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SPECIAL EDITION: President Bush Commutes Libby’s Sentence.

For months since Cheney’s former Chief of Staff was found guilty in a court of law for “Perjury and obstruction of justice” by lying to a Grand Jury, Republicans have been screaming for President Bush to pardon “Scooter” Libby, calling Independent Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald a “rogue prosecutor” decrying that there was “No underlying crime!”

As predicted, rather than grant Libby a “full pardon” and nullify the jury’s verdict, President Bush instead chose Door #3 and commuted Libby’s sentence down from “30 months in prison” to a “probationary (jail) term”. While no one appears to be entirely clear what a “probationary (jail) term” is versus just “probation”, it helps to understand the difference between “jail” and “prison”… “prison is long-term and after conviction”, while “jail is short term and typically prior to trial/sentencing”. So obviously, Libby will serve probably no more than 2-3 months in jail. The $250,000 fine stays pat, and since the conviction stays on his record, Libby will be disbarred and his law license revoked.

UPDATE: At this time, it appears Libby will be serving NO time in jail, though the fine and disbarment will remain.

While you can argue that “the punishment does not fit the crime”, it is still no “slap on the wrist”. Libby is still getting a harsh sentence for obeying his bosses’ illegal order, but that’s not the issue here.

The point worth noting is all the Right-wingers who were screaming for Bush to PARDON Scooter Libby. Their argument goes this way:

o Libby was not the first person to leak Valerie Plame’s identity to the press. It was Richard Armitage.

o Fitzgerald already knew this when he called Libby to testify.

o Fitzgerald unnecessarily forced Libby to testify under oath over something he already knew the answer to. Had he of never been forced to testify, said crime would never of occurred. (“If you hadn’t called me, I never would of been here to lie to you! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!” Also known as the “It’s MOM’S fault for leaving the chocolate cake on the counter” defense.)

“Rogue prosecutor”? “No underlying crime”? Sound familiar? It should. That is EXACTLY the circumstances under which THEY IMPEACHED A SITTING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, BILL CLINTON in 1999.

Now, of course, their defense of Libby is total nonsense. Yes, Fitzgerald knew former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the first to leak the name of Ms. Plame to reporters, a fact he freely admitted (which is why HE wasn’t prosecuted for perjury or obstruction of justice). But Fitz was trying to find out WHO TOLD ARMITAGE. Notice that Armitage was not prosecuted for leaking Ms. Plame’s identity either. That is because the leaker “must be aware that the name of the person they are leaking is classified”, and clearly he did not. This is not the kind of information neither the former DSoS nor Libby would of had as part of their duties. The CIA is not in the habit of providing anyone outside of Langley the true identities of their secret agents. So Armitage would of had to of been *given* the identity of Ms. Plame by someone that could obtain it AND, in the course of obtaining it, would HAVE to know it was classified, and either (illegally) declassified it or likely never told Armitage that the information he was being given was secret… not if their intention was to leak it to the press.

When Armitage was confronted with his role in the leak, he admitted everything, telling prosecutors that Libby told him about Valerie Plame. So then, Fitzgerald called Libby in to testify and Libby then LIED TO THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR. Fitzgerald called Libby back multiple times, possibly to give him ample opportunity to come clean and admit the truth, but HE CONTINUED TO LIE AND DELIBERATELY ATTEMPT TO MISDIRECT THE INVESTIGATION. Had Libby of just admitted “who provided him with the classified information and WHY”, he would never of been prosecuted. But Libby CONTINUED to FLAGRANTLY try and OBSTRUCT AND MISDIRECT the DoJ’s investigation, which is why he was charged & convicted. Had he of not obstructed justice, the DoJ would probably be investigating the VP’s office (and Cheney) himself right now (which would make that the first of several investigations, including the current one over Cheney’s refusal to submit his document activities to the National Archives for Security Clearance.)

But back to the hypocrisy: President Clinton did not commit a crime by having an affair with an intern. If it was a crime to “lie to the American people” about it, then President Bush is up to his neck in it. Special Prosecutor Ken Starr was brought in early in Clinton’s first term by the Republican controlled Congress to investigate “Whitewater”, a failed Arkansas land deal in which then Governor Clinton *lost* $20,000, but for which Republicans accused him of receiving illegal “preferential treatment” in just getting the deal. When you think now of all the Republican scandals, crimes and misdeeds, from the day they stole the 2000 election, illegally wiretapping Americans without a warrant and then lying to us about it, Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, and so on, and so on, the “crime” of “maybe possibly receiving preferential treatment in a failed land deal before he even became President” seems pretty pathetic.

But Starr’s investigation didn’t stop there. When “Whitewater” turned up nothing, the investigation morphed like a Transformer: Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, “Trooper-Gate”, “File-Gate”, and eventually “Monica”. Can anyone say “rogue prosecutor”? I knew you could!

After being vilified by the GOP and in the press for claiming “Executive Privilege” to avoid testifying under oath regarding his affair with Ms. Lewinski… something that was NOT a crime and NOT deserving of a criminal proceeding… President Clinton relented and agreed to testify under oath… something our current President and Vice President continue to refuse to do…, in which he was put into the position where he would be forced either to admit to his wife and daughter that he had had an affair, or continue to deny it. Can anyone say “No underlying crime”? I knew you could!

The witch-hunt to “get” President Clinton was rationalized by Conservatives on the basis of “Rule of Law”, “a crime is a crime” and that his misbehavior was “a threat to national security” should someone “attempt to blackmail him to prevent the truth from getting out”. Huh, “rule of law”? “A crime is a crime”? “Threat to national security”? Can anyone say “perjury and obstruction of justice” followed by “leaking the name of an undercover CIA Agent”? I knew you could!

So for Republicans, the conviction of Scooter Libby is “a travesty of justice”, “railroaded by a rogue prosecutor”, with “no underlying crime”. But when it comes to Bill Clinton, well… “he was responsible for 9/11 you know!” (then again, maybe not.)

Hypocrisy so thick, you could drive a Humvee over it without it sinking.

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