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Neither Right Nor Legal: Bush Commutes Libby's Sentence

July 2, 2007

As expected, President Bush chose loyalty over the rule of law and commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby. While Vice President Cheney's former chief-of-staff still must face a two year probation and a $250,000 fine, the President sent a clear but cowardly message that breaking the law in the service of his agenda is the expectation in the Bush White House:

"I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."

Bush's statement today is, of course, a far cry from the sterling ethical standard he promised to uphold in the run-up to the 2000 presidential election. As you'll recall, candidate Bush presented himself as the ethical antidote to the misdeeds real and imagined of the Clinton administration. At the Republican National Convention in August 2000, Bush pompously declared:

"So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God."

That October, then-Governor Bush introduced his soon-to-be aborted "what is right" standard of White House ethics:

"In my administration, we will ask not only what is legal but what is right. Not just what the lawyers allow, but what the public deserves."

But by 2003, President Bush made it abundantly clear that his "right, not legal" approach was merely a electoral device for his 2000 campaign. As the scandal over the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame began to unfold in the summer of 2003, Bush quickly backtracked from his promise to fire anyone involved in the leak. During his October 7, 2003 cabinet meeting, President Bus brushed aside the scandal:

"I mean this town is a -- is a town full of people who like to leak information. And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers."

Now, of course, we do know the administration officials - Libby, Rove, Armitage - who revealed the identity of a CIA agent, endangering her and her network. One of them, Scooter Libby, committed perjury and obstructed justice and was convicted for it. But thanks to President Bush, he won't spend a day in jail. And thanks to deep-pocketed friends like Fred Thompson over at the Libby Legal Defense Fund, Libby won't have to cough up one thin dime for his crimes.
So much for what is legal and what is right. But then again, that's what passes for the rule of law in Bush administration.

5 comments on “Neither Right Nor Legal: Bush Commutes Libby's Sentence”

  1. I totally agree. The thing that angers me the most is the context in which major media outlets frame this disaster. They forget to mention every time that this scandal is not solely about a covert CIA operative being exposed. This situation speaks more to the sinister and insidious decision to quiet the individual or individuals who could provide proof to counter Bush and Cheney's assetion that Sadam had nucluar materials and a secret weapons of mass destruction program. Had not Valerie Plame been exposed, which served as a destraction to her work, there is a good chance we might not be in Iraq. At least there would have been more debate about going to war...The hole thing stinks and has never been done before in US history. The Bush administration are political criminals and there are enough evidence stemming from journalist alone that could launch the impeachment process of both Bush and Cheney. The fact of the matter is that they are going business that suits them and there friends and not the greaterr American public. They say we are safer than what we were pre-9/11. I don't buy it. They still have not closed the borders; they still tried to out source port contracts to an Arab state that has traces of muslim extremist and radicals; they have failed to strenghten the border patrol through fundind and adding man power; They have accelerated the number of good paying blue collar jobs going over seas; they embarrassed the US military for being grossly under prepared at the imposion of the war with respect to equipment; they never had a plan for post invasion activities...The list just goes on and on. This administration is totally corrupt as they have always been scrowed in great secretcy, deceiving the public, submitting false statments, violating constitutional law, etc...We are in trouble if we do not get in control fast. Our government is succumming to coperate and special interest like never before without restraint and it has cost Americans dearly. I want my country back!

  2. There is also something else to consider. Throughout this whole debacle, the MSM has questioned or implied that this (the leaking of Plame's identity) was only political and that it was not all that serious.
    This dispite the fact that the CIA was the one who called for the investigation in the first place! When the CIA refers information to the Justice Department to open an investigation, you better believe that this goes beyond just "being political".

  3. I strongly feel, and have for the last 3 years Pres. Bush has been our President, (I hate to admit that he is) should be impeached immediately!!!!
    He has ruined our good name to all the world and has embarrassed our United States of America!!!
    I strongly feel he should be impeached!!!!!
    Frances A. DiMaggio Newgard


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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