Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Why Bush Is Full Of Shit and Why The Dems Must Go To The Mattresses

The preznut said Libby's 30-month prison sentence for obstruction and perjury was overly "harsh" and "excessive." Funny how he never thinks that way in obstruction and/or perjury cases not pertaining to a former aide to Vice Preznut Cheney who just might sing to the special prosecutor if faced with actual prison time:

Records show that the Justice Department under the Bush administration frequently has sought sentences that are as long, or longer, in cases similar to Libby's. Three-fourths of the 198 defendants sentenced in federal court last year for obstruction of justice — one of four crimes Libby was found guilty of in March — got some prison time. According to federal data, the average sentence defendants received for that charge alone was 70 months.

Just last week, the Supreme Court upheld a 33-month prison sentence for a decorated Army veteran who was convicted of lying to a federal agent about buying a machine gun. The veteran had a record of public service — fighting in Vietnam and the Gulf War — and no criminal record. But Justice Department lawyers argued his prison term should stand because it fit within the federal sentencing guidelines.


Sentencing experts said Bush's action appeared to be without recent precedent. They could not recall another case in which someone sentenced to prison had received a presidential commutation without having served any part of that sentence. Presidents have customarily commuted sentences only when someone has served substantial time.

"We can't find any cases, certainly in the last half century, where the president commuted a sentence before it had even started to be served," said Margaret Colgate Love, a former pardon attorney at the Justice Department. "This is really, really unusual."

It's not all that unusual for this administration - it's part of the classic cover-up they've been engaging in since the beginning in this case. They had Scooter take the fall for the VP, who, as Dan Froomkin noted yesterday, Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald believed was the linchpin behind the conspiracy to leak a covert CIA agent's name to the press in order to discredit a political opponent, and then commuted Libby's jail time to keep him quiet:

During the course of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's trial for obstruction of justice and perjury, we learned a lot about his bosses.

Incremental discoveries that didn't garner major headlines nevertheless added to what we know -- and can reasonably surmise -- about Vice President Cheney and President Bush's role in the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, which was revealed during the course of the administration's defense of its decision to go to war in Iraq.

We know, for instance, that Cheney was the first person to tell Libby about Plame's identity. We know that Cheney told Libby to leak Plame's identity to the New York Times in an attempt to discredit her husband, who had accused the administration of manipulating prewar intelligence. We know that Cheney wrote talking points that may have encouraged Libby and others to mention Plame to reporters. We know that Cheney once talked to Bush about Libby's assignment, and got permission from the president for Libby to leak hitherto classified information to the Times.

We don't know why Libby decided to lie to federal investigators about his role in the leak. But it's reasonable to conclude -- or at least strongly suspect -- that he was doing it to protect Cheney, and maybe even Bush.

Why, after all, was special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald so determined to get the truth from Libby and, barring that, to punish him for obstructing justice? Prosecutorial ethics preclude Fitzgerald, a Bush appointee, from answering such questions. But the most likely scenario is that he suspected that it was Cheney who committed the underlying crime -- that Cheney instructed Libby to out a CIA agent in his no-holds-barred crusade against a critic. (See my Feb. 21 column, The Cloud Over Cheney and my May 29 column, Fitzgerald Again Points to Cheney.)

All of this means that Bush's decision yesterday to commute Libby's prison sentence isn't just a matter of unequal justice. It is also a potentially self-serving and corrupt act.

Was there a quid pro quo at work? Was Libby being repaid for falling on his sword and protecting his bosses from further scrutiny? Alternately, was he being repaid for his defense team's abrupt decision in mid-trial not to drag Cheney into court, where he would have faced cross-examination by Fitzgerald? (See my March 8 column, Did Libby Make a Deal?)

It is pretty clear that there is some quid pro quo here as part of a cover-up.

Otherwise, why would the preznut, notoriously stingy with pardons and commutations, commute the sentence of Libby just hours after three Appeals Court judges (2 Repubs/1 Dem) said that Libby had to go to jail pending the appeal of his obstruction/perjury conviction?

Otherwise, why would the preznut ignore the guidance and precedents of his own Justice Department in cases like this when in ever other case he defers to that guidance and those precedents?

Again, it is pretty clear that there is some quid pro quo here as part of a cover-up.

Can anybody remember any other president commuting or pardoning the sentence of a former aide in order to keep that aide from singing to a prosecutor about what he knows the president and/or the vice president may have done as part of a criminal conspiracy?

It's as if Nixon had pardoned Bob Haldeman, John Erhlichman, John Mitchell, Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, Jeb Stuart Magruder, Fred LaRue, James McCord, Chuck Colson, Donald Segretti, and the Cuban burglars right after he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and accepted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckalhaus and said "Okay, let's move on..."

Congress needs to step in here and take up the investigation. They need to call Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to testify, they need to subpoena Libby to testify (though I suspect pending his appeal he will have an excuse not to...thus why Bush commuted Libby's sentence instead of issuing a pardon.) They need to get their hands on the testimony that Cheney and Bush gave to Fitz during the investigation, they need to get Karl Rove's testimony and they need to find out who did what as part of this cover-up. They need to go to the mattresses on this.

The NY Daily News reports that the House Judiciary Committee will start hearings next week into the matter. Loyal Bushies and other dishonest conservatives and corrupt Republicans will attempt to throw wrenches into the investigation, as they have with other Democratic investigations of the administration into the Prosecutor Purge scandal, the Walter Reed hospital scandal, the NSA warrantless wiretapping scandal, the torture scandals, the Cunningham/Foggo defense contracting scandal, the various Jack Abramoff scandals, and of course the manipulation of the pre-Iraq war intelligence. They will say that an arrogant do-nothing Congress which can't pass any meaningful legislation (never mind that almost all of the legislation the Democratic House has passed has died in the Senate as a result of the obstructionist Republican minority) wants to spend all its time in meaningless and highly politicized investigations and hearings.

Democrats must not let the loyal Bushies and dishonest Repubs get away with dispersing that meme. This is the most arrogant, secretive, corrupt, criminal administration since the Nixon administration. By commuting the sentence of Scooter Libby, Preznut Bush has become an accessory to Libby's obstruction of justice. For that blatant disregard of the rule of law, Bush must answer. The majority of the American people, ever disgusted by rich, powerfully connected people getting treated specially by the system, will certainly be open to these investigations.

So start the investigations and let's spend the next year and a half exposing all of the criminal behavior, the lies, the deceptions, the unconstitutional acts.

Oh, and let's change the pardon and commutation process so that future presidents do not have the luxury of having an aide who has engaged in criminal activity under the orders of a criminal vice president take the fall knowing that a commutation and/or full pardon is coming in the near future.

UPDATE: Here's conservative blogger Cunning Realist on what the Libby commutation means for the rest of Bush's presidency:

So what did Cheney threaten to do if Bush took no action on Libby? And the commutation bought Scooter's eternal silence about what, exactly? Lots of interesting questions that will probably remain unanswered. We do know that because of Libby's crimes, we'll never get the whole truth about one of the most duplicitous episodes in U.S. history: the false pretense for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.


If the Libby commutation is any indication of Bush's own sense of accountability at this point and Cheney's remaining influence, can there be much doubt about what comes next vis-à-vis Iran?

Indeed. They not only think they're above the law, they know it.

I think we can conclude that if Cheney wants an Iran bombing sometime next year, he will get it.

Great headline, RBE.
I thought about Iran too when this commutation happened. Clearly the Cheney/Bush gang believes it can do anything it wants, and they're absolutely right. No one's going to stop them. The Dems are too busy thinking about 2008.

As for going to the mattress, the admin has already done that, and has fucked us all there.
This is the most arrogant, secretive, corrupt, criminal administration since the Nixon administration
Actually, these guys Nixon seem normal. It's too bad today's Democrats won't take a page for the Democrats of yore and do something about the rampant crime in the White House.
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