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Two counts of perjury, one count of obstructing justice, and one count of making false statements: so reads the list of guilty verdicts returned by a federal jury in Washington DC. Libby took a fall for Rove, Cheney and/or Bush. The jury was on firm ground to convict; at the same time they recognized its unfairness. The real criminals remained unindicted.

The timing could hardly have been worse for Mr Bush, given his preoccupation with Iraq, Iran, and a Democratic Congress. With his popularity at its nadir, the Libby affair can only reinforce the belief that the Bush Administration has set a modern standard for ineptness. And it will encourage Democratic congressmen and senators to use their subpoena powers to dig further. We suggest that they do just that, while keeping in mind the worm can turn in a flash.

This verdict also supports the wisdom of Democratic and swing voters last November in returning the Democrats to control in Congress. The Bush Administration is now distrusted by two out of three Americans. It is now the Democrat's turn to be careful.

Mr Bush can and may well pardon Libby. That event would further erode what little credibility he has left. If he does, it would also set a new standard for ineptitude and pig-headedness, even for him. But in fact such an event would be entirely consistent with his refusal to take responsibility for the mess in Iraq.

The Neocon experiment has gone awry. The results of rigid and absolute power are now plain for all to see. The Neocon experiment is over, permanently we hope.


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