Hardball: David Shuster smacks down Scooter Libby defender
On MSNBC's Hardball on Friday, guest host David Shuster reported on a fresh controversy surrounding the Scooter Libby pardon.
In a Wall Street Journal column on June 8, conservative Fouad Ajami wrote "Scooter Libby was a soldier in your -- our -- war in Iraq. He can't be left behind as a casualty of a war our country had once proudly claimed as its own." That remark has sparked widespread outrage.
Ajami appeared with Shuster to defend himself, saying testily, "I don't really need to be lectured on the soldiers killed in Iraq. ... I have a nephew serving with the US military as a lieutenant in Iraq. ... You have to be able to handle a metaphor." Ajami then began laying out a set of standard talking-points, begining with the familiar argument that Libby was not really the person who leaked Valerie Plame's identity.
"I know where you're going with this," interrupted Shuster. "You said, 'Oh, we know that Richard Armitage wasn't the leaker,' as if there was just one leaker. ... Richard Armitage would have only had this information about Valerie Wilson only because Scooter Libby asked the State Department for the information. ... Seven different people talked with Scooter Libby about Valerie Wilson. ... Vice President Cheney told Scooter Libby about Valerie Wilson."
When Ajami attempted to continue with the assertion that "there had been no underlying crime," Shuster broke in again, pointing out that "the whole issue was that because Scooter Libby lied and obstructed the investigation, Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was not able to make a call."
"This should never have been criminalized to begin with," insisted Ajami. "This was part of the debate on the Iraq War."
"Why do you believe that Scooter Libby lied to the FBI, lied to the grand jury if this was simply a matter of politics?" Shuster replied.
Shuster then invited Iraq veteran Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, to respond to Ajami's comments. Rieckhoff said, "I think it's absurd David. I think it's a new low and an act of desperation here to defend a man, comparing him to fallen soldiers. ... Part of the soldier's creed is to say that you will uphold the Army values and live the Army values. Those values include honor, integrity, personal courage. They don't include lying and breaking the law."
Rieckhoff continued, "If you are going to use us as props for a political argument to defend Scooter Libby, you have to understand that we're going to push back. Scooter Libby does not embody the Army values. He is not an honorable soldier by breaking the law and lying."
At the end of the segment, Fouad Ajami returned with an attempt to connect the 9/11 attacks to the war in Iraq. Shuster quickly cut him off, saying, "Mr. Ajami, I'm not going to let you end this with the idea that Iraq was part of 9/11, when everybody knows that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11."
The following video clip is from MSNBC's Hardball, broadcast on July 6.