*Title edited for accuracy*
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to VP Dick Cheney, won't be serving his jail term. The sentence was commuted by President Bush yesterday. Given that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew who the "leaker" was, Richard Armitage (State Department), that the conviction comes down to a difference of memory regarding conversations with reporters that they themselves can't remember accurately, and that Ms. Plame wasn't even covered under the applicable law, it seems like a reasonable thing to do. The conviction for lying still stands at this time.
"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a written statement. "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 30 months in prison."
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald disputed the president's assertion that the prison term was excessive. Libby was sentenced under the same laws as other criminals, Fitzgerald said. "It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals."
Democrats, of course, are outraged.
"Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war," said. "Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's decision showed the president "condones criminal conduct."
The president left intact a $250,000 fine and two years probation for his conviction of lying and obstructing justice in a probe into the leak of aoperative's identity. The former operative, , contends the White House was trying to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of Bush's Iraq policy.
Congress ought to investigate "whether or not the president himself is a participant in the obstruction of justice," Wilson told The Santa Fe New Mexican. Wilson, Plame and their children moved toearlier this year.
"The president has utterly subverted the rule of law and the system of justice that has undergirded this country of ours for the past 220 years," Wilson said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.
None of the statements by Sen. Reid, Speaker Pelosi or Joe Wilson are true. Mr. Reid is wrong in that Libby's conviction was not for leaking to silence critics or for manipulating intelligence. Ms. Pelosi is wrong in that the conviction and non-prison penalties remain in place. And Mr. Wilson is wrong in that no one has overturned the rule of law, as if no sentence had ever been commuted in history before yesterday, and that since a special prosecutor has already fully investigated the "obstruction of justice" Congress would be wasting it's time going there.
Oh, I forgot. That is currently what Congress does best.