Monday, July 02, 2007

Scooter Libby and the Untouchable Administration

By Diane Silver

What else can you call an administration headed by a president who thinks accountability and the laws of this nation are a joke?

George W. Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence in the Valerie Plame case is yet more proof that Bush does not believe that laws apply to him and his people. As the New York Times notes in an editorial.
Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.

Bush was elected screaming against the immorality of Bill Clinton, yet Bush doesn't hesitate a bit to step outside of his own Justice Department's procedure to keep someone out of jail. And please, don't scream about the fact that Bush didn't completely pardon Libby. Jail was the penalty that really hurt in this case.

It is, in fact, the split nature of Bush's decision that makes this a complete farce. If the judicial system failed so decisively in this case, then Libby should have been pardoned completely. If the system did not fail, then there is no rationale for a president to step in and override only part of a judge's sentence.

There appear to be two systems of justice in this nation. One for the president's friends and one for the rest of us. Heaven help those of us who fall down on the wrong side of that partition.

SurveyUSA's instant poll shows that I'm not the only person appalled by this. Sixty percent of those surveyed who were familiar with the case said the president should have left the prison sentence in place.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald says(with my emphasis):

We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as “excessive.” The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.
We are all equals, except well, we aren't -- not with Bush in power.

PHOTO: Who is that smiling man? Scooter himself.


Stein said...

Thanks for the link to the survey. I especially found it interesting that 40% of Republicans thought the sentence should have been left alone.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

I can't help but think Libby cut a deal with Bush: Keep me out of jail and I won't talk. Remember at the trial, when the defense promised they would show various things, and then didn't do it? They were even going to call Cheney, and then didn't do that either. A deal is the most reasonable explanation for the defense jettisoning key elements of their case.

Diane Silver said...

Thanks for your comment, Stein. I also found it interesting that the survey showed fairly consistent anger at Bush's action across all age groups.

Nancy, I agree with you that this seems decidedly odd. Bush's action and the actions of the defense team you note certainly raise serious questions, and that's the polite way to put it.