Tuesday, July 03, 2007

President Bush Commutes Scooter Libby's Prison Sentence

President Bush commuted part of former White House aide I. Scooter Libby's prison sentence. This means that Libby will avoid serving a two and a half year prison sentence, but the conviction, $250,000 fine and probation still stand.

Defense Blogger has good coverage on it:
This all started with Joe Wilson's false allegation about pre-war intelligence and morphed into an investigation into who leaked the identity of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA employee. The special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, knew from the outset of his investigation that a) no crime had been committed because Plame was not a covert agent as defined under the act and b) that the State Department's Richard Armitage, not Libby, was the leaker. Nevertheless, Fitzgerald "investigated" Armitage's non-crime and produced no results aside from the conviction of Libby for having a different recollection of discussions he had with the media than the reporters had.

Here is the text of President Bush's grant of executive clemency. Here is the text of President Bush's full statement. The statement that "Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged" stands out. Why would he include that sentence, obviously false and which Bush cannot possibly believe, in his statement? I wouldn't expect that the President would attack Fitzgerald, but it would have been best to either not mention Fitzgerald at all or to question the investigation in more general terms.

Commuting the prison sentence but leaving the rest of the punishment intact should please about zero percent of the population. Those who understand the investigation know Libby should be pardoned. This half measure does little to satisfy them. President Bush should have pardoned Libby. The Wall Street Journal editorializes that:
Mr. Libby deserved better from the President whose policies he tried to defend when others were running for cover. The consequences for the reputation of his Administration will also be long-lasting.
If President Bush hoped that keeping the conviction and the rest of the sentence intact would appease the Angry Left, he is wrong. When will he learn that no matter how many times he supports the left, whether it's with No Child Left Behind, the illegal alien amnesty bill or the massive increase in non-defense federal government spending, the left will never like him. The New York Times, predictably, whines about Bush's move. This article has more whining from the usual suspects on the left, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Stenny Hoyer and John Kerry.

Fred Thompson advocated a pardon but is glad to at least see the prison sentence commuted. "I am very happy for Scooter Libby," Thompson said. "I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life."

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