Scooter Libby Granted Clemency

President Bush has granted clemency to I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

WHEREAS Lewis Libby was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the case United States v. Libby, Crim. No. 05-394 (RBW), for which a sentence of 30 months’ imprisonment, 2 years’ supervised release, a fine of $250,000, and a special assessment of $400 was imposed on June 22, 2007;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, pursuant to my powers under Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, do hereby commute the prison terms imposed by the sentence upon the said Lewis Libby to expire immediately, leaving intact and in effect the two-year term of supervised release, with all its conditions, and all other components of the sentence.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand and seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.

GEORGE W. BUSH

Update: Gene Healy provides a partial list of people also deserving of some clemency.

  • Marsha Cunningham

    Like Kemba Smith, Cunningham, who was arrested in 1997, had no prior offenses. Nor was there any evidence that she had ever participated in a drug deal.

    Yet when police found powder and crack cocaine in the Dallas apartment that Cunningham shared with her boyfriend, and her boyfriend was caught with crack while driving her car, federal mandatory minimums kicked in. Now, Cunningham is serving 15 years in prison.

  • Dane Yirkovsky

    Yirkovsky is serving a 15-year sentence for possession of a single .22-caliber bullet.

    In December 1998 he found this bullet while doing remodeling work for a friend who was giving him a place to stay in exchange for the work. Yirkovsky put the bullet in a box in his bedroom. Later that month, the police found the bullet while searching Yirkovsky’s room after a call from his former girlfriend, who claimed he had some of her possessions. Because of Yirkovsky’s prior convictions for burglary, federal prosecutors charged him under the Armed Career Criminal Act, although he had not threatened anyone and did not have a gun.

  • Weldon Angelos

    A year ago this week, 24-year-old Angelos was sentenced to 55 years in prison for selling two small bags of marijuana to a police informant. During the transaction, Angelos was carrying a pistol in an ankle holster, although he did not threaten anyone with the weapon. Nonetheless, the law imposed a severe mandatory minimum for gun possession during a drug deal.

    In sentencing Angelos, U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell of Utah, a conservative Republican appointed by President Bush, also ran through the maximum penalties for hijacking an airplane (25 years), a terrorist bombing intending to kill a bystander (20 years), and kidnapping (13 years). The judge noted that just two hours earlier, he had imposed a sentence of 22 years in a case where a man beat a senior citizen to death with a log.

    “Is there a rational basis,” Cassell asked, “for giving Mr. Angelos more time than the hijacker, the murderer, the rapist?” Cassell called the 55-year sentence “unjust, cruel, and even irrational” but said that the law left him “no choice.”

    Of course, President Bush need not free Angelos immediately—a crime was committed—but he has the power to reduce Angelos’ sentence. Surely one mistake is a poor justification for taking away most of a young father’s life.

  • Robert Blandford, Diane Huang, David McNab, and Abner Schoenwetter

    Three American seafood dealers and one Honduran lobster-fleet owner are currently doing hard time for importing lobster tails that were the wrong size and that were packaged in clear plastic bags rather than in cardboard boxes. They ran afoul of the Lacey Act, a federal statute that makes it a crime to import fish or wildlife taken “in violation of any foreign law.”

    The U.S. government argued that they had broken Honduran law because some of the lobster tails—3 percent, to be exact—were less than five and a half inches long, and because a Honduran regulation required that the lobster tails be packed in boxes. Yet Honduran officials testified that no laws had been violated.

    Nonetheless, Blandford, McNab (the Honduran national), and Schoenwetter, three small-business men with no previous criminal records, were sentenced in 2001 to eight-year terms. Their “partner in crime,” Huang, got off easy: two years’ incarceration for the mother of two young children.

55 years for selling pot to an undercover police officer while carrying a pistol in an ankel holster? Geez is that over the top. Kill a man you go to jail for less time. Rape a woman and you go to jail for less time. Commit a terrorist act and you’ll go to jail for less time. But sell some dope while carrying a pistol, why lock ’em up and throw away the key!

Update II: More from President Bush here.

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.

Okay, but what about 55 years for selling pot while carrying a pistol? Is that a crime worse than murder or kidnapping? And what about the lobster crime, eight years? Based on the lobster crime punishment Libby should be executed by firing squad. And the single .22 calibre bullet in a box (with no gun)? Talk about ridiculous.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. jeff b says:

    Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, Chief Decider Guy, commit the biggest jackassery in the long and noble history of jackasses.

    What kind of signal does this send? He was guilty, so I couldn’t pardon him, but I don’t think he should be punished, because he’s my pal, and I don’t want Dick to shoot me in the face.

    Is that about right?

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    And Marc Rich served how long?

  3. jpe says:

    Talkleft has been relentless in pointing out Bush’s sparing use of the pardon power. Given his record, I assume that unless you’re a well-connected Republican, you’re outta luck.

  4. I’m all for correcting injustices wherever we can find them, but can you really expect this, or any other president, to right all wrongs or under no circumstances right none of them? The perfect is still the enemy of the good.

    In a fly-on-the-wall-as-God-stares-down-at-the-universe-sort-of-way I have no idea if Libby should have been convicted or if President Bush should have commuted his sentence, but I will admit to a massive dollop of schadenfreude for the apoplexy of all those suffering from BDS this commutation has inflicted.

  5. Pug says:

    There are about two million men locked up in prison tonight. Quite a few of them are there for non-violent and sometimes rather minor crimes. About a third are in for violent crimes, a third for drug crimes and another third for various non-violent crimes (property crimes like theft).

    Most of them made the fatal mistake of not having money, influential friends and family, or going to court with a public defender.

    I know a 26-year old father of a young daughter doing 7 years for what amounted to $1,305 worth of bad checks (and, no, he had no prior convictions). But that’s how it works in America.

    Scooter Libby is lucky enough to have money, influential friends and a million dollar lawyer.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Scooter Libby is lucky enough to have money, influential friends and a million dollar lawyer.

    Of course, without those things, he’d never have been in this mess to begin with. His position of influence is precisely what made him the subject of an investigation into a crime that he didn’t commit and, indeed, for which no one was ever charged. That, despite the fact that the “guilty” party, Richard Armitage, has “confessed” to the “crime.”

    Libby was in essentially the same boat as Martha Stewart: A celebrity who became the subject of a long investigation and who “had” to be prosecuted despite the underlying crime not being there.

    That doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of other schmoes out there who got a raw deal. I don’t know anything about the bad check writing friend, for instance, but it doesn’t sound like a just result. But it doesn’t follow that Scooter Libby should go to jail.

    Indeed, some substantial portion of our non-violent inmate population should be elsewhere. The president can’t well pardon all of them, though: That’s the subject of a larger public debate. He can shield people who were railroaded trying to serve his administration, though.

  7. William d'Inger says:

    I am severely disappointed, angry even, but I’m not surprised. Why not? Look at it from Bush’s point of view, there’s nothing he can do to please the opposition, so he might as well please the loyalists. That way there will be at least a few people left happy to have him in office.

  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Let us examine this. Libby is convicted of lying about something the prosecutor already knew the answer to. The prosecutor kept that information from the jury and based his case on the testimony of Tim Russert, who’s written and oral statements did not match. Some would call that suborned perjury. A judge in this case sentenced him like he had committed the original crime, that being outing a covert agent, which Plame according to law, was not. His sentence was outside the guidelines for his “crime”. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, as President of the United States committed perjury in an actual criminal case. He lost his law license in Arkansas for 5 years. I see fairness depends on which party one belongs to. I wonder how much Clinton made from selling pardons compared to what Bush has made.

  9. Christopher says:

    You bleeding heart liberals are great to listen to! LOL! WAAAAAA! Libby got off! WAAAAAA! Wow, where were u guys when Clinton was pardoning a list of bad guys the length of my arm?

    Steve, you are the biggest bleeding heart of all. By the way, those people you listed are all criminals. The only thing Libby was guilty of is being a republican.

  10. ken says:

    Reading James Joyner is helpful if you want to understand the conservative mind and why people like Usama bin Laden and Scooter Libby remain free and unmolested by justice.

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    Oh for crying out loud ken, don’t be such a lame ass.

  12. grewgills says:

    “I don’t believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own, unless there are new facts or evidence of which a jury was unaware.”
    GWB

    I guess the rules change when the crime is obstructing justice to protect Cheney and Rove.

    Oh, and of course the old chestnut, “If there’s a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is… If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of.”

  13. Bithead says:

    Hmmm.

    Libby as convicted based on an investigation of an action that was not even a crime. What we have here, is Democrats extracting a pound of flesh for political purposes. They ended up with Scooter Libby on a very thin beef indeed, because they could get more. In the end, this is revenge.

    And I say to the Democrats… Stow your ‘outrage’. If your need for a pound of flesh extends so far as to include conviction over a “crime” that had nothing to do with the original allegations which started that multi billion dollar investigation /fiasco /witch hunt… you remember, the one you never got any convictions on, then you have larger problems than sticking an old man in jail for 30 months is going to solve… A man who, it should be pointed out, who has served his country faithfully for longer than most of you have been wasting air.

    After the long list of pardons handed out by the Clintons, and for that matter, after Clinton himself not seeing jail time, after watching Sandy Berger not receiving jail time, your complaints are falling on deaf ears. You have no legs upon which to stand.

  14. Bithead says:

    Correction:

    “They ended up with Scooter Libby on a very thin beef indeed, because they could get more.” shuld read:

    They ended up with Scooter Libby on a very thin beef indeed, because they could NOT get more.

    sorry about that.

  15. Michael says:

    Most of them made the fatal mistake of not having money, influential friends and family, or going to court with a public defender.

    Oh, and committing a crime.

    The only thing Libby was guilty of is being a republican.

    Oh, and perjury.

    “I don’t believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own, unless there are new facts or evidence of which a jury was unaware.”
    GWB

    I guess the rules change when the crime is obstructing justice to protect Cheney and Rove.

    Bush didn’t replace the jury’s verdict, he changed the judge’s sentence.

    Libby as convicted based on an investigation of an action that was not even a crime.

    Disclosing the identity of a covert operative is in fact a crime.

  16. Bithead says:

    Hey, Michael,

    Oh, and perjury.

    So why isn’t Bill Clinton in jail?
    Oh, wait, he’s a Democrat, and Libby a Repuyblican. So the reason that the Democrats want Libby in jail is what, again?

    Disclosing the identity of a covert operative is in fact a crime

    But, that’s not what he was convicted of. It’s apparently the little facts what slip by you.

  17. Michael says:

    So why isn’t Bill Clinton in jail?
    Oh, wait, he’s a Democrat, and Libby a Repuyblican. So the reason that the Democrats want Libby in jail is what, again?

    Was Bill Clinton convicted of perjury? Not that I know of.

    But, that’s not what he was convicted of. It’s apparently the little facts what slip by you.

    No, it’s not what he was convicted of, but it is what the investigation was about. From your comment:

    Libby as convicted based on an investigation of an action that was not even a crime.

    The investigation was of an actual crime. The perjury conviction was based on that investigation.

  18. Bithead says:

    Was Bill Clinton convicted of perjury? Not that I know of.

    What would you call lying to a grand jury?

  19. Michael says:

    What would you call lying to a grand jury?

    The key word I used was convicted. You can only sentence someone if they are convicted of a crime. Libby was convicted of perjury, Clinton was not.

  20. Bill Clinton was banned from practicing law in the state of Arkansas and fined $25,000 following his admission of guilt as part of a deal with prosecutors to avoid further charges once he left office. He was also subsequently disbarred from pleading before the Supreme Court as well in an independent action.

    This penalty is noticeably less severe that that given to Mr. Libby both in financial terms and in terms of carrying a felony conviction on your record. Clearly, Bill Clinton must have been important and politically well connected to avoid the penalty pronounced on Mr. Libby.

  21. Michael says:

    Bill Clinton was banned from practicing law in the state of Arkansas and fined $25,000 following his admission of guilt as part of a deal with prosecutors to avoid further charges once he left office. He was also subsequently disbarred from pleading before the Supreme Court as well in an independent action.

    All of which is still not a conviction.

    This penalty is noticeably less severe that that given to Mr. Libby both in financial terms and in terms of carrying a felony conviction on your record. Clearly, Bill Clinton must have been important and politically well connected to avoid the penalty pronounced on Mr. Libby.

    Or, it could be that Mr. Libby was convicted while Mr. Clinton was not.

    What is so hard to understand about the fact that you cannot be sentenced for a crime until you have been convicted of that crime?

  22. Bithead says:

    See the difference, here, he is; we’re talking about justice. You’re talking about technicalities.

  23. Michael says:

    See the difference, here, he is; we’re talking about justice. You’re talking about technicalities.

    Or, looking at it another way, I’m talking about the rule of law, and you’re talking about the rule of mob.

  24. Michael, Bill Clinton plead guilty to avoid a trial and any further punishment. You can say he wasn’t convicted all you like, but it is a distinction without a difference.

  25. Michael says:

    charles,
    As far as I’m aware it wasn’t a plea deal, it was a public admission of wrongdoing, which is legally quite different. There was never an admission of having committed a crime, and there was never a conviction of having committed a crime, so there was no possibility that Clinton could face jail time.

    I understand you feel that he was guilty, regardless of what was decided in the courts of law. But the fact of the matter is that we are a nation of laws and not of men. We follow those laws even when we don’t like their result, because the alternative is far worse.

  26. Bithead says:

    Or, looking at it another way, I’m talking about the rule of law, and you’re talking about the rule of mob.

    No, we are talking about equal justice under the law. What happened to Libby doesn’t qualify. Which is why the President was required to step in.