Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush Commutes Libby Sentence

Three judges unanimously decided that Scooter Libby was not going to be able to remain outside of jail while he appealed his perjury/obstruction conviction in the CIA leak case.

A few hours later, Bush commuted the 30 month prison sentence - that didn't take long, did it?

Libby will still have to pay a $250,000 fine (although wingers have raised millions for the Libby Defense Fund, so Scooter will probably never actually lose a dime) and remain on probation. The felony conviction remains in place. The preznut, in a statement, said that the prison sentence was "too harsh."

MSNBC's David Shuster said that while Bush may think the sentence was "too harsh," Judge Reggie Walton (a Bush appointee) thought it was appropriate, Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald (also a Bush appointee) thought it was appropriate, and three judges on the appeals court (one Reagan appointee, one George H.W. Bush appointee, one Clinton appointee) all thought it was appropriate, given the enormity of the crime. And yet, Bush, who said in the statement that he thinks the crime Libby was convicted of is serious, nonetheless doesn't think Libby should serve ANY time.

Of course this smacks of cover-up. I suspect most Americans will see it that way. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin just said that Libby got a very special deal that ordinary criminals would never get. Bill Schneider, CNN's political analyst, just noted that 72% of Americans in the latest CNN poll said they do not believe that Libby should be pardoned by the president, while 19% said that he should.


Schneider also noted that this act will "enrage" Democrats, many independents, and even some Republicans because not only was Libby convicted of perjury and obstruction, but the crime Fitzgerald was trying to investigate may very well have been committed by the vice preznut.

Shuster says this will create a firestorm among the general public. Cheney's bacon is saved, Libby successfully covered up whatever conspiracy the fuckers in the VP's office were involved in, and the Free Scooter Fund will pay him off in spades in both money and wingnut welfare (jobs at the American Enterprise Institute, regular column in the Wall Street Journal, etc.) for the rest of his life.


There's hope for a bit of justice here yet. I wonder how the Wilson civil suit is progressing -- wouldn't it be a crying shame if all that pretty money in the Libby defense fund, and a substantial chunk of the wingnut corporate welfare he'll certainly receive for his silence, would have to go toward supporting the Wilsons in style? I'm fairly certain that this commutation won't do anything to persuade them to drop the suit. If anything, their lawyer should be salivating even more now.
Wow. I'm shocked actually. I guess he figures he has nothing to lose anymore.
kicksiron, Wilson said tonight that the civil suit goes on. I've heard that the civil suit is probably going to be thrown out of court for various reasons (including all the classified material they would need to bring into the case.)

nyc, I'm not shocked, but I am surprised it came so close to the announcement of the appeals court judges today. I figured they'd wait another couple of weeks and dump the story on a Friday night in late July at about 9:30 PM.
He certainly acted faster on this than he did when he knew New Orleans was in trouble. Hopefully this will spur Leahy to file contempt of congress charges against Bush.
What a masterful performance. If Machiavelli was alive, he'd have to add a chapter to The Prince: How To Fuck Your Enemy, Obstruct Justice, and Trash the Rule of Law.

Let's hope it blows up in Bush's face, like the Saturday Night Massacre did with Nixon. But that was then, and this is a very different America.
I don't know, rbe, but I suspect Libby's attorney would like to MAKE it all about classified information, but there's no real legal necessity. I would think that all it would take to hang Scooter out to dry for actual damages would be a statement from her ex-boss saying she was employable before, and unemployable in her profession after, her outing. That, and his assessment of her probable salary progression over the remainder of her working lifetime, should be enough to establish the reality and extent of actual damages, all without referring to any classified information.

Actually, the only defense that Libby might be able to mount would be that he was MANDATED to do the deed as the result of his official duties. Only then could he escape civil liability, and Boy!, would I love for him to try that one.

It might be tougher to collect punitive damages, because that would require establishing malevolent motive, but judges and juries both have a bit of leeway in a civil trial to infer motive even without conclusive proof.

Could get interesting.
kicksiron, a good analysis - I hope you're right. I must admit, I'm pretty pessimistic that the trial will even get off the ground.

Lew, I used your comment for a post - it's a great, great point. Four and a half hours after three judges (2 Repubs/1 Dem) said Scooter had to go to jail pending appeal, Bush parachuted in with a commutation. Three days after New orleans started to drown, Dan Bartlett had to go to the preznut w/ a tape of the evening news broadcasts to get Bush off his bicycle to do something about the tragedy. Sheesh!

abi, w/ Bush already at Nixonian levels of popularity, I suspect that Bush has nowhere to go but up in terms of popularity. His tanking in the polls lately has had more to do w/ Repubs and conservatives leaving him over immigration. This may bring some of them back. I bet he goes up 2-4 points in future polls.
I had forgotten all about compensatory damages above -- tsk, tsk. I don't know how much Ms. Plame loved her job (although I doubt there are any active covert agents in the world that don't love their job as much as life itself), and I don't know how good an actress Ms. Plame is (although I would suspect at least Sharon Stone caliber, just from her success on the job), but if she were to get on the stand and tell about how much she loved the opportunity to serve her country even though it was difficult and dangerous (sniff, brave suppressed sob), she might have Libby's lawyer pulling out his own check book and the judge calling Libby to the bench so he could smack the sob with the gavel a couple of times.

If they don't have any good trial lawyers in DC, we have a few in Texas who've been frozen out of office by that (D) by their names who would love to set a new record in civil litigation awards.
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