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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush Offers Scooter Libby "Amnesty"

by folkbum

UPDATE: Via mcjoan, it looks like Bush thinks the rules don't apply to him, either: "No petition for commutation of sentence, including remission of fine, should be filed if other forms of judicial or administrative relief are available, except upon a showing of exceptional circumstances." Libby's appeal is still pending, and there's nothing exceptional about it.

UPDATE II: I suppose Bush could have just said, " 'Please,' " Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, " 'don't [send me to jail].' " Scooter's lucky.

Well it seems that tax-evader Marc Rich's attorney has had his sentence commuted by President Bush:
President Bush commuted the sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on Monday, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term that Bush said was excessive. Bush's move came hours after a federal appeals panel ruled Libby could not delay his prison term in the CIA leak case.

That meant Libby was likely to have to report to prison soon and put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby's allies to pardon the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a 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 thirty months in prison."

Bush left intact a $250,000 fine and two years probation for Libby, and Bush said his action still "leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby."

Libby was convicted in March of lying to authorities and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative's identity. He was the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra affair.
What this means, in other words, is that running interference so your boss doesn't get implicated in a federal investigation is now worth, at most, a hefty fine. I hope that loyal assistants in smoke-filled boardrooms everywhere are taking notice.

The title of this post is, of course, a shot at everyone (cough * conservatives * cough) who has been criticizing the failed immigration bill by calling the fine and probation required of illegal immigrants "amnesty." It's not "amnesty" any more than what Scooter got is a full pardon. Scooter just doesn't have to do the time for his crime. Ironically, this "amnesty" will earn Bush points with his 26-percenters that the immigration bill actually didn't.

Additionally: Bloomberg (the news, not the guy) reminds us that Bush pardons or commutes almost no one who asks for it. digby suspects the lack of a full pardon is so that Scooter can take the fifth if he testifies to Congress. And, kudos to Keith for beating me to it.

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