NEXT: Congressional questioning of Libby (DUCK & COVER)
Wed Jul 4, 2007 14:51

NEXT: Congressional questioning of Libby (DUCK & COVER)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Communing with the commutation
Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2007 14:17:23 -0400
From: rj3@comcast.net
To: Learning Electronically About Freedom mailing service

The executive power that is generally lumped under the term "pardon"
derives from Article 2, Section 2 of our Constitution. The general
consensus is there is no limitations on any President's power to
grant or deny pardons or commutation of sentences.

Given the Bush Administration's unitary vision of expansive executive
power, Article 2 has provided a treasure trove for this
administration's endeavors to restore the imperial presidency that
Richard Nixon and his Watergate scandal provided America the
opportunity to reel in executive overage.

But the authority to grant pardons and commutation of sentences is
something George W. Bush has eschewed as both Governor of Texas as
well as President of the United States. He has been the least active
President in this area of executive authority in over a century.
Today our Justice Department has 2,500 pending commutation cases, as
well as 1,000 pardons.

This week President Bush gave Vice President Cheney's former Chief of
Staff, Scooter Libby a commutation of his 30 month sentence on four
felony counts of lying in the investigation of illegally revealing
the name of a CIA agent. Libby, Cheney, and Bush were involved in
delivering retribution to an administration critic who has shown us
this administration's deceit in taking us into the Iraq quagmire we
are now suffering.

When it was revealed three years ago that members of his own
administration were being implicated in the illegal act of exposing a
CIA agent the President promised us anyone involved would be
dismissed from his administration and dealt with by our judicial
system. What we have gotten is the first commutation of a felony
conviction prison sentence before the criminal has spent even one day
behind bars by a president since the 1920s.

Furthermore, the Libby commutation will now stand in a line of
similar presidential decisions made outside the confines of the
accepted review process. All such cases are suppose to be reviewed in
a Justice Department. The first President Bush pardoned six of his
own colleagues at the end of his term without Justice Department
review. Bill Clinton acted similarly when he pardoned the infamous
financier Mark Rich. And now the second Bush does the same with Libby.

Why do our Presidents act in such egregious ways with their
constitutionally based power? With the first Bush it would seem he
was protecting himself from any revelations of his own involvement in
the Iran contra scandal. With Bill Clinton it was part of his
incessant contact with the rich and powerful, that viable
presidential candidates cannot avoid, just observe the current
presidential nominating process.

With George W. Bush it seems clear the son is following in the
father's footsteps: this is an effort at trying to protect oneself
from being caught up in the maelstrom of criminal political behavior.
The scholarly literature investigating presidential pardons provides
a consensus that character is revealed in its use. Clinton persisted
with his typical pandering behavior. The two Bushes have used the
power to avoid criminal implications.

President Bush told us a 30 month sentence for Scooter Libby was
excessive. Therefore, the President has allowed him to serve no time
at all. He said he respected the jury's conviction. If this
president's word is good for anything, we should then expect him to
not pardon Scooter Libby at the end of this presidential term. So why
did the president grant a commutation now and not the pardon that so
many conservatives have been clamoring for?

The commutation, of course, keeps Libby out of prison, and presumably
quiet about any involvement President Bush and Vice President Cheney
may have had in directing the release of the name of the CIA agent.
Libby is free to pursue his appeal of his conviction. If he had been
pardoned, Congressional questioning of Libby and this whole sorted
affair would be greatly facilitated. But as he pursues his appeal, he
will use this as an excuse to try and avoid congressional testimony.
So President Bush has devised a strategy to once again protect
himself from public scrutiny.

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