So Bush went ahead and commuted Libby’s sentence, and made a clever speech pointing out that it isn’t a pardon. Not so impressive given that
- Libby is still pursuing his appeal, so could get off scott free
- Bush says will still consider pardoning Libby
Frankly the whole thing makes me want to drive to the US and burn some cars. One gets the feeling that the rule of law down there is on some pretty shaky ground at the moment.
The whole thing was made a bit worse by the fact that Bush did not consult the DOJ on the matter, and in fact acted in a manner contrary to longstanding DOJ policy. It seems though, that this strategy is a bit on the dangerous side. In his touching speech, Bush mentioned the two years of probation which would still need to be served by Libby. Turns out that Libby was not sentenced to probation…but rather “supervised release”…something which can only occur after you’ve served some time. This inconsistency was noticed by Reggie Walton, the sentencing judge in the case, who filed yesterday asking both sides to appear in court to present arguments on how exactly they feel the law should be interpreted in light of the seemingly contradictory commutation.
In light of the president’s unorthodox behaviour and the concerns of Judge Walton, the House Judiciary Committee has decided to hold hearings to look into the matter. This was announced by Rep. Conyers, the committee’s chair along with the excellent words:
“In light of yesterday’s announcement by the President that he was commuting the prison sentence for Scooter Libby, it is imperative that Congress look into presidential authority to grant clemency, and how such power may be abused. Taken to its extreme, the use of such authority could completely circumvent the law enforcement process and prevent credible efforts to investigate wrongdoing in the executive branch.”
I love Conyers, but though he is eloquent I fear that words will be the start and the end of this thing. Why are the Democrats unable to act? It’s been half a year since they took over the congress, and the abuse goes on and on unchecked. At what point will they realize that what’s at stake here transcends their pre-2008 posturing and actually take a stand?