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Middle managers may fret over Scooter's sentence

Scooter Libby CNN

Yesterday Scooter Libby was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for his role in the Valerie Plame scandal. Essentially, the court system seems to have found that in spite of Libby's long record as an attorney, in spite of his key position in the corporate infrastructure of the White House, in spite of the long list of names implicated in the leak of Plame's name to one of the Administration's favorite running dogs in the media, it is, in the end, the middle manager who gets the short end of the stick.

Once again, as I have in the past, I am not alleging any impropriety by anybody who might see such allegation as a legal matter that needs adjudication. I have no inside knowledge of the situation. I'm sure the Courts are right, and only Mr. Libby deserves to be locked up for this breach of national security. Those who have read a lot about the situation, and studied it carefully, might not concur, but me? I'm a big fan of the system. Always have been. Glad it worked out for the best, as always.

Still, those of us who take orders for a living have to feel a little bit anxious. I don't know if anybody has made this observation yet, but in my view, strictly as a faceless bureaucrat who sees himself as a cog in a well-functioning organizational machine, the chance of me going out on a limb and initiating an action on my own like the one Mr. Libby is going to jail for... is nil.

Let me put that another way. People like me, who work inside a reporting structure that we understand and respect, who defer to much more public and powerful figures, may think for ourselves, but we never act for ourselves. We confer. We listen. Hard. And in the end, we execute the decisions that are extruded from the collective will and mind of the group and its leaders.

So excuse us if the incarceration of a functionary makes us a little trembly. We like to think that when we take a scary action in the name of our corporation, we will be protected in some way from the wrath that might follow. As any student of government, businesses or Shakespeare might tell you, however, loyalty flows only one way in the big game.


12 Comments Add Comment

Whining utter horse crap! When you are questioned by the FBI and then a grand jury under oath, be smart enough to tell the truth or at least lies that cant be countered.
Libby's not going to jail for outing Plame but lying about it. Tell the truth and have no fear.

This is not an indictment of a middle manager; it is the result of person following orders that he knew, or as an attorney and long term government employee, had reason to know, would cause him to commit perjury. It is the lying that he has been convicted of; not the "outing" of Ms Plame at the orders of his big cheese, Dr. Death Cheney.

So yes, middle managers are supposed to tell the truth to a grand jury. That is not a cog in the wheel; that is an underpinning of the justice system.

He should go to jail. He committed a crime.

Yes, but ONLY him?

My comments to follow after review by my supervisors. Will cc Legal.

So many judgmental comments posted. I don't know his motive or his reasoning. However, I do know, he who hasn't sin...well you know the rest.

I am not "excusing" his action. Just stating most people have done something that was illegal. The "weight" of a sin doesn't add or substract to scales of absolute truth and justice. Next time you render an opinion without knowing all the facts, make sure you aren't standing in front of a mirror!

Under normal circumstances, people lie about all sorts of inconsequential things all the time. When an IRS agent asks how you're doing, you generally reply something like, "pretty well, and you?" instead of pointing out that any day you spend speaking to an IRS agent is horrible.

In Scooter's case, he treated the entire investigation as inconsequential, as it actually turned out to be. Unfortunately, in the current politicized environment, anything he said would be subjected to extreme scrutiny in order to have his scalp.

It doesn't seem to matter whether you're on top, on the bottom, or middle management, however -- the combination of this result and Martha Stewart's prosecution makes a compelling case against any willing cooperation with any government investigation.

Jeff, you have a good sense of humor.

Please! Whether you are part of the rank and file, a middle manager, or a high ranking government official, you have the option of resigning rather than lying for your boss/bosses. Libby made his choice. It's time to pay the price. Too bad Cheney won't be his cell mate if indeed he actually serves any time.

I guess my thought is that I agree with all of you. One should not lie for one's superiors. One should not impede a Federal investigation. I just wonder why retribution seems to have selected one hapless individual in the entire scenario who is judged by these elevated standards. Not that anybody else was guilty, mind you. The issue for me is more about loyalty and its limits. And I do think there's a lesson here on that subject.

Tell the truth or get a lawyer.

So, in this instance you didn't like the middle manager going to jail for the imprecations of the boss. Well, I didn't hear any fuss when the lower level GI's wen to jail for the sins of the Bush Administration in implementing Gitmo or Abu Graide(sp?). Maybe the middle manager should have the balls to say to his bosses that what they asked him to do was wrong. But no, "Scooter" is a good boy and always obeys the massa. To say that others should be imprisoned does not take away from the fact that Scooter lied and was just as culpable as his bosses.

Get a Lawyer and Say Nothing is actually the new rule. I wonder how the government will manage to actually get ANYBODY to cooperate in future investigations when whatever they say can be politicized, twisted and criminalized in the name of GOTCHA