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The Collective
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I started to leave the following as a comment over at OTB, but it become a post, so here it is:

I look at the Libby situation in a fairly narrow way: Libby was convicted of committing perjury-he lied to a grand jury. Setting aside the underlying crime issue (and I agree with James on that one-i.e., that there never was an underling crime in Libby’s case) and all the rhetoric from the Democrats (which, to me, is predictable background noise at the moment), I can’t get away from the fact that Libby broke the law (and as I have written as early as yesterday, I don’t understand why-it seems quite pointless). As such, I fear that he has to face the consequences and Bush’s commutation (and, it wouldn’t surprise me, eventual pardon) simply sends a signal that one of his cronies can get away with criminal behavior.

I don’t like that message-especially given the general attitude from the administration that they shouldn’t be accountable for what they do-at least not to any outside entities.

I would tend to agree that the 30 month sentence seemed harsh, but there are a lot of overly harsh sentences handed out all the time, and yet those are not commuted or even discussed in public. How many other families and careers have been devastated because of one mistake? Those persons have had to deal with the consequences of their actions, sad though those consequences may be.

Further: it seems a bit hypocritical for the GOP establishment and their supporters to be up in arms over perjury given that the impeachment of President Clinton was based in large measure on the issue of lying under oath.

Update: Another way to look at my position is this: one can argue that the investigation should never have started, giving the fact that an actual crime was never formally alleged, and one can argue that prosecuting Libby was a sacrifice to the political gods over the whole Plame thing. Fine-I think that there is room to criticize the process. None of that, however, justifies Libby’s lying to the grand jury. As such, the commutation is hard to defend, in my mind at least. If Libby had simply told the truth, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation at the moment. Hence, as I said at the top of the post, I ultimately take a very narrow view of the issue.

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5 Comments

  1. “I would tend to agree that the 30 month sentence seemed harsh”

    The jail term specifically — and the sentence generally — were well within the federal Sentencing Guidelines.

    The long-standing, unyielding position of the Bush Justice Department (e.g., in litigating Rita v. U.S.) has been that any sentence within the Guidelines should be treated as per se reasonable.

    Go figure.

    Comment by KipEsquire — Tuesday, July 3, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

  2. I’m pleased Libby didn’t get a pardon because it’s important that people, especially government officials be truthful to investigators and grand juries. Libby committed the crime.

    The circumstances of the case are best dealt with during sentencing. The judge’s sentence was within the federal guidelines. It’s not unreasonable for President Bush to commute the sentence due to those circumstances. The judge couldn’t do much, but the President could.

    It’s not like Libby got a slap on the wrist. His days of government service are over, his law license will likely be revoked, he has a hefty fine and lots of legal bills, and he still must serve two years probation.

    Comment by Sean Hackbarth — Tuesday, July 3, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  3. “he has a hefty fine and lots of legal bills”

    And a $5 million defense fund, is what I’ve heard.

    Comment by Anderson — Tuesday, July 3, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

  4. Steve you wrote-

    and all the rhetoric from the Democrats (which, to me, is predictable background noise at the moment),

    The response from conservative bloggers, and you’re a rare exception, has been equally predictable. Lets compare this to Clinton pardoning Mark Rich, that Armitage was the one who made the leak etc etc.

    Being predictable in politics depends on which side of the aisle you are talking about.

    Bill(A registered Democrat since 1979)

    Comment by The Florida Masochist — Tuesday, July 3, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

  5. Kip: I know that the sentence was well within the guidelines, I personally thought it was more than I would have assigned, but that’s a moot issue. And point taken on the sentencing guidelines and the Bush DoJ.

    In regards to the fines (and bills) it is my understanding that at least some of that will be taken care of via contributions.

    And Bill: Point taken-the reactions have, in general, been quite predictable. I was referring, in the post, to James’ comments on Reid and company, but that isn’t clear given the way I wrote the post.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, July 3, 2007 @ 10:05 pm

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