Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Scootin' Scooter

It's been covered to death by now, so I'm only going to say a little: the president will hold people accountable as long as they're not his friends. He respects juries as long as they don't disagree with him. He's tossed out the punishment assigned to Mr Libby because he thinks it's “too harsh”. Reports remind us that Mr Libby still has to pay a large fine, but we don't usually hear that donations have already been made to cover that. What's left is two years of probation and a record of a conviction. We're told that means he won't be practicing law. Ah, but there's the book deal, the mini-series, and the lecture circuit that we mustn't forget.

I actually have mixed feelings here, because no good would really come of putting Lewis Libby in prison for a year and a half. No good, that is, except to show that it's not really true that this administration puts itself above the law. And now we see King George making that, once again, abundantly clear. As to clemency and the commutation of the sentence, I have only one name to drop in that regard: Tookie Williams.

Some links from the NY Times:

  1. The news article about the sentence commutation.
  2. An analysis.
  3. An editorial.


Ray said...

I know that after all this time I really should be shock-proof, but Bush's bald-faced actions continue to amaze me. What amazes me even more, though, is the placid way in which the press and the American public seem to accept everything this person does, as though there's nothing that can be done.

It is interesting to note that Shrub actually did keep his September 2003 promise to "take care of" anyone in his administration who was found to have broken the law. I guess it was our own fault that we misinterpreted what he meant by that.

The Ridger, FCD said...

The good would have been that Scooter would have talked had Bush not promised him no jail time.

scouter573 said...

As I understand it, there are three parts to the original sentence: a fine, a prison term, and a probation term. As you note, the fine is probably covered by contributions from rich friends, none of whom will ever notice the sting. The prison term has been commuted, so no one will ever notice the sting. According to the judge in the case (regrettably, I can't cite a source here), the relevant law is worded such that the probation term can only begin after the prison term, so no one will ever notice that sting, either, because absent a prison term there can be no probation. We are left with a crime and no punishment. The deterrent aspect of the law appears to have been completely lost. (I must also agree with Ray's observation that we probably misunderstood the meaning of the promise "take care of" the perp.)

Finally, I read that the fact that President Bush commuted the term instead of pardoning the crime means that the Fifth Amendment still applies - Mr. Libby has no reason to explain his actions further and is motivated to obscure the actions of any other actors in the drama. Pretty clever, I would say. Not something to reinforce the perception of Keystone Kops - highly clever.



Barry Leiba said...

«The deterrent aspect of the law appears to have been completely lost.»

The "deterrent" aspect is still there: if you're going to leak and lie, you'd better have a friend in a position to "take care of you"; otherwise you'll be in prison for two and a half years.

«Finally, I read that the fact that President Bush commuted the term instead of pardoning the crime means that the Fifth Amendment still applies»

Actually, I misspoke[1] above, when I said "friend". I'm more convinced, the more I think about it, that The George has actually admitted complicity by commuting the sentence. Think about it: if Libby did it because George wanted him to do it, then the latter has an obligation to make it so the former doesn't, as Andy says, feel the sting. If that weren't the case, well, it's clear that "Scooter"[2] should be serving his time.

So it's pretty obvious that we should now be going after the Big Pretzel.

Oh, but I forgot: we don't have any evidence now. Yes, "sigh".

[1] "Lied".

[2] How on Earth can a grown man go by "Scooter"? Well, I suppose it eliminates the need to the Prez to come up with his own nickname for you, which might be worse.