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“There’s leaks in the executive branch,” George W. declared four years ago when CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity was illegally disclosed. Bush went on, solemnly declaring, “And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of.”
Perhaps you thought that “taken care of” meant, you know… punished. No one is above the law, right? And even when it’s top White House officials who “do the crime,” they should “do the time” – just like common folks are treated – shouldn’t they?
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Silly us. These are the Bushites we’re talking about! So, when Scooter Libby violated the law and was sentenced to two-and-a-half-years, he was “taken care of,” alright. George himself stepped in to circumvent the normal process, and declare that there’ll be no jail time for Scooter – not even a day.
Bush imperiously asserted that the 30-month sentence given to Libby was “excessive,” so he suddenly turned soft on crime and gave this particular felon a get-out-of-jail-free card. Scooter’s sentence was less than what others who’ve done the same kind of crime got – including people prosecuted furiously by Bush’s own justice department. Where was the presidential concern about excess in their cases? Of course, none of those felons were Oval Office insiders, and none of them know the dirty little Iraq war secrets that Scooter does – secrets that Bush and Cheney don’t want their former loyalist talking about. So Scooter got a special presidential dispensation to scoot out of his jail sentence.
Ironically, by imposing his claim of “excessive,” punishment in Scooter’s case, Bush-the-legal scholar has inadvertantly bumbled into future cases, for he has created a “Libby defense” that other lawyers will now use to reduce the sentence of their clients. After all, if it’s good enough for Libby, why not everyone else?
“Soft on Crime,” The New York Times, July 3, 2007
“Bush Commutes Libby Sentence, Calling 30 Month “‘Excessive’,” The New York Times National, July 3, 2007
“Bush Rationale On Libby Stirs Legal Debate,” The New York Times, July 4, 2007