Today is President Bush’s last full day in office, and according to Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, he has decided not to pardon Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby for his role in the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity. The move has left many conservatives very disappointed:
“I’m flabbergasted,” said one influential Republican activist, who had raised the issue with White House aides, but who asked not to be identified criticizing the president. Ambassador Richard Carlson, the vice chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neo-conservative think tank, added that he too was “shocked” at Bush’s denial of a pardon for Libby.
“George Bush has always prided himself on doing the right thing regardless of the polls or the pundits,” Carlson said. “Now he is leaving office with a shameful cloud over his head.”
The right-wing had been mounting a fierce campaign to secure a pardon for Libby. Fred Barnes wrote in the Weekly Standard that Libby necessitated a pardon because he was “an indirect victim” of Bush’s policies. And the Wall Street Journal editorial board claimed that Bush “owe[d] it” to Libby. In July 2007, Bush commuted Libby’s prison sentence.