Wednesday, July 4, 2007

More Bush Hypocrisy


via TN Guerilla Women:

Bush screwed up the commuting of Libby's sentence. The judge needs clarification from the White House about Libby's probation, since it's supposed to be served after prison time. Lawyers working around the clock this holiday weekend to give him their recommendations. Way to go, Bushie.
President Bush may think 30 months is an “excessive” jail sentence for an obstruction of justice charge, but it falls far below the standard set by Bush’s own Justice Department:
WASHINGTON — In commuting the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, President Bush said that the former vice presidential aide had suffered enough and that the 30-month prison term ordered up by a federal judge was "excessive."

But records show that the Justice Department under the Bush administration frequently has sought sentences that are as long, or longer, in cases similar to Libby's. Three-fourths of the 198 defendants sentenced in federal court last year for obstruction of justice — one of four crimes Libby was found guilty of in March — got some prison time. According to federal data, the average sentence defendants received for that charge alone was 70 months.

Just last week, the Supreme Court upheld a 33-month prison sentence for a decorated Army veteran who was convicted of lying to a federal agent about buying a machine gun. The veteran had a record of public service — fighting in Vietnam and the Gulf War — and no criminal record. But Justice Department lawyers argued his prison term should stand because it fit within the federal sentencing guidelines.

I wonder how many of these 198 defendants were convicted of obstructing justice in a case involving national security during a time of war? Oh, I forgot, the War on Terra is to be trotted out by the Republican Party for photo ops, election years, and executive power grabs. Silly me.

Anyway, it’s all moot. None of these defendants had the advantage of being friends with President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and that’s what is so galling. Our system of justice is supposed to be meted out equally and impartially, whether you are a friend to the powerful or a schlub on the street. How sad that President Bush and the Kool-Aid drinking sycophants defending this move have missed that basic point.

Recent efforts by Tony Snow, Bill Kristol and the like to pass this off as “routine” are clear attempts to get the national conversation to move on to something else. They are wrong:

Sentencing experts said Bush's action appeared to be without recent precedent. They could not recall another case in which someone sentenced to prison had received a presidential commutation without having served any part of that sentence. Presidents have customarily commuted sentences only when someone has served substantial time.

"We can't find any cases, certainly in the last half century, where the president commuted a sentence before it had even started to be served," said Margaret Colgate Love, a former pardon attorney at the Justice Department. "This is really, really unusual."

Said Ellen S. Podgor, a professor at Stetson University law school: "This is a classic case of executive activism as opposed to judicial activism."

On that note, Happy July Fourth.