Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

July 2, 2007

Breaking News: Bush Commutes Libby Prison Sentence

Libby won't see a day in jail, courtesy of Dear Leader:

President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak investigation Monday, delivering a political thunderbolt in the highly charged criminal case. Bush said the sentence was just too harsh.

Bush's move came just five hours after a federal appeals panel ruled that Libby could not delay his prison term. That meant Libby was likely to have to report soon, and it put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby's allies to pardon Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.
He commutes Libby's prison sentence hours after the latter's petition to stay out of jail pending appeal was denied. A President commuting a sentence is very rare. A President commuting a sentence while appeal is pending is unprecedented. Why the rush? Because Libby knows too much and Bush knows it.

No difference between a pardon and a commute, except Libby is still considered a convicted felon. Bush uses his powers to thumb his nose at the jury's verdict and to save his Veep's lackey from prison, even though he lied about the leaking of a covert CIA operative's identity. This is the first time Bush ever commuted a sentence in his six years in office, even though countless other people are more deserving, except of course they don't have friends, or rather they're not keeping the secrets of friends in high places.

This is no less than obstruction of justice:

Well, George did it. Made sure that Scooter wouldn't flip rather than do jail time. He commuted Libby's sentence, guaranteeing not only that Libby wouldn't talk, but retaining Libby's right to invoke the Fifth.

This amounts to nothing less than obstruction of justice.
And this coming from a President who as governor of Texas professed his disdain for that power when he presided over 152 death sentences:

I don’t believe my role [as governor] is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own, unless there are new facts or evidence of which a jury was unaware, or evidence that the trial was somehow unfair.
Recall that this President's administration just recently pushed for mandatory minimum sentences for all crimes across the board.

Can you spell blatant hypocrisy and abuse of power?

The excuse that the sentence is excessive is bogus:

Wrong. Wrong. Entirely wrong. The sentence as laid out carefully by Judge Walton was well within the sentencing guidelines — in fact, it was mid-range in the guidelines. The President may well feel that a 30 months sentence is excessive for someone who has been convicted of multiple federal felonies — but, it is entirely false to say that the sentence is excessive within the guidelines. It is an attempt at spin and should not be allowed to stand unchallenged.
Now that Libby's prison sentence was commuted, there's no need for him to talk and spill all to save his skin from serving time. Cheney and Rove breathe a sigh of relief.

Here's reaction from Majority Leader Harry Reid:

The President's decision to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence is disgraceful. Libby’s conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone. Judge Walton correctly determined that Libby deserved to be imprisoned for lying about a matter of national security. The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice President’s Chief of Staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law.
"I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." [George H.W. Bush, Speech at CIA, 4/26/99

So much for traitors. Keep that in mind the next time Bush and the Republicans tell you they're strong on national security.


posted at 4:20 PM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
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Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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