Posted by: mutantpoodle | July 2, 2007

Bush half-pulls Trigger, Commutes Libby’s Sentence

get_out_of_jail_free_card_smallWell, so much for letting the appeals process take its course.

The ink was barely dry on the US Court of Appeals decision denying Scooter Libby’s request to remain free on bond while he appeals his convictions for Perjury and Obstruction of Justice when George W. Bush, champion of the common man privileged Washington Insider, commuted his sentence.

Libby is still on the hook for a $250,000 fine, by which I mean he’ll have to deposit all those contributions from the Scooter Libby Defense Fund before he writes his own check and says sayonara to the thought of prison.

Bush’s commutation statement was such an unwieldy attempt to split the baby that it made one wonder where the resolute man who didn’t care what others thought of him had gone. It seemed mealy-mouthed and tepid, at best.

Here’s the kicker: commutation leaves the conviction intact, so now Scooter can still take the 5th if anyone dares ask him about Darth Cheney’s obvious role in the Plame-outing episode. Perhaps, at this point, congressional immunity is in order – I mean, what does it matter now?

I haven’t gone all the way through the blogosphere, but, just for a start, here are some reactions:

Digby: “I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty enraged. What can we do about it?”

Marcy Wheeler, pka Emptywheel, who did so much groundbreaking research into the case: “This amounts to nothing less than obstruction of justice.”

P.S. Buy her book.

Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake: “There is nothing that these people will not do to protect their own, whatever the cost may be for the long term to the public confidence in the rule of law. This is a slap in the face to the members of the jury and all of the federal judges who have ruled on the substantial amount of evidence of Libby’s guilt and the weakness of his attempts to appeal.”

In her next post, she points out that Bush’s commutation statement isn’t, um, entirely truthful: “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 shold not be allowed to stand unchallenged.”

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo: “There is a conceivable argument — a very poor one but a conceivable one — for pardoning Scooter Libby, presumably on the argument that the entire prosecution was political and thus illegitimate. But what conceivable argument does the president have for micromanaging the sentence? To decide that the conviction is appropriate, that probation is appropriate, that a substantial fine is appropriate — just no prison sentence.

“This is being treated in the press as splitting the difference, an elegant compromise. But it is the least justifiable approach. The president has decided that the sentencing guidelines and the opinion of judge don’t cut it.

“The only basis for this decision is that Libby is the vice president’s friend, the vice president rules the president and this was the minimum necessary to keep the man silent. ”

Me? I think all those folks who think impeachment is “off the table” should maybe clear the dishes and set it again.

Oh, and by the way, if anyone thinks Republicans really care about the rule of law, I have found large amounts of money in Nigerian banks which, for a small fee, I can help transfer into your personal checking accounts.


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