Monday, July 02, 2007

 

He'll always be inmate number 28301-016 to me

President Bush has just commuted Scooter Libby's prison sentence. Apparently Mr. Bush feels that 30 months in prison is too harsh a punishment for lying to investigators, perjury, and obstruction of justice.

Is Mr. Bush going to introduce a bill reducing the sentences for these crimes? After all, if 30 months is too harsh for Scooter Libby, surely it's too harsh for anyone else who lies to investigators, commits perjury, and obstructs justice. Right?

Or perhaps prison is only for people the President doesn't know personally.

The real message here is that Scooter Libby was just doing his job, and that job was to obstruct justice.

UPDATE: Much has been made of the fact that the President has absolute authority to grant reprieves and pardons. But consider this. Under the First Amendment, all of us have absolute freedom of speech -- but there are any number of crimes in which the criminal action can consist entirely of speech. Perjury is one example that springs to mind.

Now that Libby's sentence has been commuted, he has much less incentive to alleviate the effects of his crime by coming forward and telling the truth. By commuting Libby's sentence, has Bush now obstructed justice? If Bush's action were, hypothetically, part of a conspiracy, could he hide behind the fact that he was using a power granted by Article II of the Constitution?

Just a thought.

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