In the United States, a single count of perjury is a serious crime — a felony, to be precise, carrying a maximum sentence of up to five years under federal law.
But not according to Fox News contributor Monica Crowley.
Appearing on a June 12 broadcast of The O’Reilly Factor, Crowley claimed that when the former top aide to ex-Vice President Dick Cheney lied to investigators trying to determine who leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent, he was ultimately prosecuted “over nothing.”
“Look, in the Valerie Plame thing, the left pounded Cheney and they pounded Scooter Libby, and they ended up prosecuting Libby over nothing,” she said. “Plame was not even a covert operative. It was over nothing. Nobody did anything. There were no national security secrets to come out.”
That discussion took place Tuesday night as part of an ongoing effort to equivocate one of the Bush administration’s biggest scandals with the recent publication of national security secrets by reporters who learned that the U.S. and Israel jointly developed the Stuxnet computer virus, and dug up details on a “kill list” the U.S. uses for its drone missile strike program.
It is not yet clear if a member of the Obama administration let those details slip, and Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate how the press got this information. That move has led even some liberals and progressives to criticize the administration for “criminalizing investigative reporting.”
But that’s not all this administration has done. It is clear now that President Barack Obama has been tougher on leakers than any prior U.S. president. Take Pvt. Bradley Manning, for example, who’s been locked up for years now after he allegedly leaked vast amounts of data from the Pentagon’s internal social network to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. And that’s just a single case: prior to Obama, the Espionage Act had only been used in prosecutions three times since 1917, whereas this president has applied it on six separate occasions in just his first term.
Fox News, however, would like its viewers to believe otherwise. Their hosts have, in recent weeks, declared the administration guilty of selectively prosecuting leaks in some cases while using them for political advantage in others — in spite of the fact that there is no evidence yet to substantiate that claim.
This messaging strategy also involves a careful defense of the Bush administration, a member of which knowingly leaked the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, allegedly to get revenge on her husband, a U.S. ambassador who’d published an essay that undermined a key argument Republicans were using to make the case for war with Iraq.
As a result of that leak, Plame’s network of spies — who were working on finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and rooting out details of Iran’s nuclear program — collapsed. Then her husband’s business dried up. Then the couple began receiving death threats. Once it was settled that whoever revealed her status as a covert CIA agent had committed a serious crime, a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate, and the trail of clues led straight to the White House.
Still, nobody was ever convicted for leaking her identity.
Instead, Scooter Libby, then chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, claimed he was scarified to protect the White House, and particularly chief political strategist Karl Rove, from potential criminal charges. Prosecutors alleged that he perjured himself and a jury agreed, convicting him on four counts of lying under oath and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to more than two years in jail.
While President Bush commuted that sentence, Libby did not receive a pardon. As Bush explained: “I respect the jury’s verdict.”
But Monica Crowley? Apparently not so much.
This video was broadcast by Fox News on Tuesday, June 13, 2012, as snipped by the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America.