While Bush hating liberals are still foaming at the mouth this morning from the news of Bush’s decision to commute Scooter Libby’s prison sentence, there are those who think the sentence commutation simply didn’t go far enough. The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal editorial thinks Bush should have given Libby a full pardon:
President Bush’s commutation late yesterday afternoon of the prison sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby will at least spare his former aide from 2 1/2 years in prison. But by failing to issue a full pardon, Mr. Bush is evading responsibility for the role his Administration played in letting the Plame affair build into fiasco and, ultimately, this personal tragedy.
Mr. Libby will have to pay a fine of $250,000 and serve two years probation. This reflects the leniency that was previously recommended by the federal probation office but was rejected by Judge Reggie Walton in his vindictive sentence.
These columns have had cause to defend the Bush Presidency from what we’ve seen as often meritless or exaggerated partisan attacks, notably over national security and the Iraq war. This, however, will stand as a dark moment in this Administration’s history. Joe Wilson’s original, false accusation about pre-war intelligence metastasized into the issue of who “outed” his wife, Valerie Plame, as an intelligence officer. As the event unfolded, it fell to Mr. Libby to defend the Administration against Mr. Wilson’s original charge, with little public assistance or support from the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell or Stephen Hadley.
In no small part because of these profiles in non-courage, it was Mr. Libby who found himself caught up in prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s hunt for the Plame leaker, which he and his masters at Justice knew from Day One to be State Department official Richard Armitage. As Mr. Fitzgerald’s obsessive exercise ground forward, Mr. Libby got caught in a perjury net that we continue to believe trapped an innocent man who lost track of what he said, when he said it, and to whom.
The Opinion Journal makes an impassioned argument that Bush should have wiped out Libby’s entire conviction, not just his prison sentence, but I have a feeling a pardon will be coming at a later date. I won’t be surprised if Bush pardons Libby as he leaves office in 2009.
The leftists’ howls of protests are quite the display of hypocrisy. They need to be reminded that it was they who demanded that President Clinton commute the prison terms for 16 Puerto Rican terrorists who were convicted of seditious conspiracy. Most hadn’t even served half of their sentences. Of the 16, Luis Rosa got the best deal. He was sentenced to 75 years in prison, but President Clinton commuted his sentence after serving just four years.
Hillary Clinton, herself, has quite the nerve calling Bush’s commuting Libby’s 30 month prison sentence cronyism when her husband pardoned Marc Rich, who was convicted of tax evasion in the amount of $42 million, as well as his own brother, Roger Clinton. My what short memories these folks have.
Update: Interestingly enough, the New York Times doesn’t think Libby’s commutation is that big of a deal.
Update II: As I suspected, the White House will not rule out a pardon for Libby at some point in the future.