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Bush Screws Up Commutation

Via pontificator, this is priceless:

Section 3583 does not appear to contemplate a situation in which a defendant may be placed under supervissd release without first completing a term of incarceration. . . .

[fn 1] If either party believes that it would be helpful to seek clarification from the White House regarding the President's position on the proper interpretation of Section 3583 . . . they are encouraged to do so

Hahahahaha! BushCo, incompetent even in corruption. Hilarious!

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Holiday Eve Scooter Libby Reaction

If President Bush thought announcing Scooter Libby's commutation just before the 4th of July would decrease media attention or criticism, he was wrong. It's a firestorm out there, and it keeps on growing.

Check out Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post, his column is filled with unanswered questions about Libby and Cheney and has scores of links to news articles, blog posts and editorial page criticism.

Arianna educates the media that this is not a left or right issue, it's a right or wrong issue, and there's plenty of conservative criticism of Bush's action.

Sentencing Law and Policy has a roundup of legal commentary.

Rep. John Conyers promises to hold hearings on the commutation. The first will be Wednesday, July 11, at 10:15 am in room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Jane and Marcy will be there live-blogging for Firedoglake. They need donations. Please, give what you can.


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The movie "The Ref" proves true

Anybody remember this priceless line from "The Ref" (1994)?

Connie Chasseur: Who would catch a criminal, and then let him go free?

Mary Chasseur: Republicans.

I had a conversation with a prosecutor today about a two level enhancement for obstruction on a client in custody. I told her that the Executive Branch doesn't count obstruction as a jailable offense, so he should not get the two level enhancement.

She was not amused.  

None of us are.

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Dershowitz Writes. Hilarity Ensues

This piece by Alan Dershowitz made me laugh out loud:

The appellate judges had to see that Libby's arguments on appeal were sound and strong -- that under existing law he was entitled to bail pending appeal. (That is why I joined several other law professors in filing an amicus brief on this limited issue.)

Hahahahahahahahahaha. But of course brave Sir Alan. YOU filed an amicus brief. How could the Appellate Court not have recognized the utter brilliance and merit of your argument? It had to be political.

Too funny. This guy is a scream.

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Squaring These Circular Statements

President Bush said yesterday:

My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation.The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.

(Emphasis supplied.) Tony Snow said today:

"The reason I'm not going to say I'm not going to close a door on a pardon," Snow said, "Scooter Libby may petition for one." "The president thinks that he has dealt with the situation properly," he added. "There is always a possibility or there's an avenue open for anybody to petition for consideration of a pardon."

So the question is how long lasting is "long-lasting" in Bushworld? I predict approximately 18 months.

Update [2007-7-3 14:16:25 by Big Tent Democrat]: From the horse's mouth:

"As to the future, I rule nothing in and nothing out," the president said a day after commuting Libby's 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case.

Thanks squeaky.

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Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Bush

At Huffpo's request, I put together several of my strands of thought on the Libby commutation, added a few and put them in a single post, Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Bush.

Update: The Washington Post reports Bush didn't run the decision through DOJ channels.

Here's the video of Marcy Wheeler on Hardball.

The New York Times castigates Bush for Libby's commutation:

Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.

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Very Special Treatment

Orin Kerr:

I find Bush's action very troubling because of the obvious special treatment Libby received. President Bush has set a remarkable record in the last 6+ years for essentially never exercising his powers to commute sentences or pardon those in jail. His handful of pardons have been almost all symbolic gestures involving cases decades old, sometimes for people who are long dead. Come to think of it, I don't know if Bush has ever actually used his powers to get one single person out of jail even one day early. If there are such cases, they are certainly few and far between. So Libby's treatment was very special indeed.

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The DOJ Manual on Commutation

Via Talking Points Memo, with my emphasis:

DOJ manual on Commutations (emphasis added) ...

Section 1-2.113 Standards for Considering Commutation Petitions

A commutation of sentence reduces the period of incarceration; it does not imply forgiveness of the underlying offense, but simply remits a portion of the punishment. It has no effect upon the underlying conviction and does not necessarily reflect upon the fairness of the sentence originally imposed. 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.

Also, Bush didn't just reduce Libby's jail sentence, he eliminated it. His reasoning was that the judge's sentence was excessive and the Probation Department had recommended a lesser term, perhaps one of probation or home confinement.


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Patrick Fitzgerald Weighs In on Scooter Libby Commutation

This just in. Patrick Fitzgerald has issued this statement on President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence. He takes no position on the commutation, but criticizes Bush's characterization of the sentence as excessive:

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.

Although the President’s decision eliminates Mr. Libby’s sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process.”


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Scooter Libby Commutation, Part Two

I'm coming late to the news that President Bush has commuted Scooter Libby's prison sentence.

With the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision," Bush said in a statement issued by the White House early this evening. Although the president said he "respected" the jury's verdict, he added that he had "concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive."

Bush left Libby's $250,000 fine in place. Big Tent Democrat weighed in here.

The text of Bush's Clemency Order is here.

My immediate thought is that Dick Cheney has some clout left after all. My second is that Libby may not get a pardon when all is said and done. From President Bush's statement:


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Appeals Court Denies Bond for Scooter Libby

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Scooter Libby's request for an appeal bond.

President Bush has repeatedly said he will not pardon Scooter Libby while his case is in the Appeals court.

Does Libby have any options besides reporting to prison on schedule? If he was certain a pardon would be granted, he could drop his appeal of his conviction. Then Bush could say the matter has concluded in the courts and the time is right for him to grant a pardon.

Bush could commute his sentence to probation, reserving the pardon issue until the Appeals Court has ruled on the conviction.

Other than those, I can't think of any. It sounds like Libby will be proceeding to prison as scheduled.

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Rich v. Cohen

Sunday, Frank Rich wrote:

What makes these [Libby testimonials]rise above inanity is the portrait they provide of a wartime capital cut adrift from moral bearings. . . . The Libby supporters never acknowledge the undisputed fact that their hero, a lawyer by profession, leaked classified information about a covert C.I.A. officer. And that he did so not accidentally but to try to silence an administration critic who called attention to the White House's prewar lies about W.M.D. intelligence. And that he compounded the original lies by lying repeatedly to investigators pursuing an inquiry that without his interference might have nailed others now known to have also leaked Valerie Wilson's identity (Richard Armitage, Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer). . . . Given that Mr. Libby expressed no contrition in court after being convicted, you'd think some of his defenders might step into that moral vacuum to speak for him. But there's been so much lying surrounding this war from the start that everyone is inured to it by now. In Washington, lying no longer registers as an offense against the rule of law.

Right on cue comes Richard Cohen:

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