm elections, what possible incentive would it have for doing so now?

Maybe there will be a time -- say, just before November 2008 -- when either politics or Libby's date with prison will force Bush's hand. But until then, we won't be holding our breath for anything other than the sort of non-responsive response White House spokeswoman Dana Perino handed out today: "I don't think that speculating on a wildly hypothetical situation at this time is appropriate," she said when asked about a pardon for Libby. "There is a process in place for all Americans if they want to receive a pardon from a president... And I'm aware of no such requests."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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