Above The LawPosted: July 2, 2007
Seriously though, is anyone surprised?
US President George W Bush has intervened to prevent Lewis Libby, a convicted former vice-presidential aide, from serving a prison term.
President Bush described as “excessive” the 30-month prison sentence Libby was facing for having obstructed an inquiry into the leaking of a CIA agent’s name.
Excessive? If anything the sentence was moderate. But that’s beside the point.
Mr Libby, who was Mr Cheney’s chief of staff, was found guilty of obstructing a federal investigation into the outing of the covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame. The suspicion at the time, though never confirmed, was that the Bush administration exposed her to take revenge on her husband, Joe Wilson, a former ambassador. Mr Wilson had publicly dismissed as rubbish the president’s claim that Iraq had been seeking uranium from Niger to build a nuclear weapon.
Libby “was found guilty of obstructing a federal investigation” and was sentenced accordingly. By obstructing justice, Bush has demonstrated his contempt for the rule of law.
He was under pressure from the US his vice-president, Dick Cheney, and from many other conservatives to commute the two-and-a-half year jail sentence imposed last month. When Mr Libby was sentenced, television and radio talk shows were inundated with calls of support for the former White House aide from Republicans.
Why did he do it? Was it out of loyalty for one of his own?
The decision yesterday caused widespread anger among Democrats and even dismayed some Republicans. But in keeping Libby out of jail the President may have saved himself from revelations by an embittered former aide. He was also bowing to political pressure from conservative bloggers, talk-radio hosts, and senior Republicans.
Or was it to secure the silence of a convicted criminal?
Charles Schumer, a Democratic senator, echoed this: “As Independence Day nears, we’re reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle.”
America be proud.