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World Press: Libby Indictment Damages Bush

A sampling of world editorial opinion finds a general belief the Bush Administration has been damaged by the CIA leak scandal, though there is disagreement on how badly.

There is much commentary in the world media on the impact of the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former chief of staff of Vice President Richard Cheney. Mr. Libby is accused of lying to a federal grand jury about his role in leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative.

The Guardian newspaper in London points out that every second term presidency after Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s has been hit by a distracting scandal. Richard Nixon resigned over Watergate. Ronald Reagan had the Iran-Contra affair. Bill Clinton was impeached over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Now President Bush must deal with the legal and political fallout of the CIA leak case.

I n the words of the Guardian: "A man who prided himself as a good leader now sees his administration tainted by cronyism, incompetence and dishonesty. It has been the worst week of his presidency. Mr. Bush will need more than luck to recover from it."

The Times of London newspaper says Mr. Bush is not as personally vulnerable in the scandal as his predecessors were in theirs. It notes that his troubles have begun just 10 months into his second term, but that also gives him time to turn things around and it would be premature to assume that Mr. Bush's days of effectiveness are over.

In the words of the Times: Mr. Bush "to prosper, needs to recapture his authority, and quickly."

The Spanish national newspaper, El Pais, points out that Mr. Libby is accused of lying about the unmasking of a CIA officer whose husband had debunked a key justification for the invasion of Iraq, that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium in Africa.

As the newspaper puts it: "The wall of lies concerning the Iraq war has just claimed its first scalp … and it may end up ruining the people who built it."

It says not only will Mr. Libby go on trial, but so will, in the editorial's words, "a whole form of politics based on constant lies and deception."

However, El Pais goes on to add: "All of this is also an example of the greatness of the U.S. system, in which democracy and the rule of law prevail in the end."

A different perspective comes from former Bush speechwriter David Frum, in a column in Canada's National Post. He says that while Mr. Libby faces serious legal peril, the broader administration has been, "exonerated of intentional wrongdoing."

Mr. Frum says no more indictments are expected, no evidence of conspiracy has been revealed, and Mr. Libby is not accused of betraying national security secrets.

As he puts it: "That's pretty much the end of the scandal, isn't it? And that creates an opportunity for the president to put his administration back to work."