President's decision shows governmental hypocrisy
After the U.S. Court of Appeals denied I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's plea to avoid prison time while he worked out his next appeal, it was time for President Bush to step into action and make a decision. He was stuck. The President could pardon Libby – who was convicted of perjury in the Valerie Plame CIA leak affair – to satisfy the unanswered calls from his conservative base or leave the issue alone and allow the court's sentence for the former vice presidential aide stand in an attempt to soothe the Democratic Congress.
Instead, he did neither. The President chose door number three, a commutation of Libby's punishment by eliminating his prison time. This gesture has not only left both sides unsatisfied but also made it clear that the move was fueled by Bush's personal relationship with Libby.
Bush's attempt to avoid confrontation on an issue which has separated conservative from ultra-conservative left America feeling torn shortly after its 231st birthday. As reports surface on the way Bush shunned input prior to his decision to commute the sentence, it becomes apparent that it was motivated by friendship and not some greater executive knowledge. After claiming that the jail sentence was "excessive" is his speech on July 2, Bush completely abolished the time instead of reducing it as his words implied.
Although Bush stated that he has been contemplating the Libby situation since it began, he has failed to realize the hypocrisy of his ultimate decision. It has been his administration that has constantly pleaded with judges to increase fines and punishments in cases involving national security. Yet when one of his own is taken down the lonely road of confinement, he immediately cries foul. Justice has been hop-scotched to help a loyal supporter.
Despite his "compromise" of left and right, President Bush has ended up mocking the rule of law and the convictions of the justice system. By handing out a "get out of jail free" card to Libby, he is sending a message that lying to the American people is not a serious crime.
Although Bush commuted the sentence, Libby must still serve a 2 year probation period and a $250,000 fine, a significant punishment. Significant until you factor in that under U.S. law a probation cannot exist unless a convict has served jail time, a convenient loophole for the White House. It is also imperative to remember that Libby's legal defense team has raised close to $5 million dollars on his behalf and that the fat-cat New York publishers are foaming at the mouth to get the exclusive on Libby's story...there goes that $250,000 fine. Loophole by loophole and dollar by dollar, Bush's "harsh punishment" leftover for Libby by the commutation is beginning to look more like a cakewalk.
One key feature has been overlooked: what Libby knows about the President and Vice-President. As a former chief-of-staff, Libby knows what other skeletons are in the closet. If the investigation were to go further, with enough pressure on Libby, he could crack and give away the map to the graves. By commuting his sentence, Bush is attempting to ensure that such an act is kept only a figure of speculation rather than another fiasco.
In America, lying under oath is a crime, lying under oath to save your skin is a crime and lying under oath to save others is also a crime. What the "Scooter" Libby train wreck has taught America is that if you have the right connections, you can get away with all of the above.
Lucas Alvarado-Farrar. Lucas is half Honduran and half American, but all Mexican. He is a New York native and naturally a fan of the Bronx Bombers. Lucas is a senior in CAP, plays soccer and runs track, and likes pretty much any sports activity. He is fond ... More »