After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby.
Bush goes on to mention specifically the only remaining elements of legal punishment, probation and a fine of $250,000.
Now it looks as though even these two residual sanctions on Libby may turn out to be nonexistent.
On July 3 (yesterday), Judge Reggie B. Walton, the trial judge, issued a new order in the Libby case. Noting that probation appears to be defined by law as "supervised release after imprisonment" and that the president had commuted all of Libby's imprisonment, the judge said that the law,
does not appear to contemplate a situation in which a defendant may be placed under supervised release without first completing a term of incarceration.
It was fitting that George W. Bush commuted Scooter Libby's prison sentence while visiting with Daddy Bush since it was 41 who likely taught him about such dirty tricks. In fact, Bush the Elder took a similar route by pardoning Caspar Weinberger who was indicted for lying to the special prosecutor investigating the Iran/Contra affair. As Marcy Wheeler stated on Democracy Now (seen in the video), Senior Bush's pardon similarly prevented investigators from discovering his role in the Iran/Contra scandal. For kicks, you'll also see Fox "News" pundit, Fred Barnes, mentioning the older Bush's pardon of Weinberger in defense of 43's actions, which might be the reason he is fuzzy with the details.
MSNBC's Dan Abrams looks up the definition of "Excessive" in the dictionary, reviews Justice Department guidelines for commuting prison sentences and evidences how Bush ignored all proper procedure in the Libby case, before concluding: "I fear this is another example of the disdain for the courts and for rules that attempt to ensure equal justice for all."
Saying “Even Richard Nixon knew it was time to resign” and adding that Nixon’s resignation, belated though it was, ranked as one final action of nonpartisanship, Olbermann urged George W. Bush to emulate Nixon, “not for self, not for party,” but for the country.
Olbermann also prefaced his speech, in one of several promotional moments, with the comment that “No one is holding their breath on this, but frankly, were Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush true patriots, they would resign.”
Looking back at the original CNN report from February 11, 2004, announcing that a Special Prosecutor had been assigned to the CIA Leak matter, it's clear that what Bush had said at the time is exactly what he meant...
WASHINGTON (CNN) --- President Bush said Tuesday he welcomes a Justice Department investigation into who revealed the classified identity of a CIA operative.
"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. "If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."
Scooter has now been well "taken care of", so once again, George W. Bush has proven to be a man of his word.
Though his interest in "want[ing] to know who" may have leaked the classified identify of a covert CIA operative overseeing worldwide WMD networks may have been somewhat overstated. As we recently learned during sworn Congressional testimony, White House Security Chief, Joe Knodell admitted that they never bothered to launch an investigation into the matter.
"Leaks of classified information are bad things," the Commutator-in-Chief said, apparently just kidding, back in early 2004.
Section 1-2.113 Standards for Considering Commutation Petitions
Requests for commutation generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence. Nor are commutation requests generally accepted from persons who are presently challenging their convictions or sentences through appeal or other court proceeding.
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.
Meanwhile, former Sen. Fred Thompson couldn't be happier:
I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the President’s decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.
...And Guilliani joins him in standing firmly against National Security for America, and in favor of outing covert CIA assets:
After evaluating the facts, the President came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct.
George W. Bush's father, however, feels differently. Or, at least he did back in 1999 when addressing his former colleagues at the CIA...
Filling in for Bill O'Reilly on tonight's Factor, Michelle Malkin ripped Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff for destroying the faith of the American people in our government's ability to enforce immigration laws. Later, she went after an immigrant advocate attorney who called for an end to the deportation of illegals, stating, "it is not a bumper sticker to say that we should enforce the laws that are on the books." Between the two, Malkin finds time to joke with "Democratic" Strategists, Kirsten Powers and Laura Schwartz, about Bush letting Scooter Libby "Off The Hook." Surprisingly, she appeared much less concerned with the law and order aspects of the Libby case.
UPDATE FROM BRAD 7/3/07: I believe it's worth underscoring Alan's point above. The two Fox 'News' analysts interviewed by Malkin, claiming that commuting Libby's sentence was "the right thing to do" are both identified as "Democratic" strategists. Incredible. Only on Fox...
The total commutation of Libby’s sentence should put an end to any questions, if any remain, about whether the Bush-Cheney cabal is completely crooked.
Briefly: the published statement for public consumption that the president found Libby’s sentence “excessive” is transparently false. If he had merely found the sentence excessive, he could have commuted it PARTLY. Two and a half years could have been reduced to two, or to one and a half, or to one year. It could have been drastically commuted to six months, or to three months.
That did not happen. Instead, George Walker Bush elevated smarmy propagandists like Byron York over federal judges. He elevated Charles Krauthammer over three U.S. Circuit Court Judges appointed by three former presidents. (Not that Krauthammer’s first reaction after Libby was indicted was to defend Libby. Au contraire: Krauthammer took the line, on ABC’s Inside Washington, that Libby’s actions were the work of one man, namely Libby. Neocon loyalty at work – until the echo chamber pulled Krauthammer back in line.) Bush elevated rightwing talk show hosts, the creepy National Review, Fox television and Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the now-moribund PNAC over the U.S. justice system.
Bloomberg reports that, "George W. Bush commuted Lewis 'Scooter' Libby's 2 1/2-year prison sentence in the CIA leak case, sparing him from punishment the president called 'excessive.'" It seems W. changed his mind in the last four months about respecting jury verdicts involving serious matters as seen in the video above. Or, maybe the White House had given up all hope of restoring "honor and dignity," and thus felt it had nothing to lose.
UPDATE: Because of a technical glitch we are in the process of correcting, the videos in this post cannot be viewed in Firefox. In the meantime, suitable alternatives include Internet Explorer, Safari, Ominweb and Opera.
UPDATE: Problem fixed. Video should now work fine in Firefox et al.
Roger Simon takes Mitt Romney to task on Meet The Press this morning for waffling on the issue of pardons. Romney, who never issued a pardon while serving as Governor of Massachusetts out of respect for jury verdicts, now thinks that Scooter Libby is deserving of a pardon from the current White House occupant. As Simon wrote in his syndicated column this week:
"And Romney's true standard seems to be: No pardons for nobodies. Somebodies can catch a break."
Those separate email accounts – email accounts held by people working in the White House and the Office of the Vice President, often with security clearances, but not “.gov” accounts – now threaten to become bigger news. Those alternate accounts, as we know now from work done by the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the new report from the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, both potentially and actually allowed WH and DOJ and OVP personnel to communicate ‘off the books’ up to a point. While theoretically still bound by the rules for preserving presidential records (see below) the 88 government officials with email accounts provided by the Republican National Committee could move with electronic fluidity from their official to their partisan political duties, and back again, with remarkably little scrutiny for the entire four years of Bush’s first term.
So any correspondence about --- for example --- Chandra Levy and Gary Condit, 9/11 and Iraq, anthrax mailings and Judith Miller, will remain lost from public view until the advanced technology of un-deleting can sweep it up from the bottom of whatever files it has been submerged in to date.
Tabling for now such topics as political motivation in the firing and hiring of US Attorneys, the immediate question is, exactly how EARLY did administration personnel start using these alternate email accounts?...
From Prettyman Courthouse, DC, for the bail hearing today of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, where I sat in on the hearing on motions for his pending appeal. Those motions, to keep him free on bail, were unsuccessful as the judge ruled against the defendant.
Approximately 11:30 this morning, U.S. District Court in DC, Judge Reggie B. Walton: “In the interest of full disclosure,” Walton says quietly, “and this may be a sign of the times we live in,” in the wake of his ruling which sentenced Libby to prison, “I have received a number of angry, mean-spirited phone calls and letters regarding the sentence” – “including wishing bad things on me or my family.” – “At first I threw them away, but then I got more letters, even more hateful than the others.” So now, “I’m preserving them – in the event that something does happen [some harm to the judge, presumably]” – the perps can be caught.
The times we live in, indeed. Chalk another smarmy mark up for the noise machine.
On to the bail hearing today: the judge refers to a lengthy footnote in the most recent defense motion which lists a number of convicted criminals who are out on bail – “that list of people out on bail, in white-collar crime cases” [everybody from Martha Stewart on down, out on bail while pursuing appeal] – “I hope that footnote is in there not just because of some assumption that people released pending appeal will include all white-collar defendants.” – “I can’t buy in on that,” Walton says, taking the position that white-collar defendants should be treated the same way as blue-collar defendants, and neither kind of defendant should count automatically on being released on bail pending appeal...
On November 29, 2005, the Boston Globe ran a nice Letter to the Editor by Mr. Ralph West of Philly, under the headline “REMOVE CANCER IN ADMINISTRATION”:
...It is just as important as ever that the metastasized cancer of corruption in the Bush administration be removed, if possible...If a Robert Bork does not emerge to fire Fitzgerald, we may yet get to the truth of the Valerie Plame Wilson affair...
Mr. West's concerns may now have come to fruition, The BRAD BLOG has learned, as "a Robert Bork" has emerged --- in fact, Robert Bork himself --- along with eleven other law professors from some of the nation's most highly regarded law schools, and Pepperdine, to file an amici brief in the Scooter Libby perjury and obstruction of justice case in order to argue that the Special Prosecutor's assignment to the case was unconstitutional...
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace --- who recently revealed he hadn't a clue about how many of his own U.S. troops were killed in Iraq or how many had died on 9/11 --- is being replaced by order of Sec. of Defense Robert Gates, according to news reports this morning.
Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson speculates the final straw was Pace's letter of support sent to the Judge in the Scooter Libby case:
Let there be no doubt--Perfect Peter Pace has been shown the door because of his letter to Judge Walton pleading on behalf of Scooter Libby. That letter was the final straw demonstrating his incompetence and political tin ear as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. How can you call call upon troops to conduct themselves with honor and integrity when you make lame excuses for the conduct of a convicted perjurer and obstructer of justice like Scooter Libby. Pace's Libby letter was the tipping point. His status, already shaky with the debacle of Iraq and a six year record of failure, became toxic with that letter.
Jon Soltz, an Iraq war vet and Chairman of VoteVets.org, the largest political group of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, concurs with Johnson's assessment. "General Pace grossly overstepped his bounds and poorly represented the military with his political actions and misguided statements," according to a Soltz in a statement sent to The BRAD BLOG. "The straw that broke the camel's back, for us, was his defense of a convicted felon, Scooter Libby, when it was entirely improper for him to do so, as a top leader in the military, who must remain non-partisan."
Johnson concludes: "I believe that Perfect Peter has dishonored himself and dishonored the Marine Corps by his conduct--his weak, vacillating leadership and his craven pandering to political masters....Peter has been more willing than others to sell his soul for political expediency. He leaves in September. Good riddance."