After Lewis “Scooter” Libby lost his federal appeal of the two and half year prison sentence he was given for lying and obstructing justice in the CIA leak case investigation earlier today, President Bush issued a grant of Executive Clemency and commuted Libby’s sentence. In a statement Bush said, “Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation. I respect the jury’s verdict. 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.”

The president rationalized his decision this way, “My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.” So Libby has to live with a conviction and that is punishment enough? Please. I think we all knew this day was coming. This White House was never going to let a loyal soldier like Libby see the inside of a prison.

I am sure there will be lots of outrage in left leaning circles over this, but coming from an administration that has consistently rewarded loyalty over competence and the truth, Bush’s actions were anything but a surprise. It would have been more shocking if the president would have let Libby go to jail. What is most disturbing about this is the message it sends. If you are rich and or connected to power, the rules don’t apply to you. It doesn’t matter what two federal courts have ruled, the rules are different for a person like Scooter Libby than they are for you and I.

As governor of Texas, Bush had no problem with putting the mentally ill and challenged to death. He always said that he respected the ruling of the courts and the opinion of the juries in those cases, but apparently none of those people whom he put to death were not nearly as important as Dick Cheney’s friend and former chief of staff. It is amazing that just when you think that this administration can’t give another black eye to either itself or the nation, they turn around and do something as self serving as this. We are witnessing an administration that cares nothing about the rule of law. Its critics have said time and time again that the Bush administration acts like it is above the law, and the clemency of Scooter Libby is the strongest proof yet that these critics are right.

Bush’s statement

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse 

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