Monday, July 9, 2007

1 Scooter, Slightly Used - Free

Don't know how frequently I'll voice an opinion on current political events, but I couldn't resist this one. I know I'm going against conventional wisdom, but I think Bush made the correct decision when commuting Libby's sentence. Of course Libby wasn't the victim of a partisan vendetta, but his conviction was political none the less. Perjury charges are almost always a way for a prosecutor to take another bite at the apple when the original charges fail to stick.

I think the outing of an undercover CIA agent is an offense worthy of treason charges. But, once all the dust settled it was pretty clear that Plame's identity was an open secret that was leaked by at least two sources with two different agendas. It's a shame that no charges were ever filed for the actual leak; I just don't see how justice was served by settling for going after Libby.

Libby was by no means the only one obstructing the effort to discover what happened; and certainly wasn't the one calling the shots. He was simply low enough on the food chain to serve as a sacrificial goat. The general Executive branch disregard for cooperation with the other branches is deplorable (and probably grounds for impeachment) but sending Libby to jail wouldn't change that.

It's worth mentioning that Clinton also lied under oath. This doesn't excuse perjury anymore than claiming O.J. did it too excuses killing one's ex-wife. It does, however, make for a good way of detecting bias. Let's get real, at least 99% of those claiming Libby deserved mercy would have been yelling that the sentence was too light if it were a Democrat that had been convicted. Fred Thompson was pretty much the only major player defending Libby who could honestly say he would have argued the same.

On the other side of the fence I've seen mainly two reaction. First, frustration that they wouldn't get to see someone from the Bush administration go to jail. Libby was supposed to symbolically do time for the whole administration. Second, outrage that Bush was giving special treatment to a friend. This is essentially the two wrongs make a right theory. You can't use this to oppose Libby's commutation without conceding that Bush was right in his earlier refusals of clemency.

Bush's record as governor of Texas is disgusting. Gubernatorial review of death sentences is in place for a reason; abrogating that responsibility by claiming to trust the courts is a cold-hearted callous thing to do. Further, the Bush-era Justice Department's position is that criminals should be denied the right to consideration during sentencing exactly those considerations Bush used in commuting Libby's sentence. As long as Bush could claim he was standing on his principles he could justify his actions. Ironically, by doing what I believe to be the right thing, President Bush exposed himself as a miserable mean-spirited human being. Oh well, so much for Christian compassion.

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