Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Scooter, we hardly knew ye

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was sentenced today.
Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was sentenced to 2½ years in prison Tuesday for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, stood calmly before a packed courtroom as a federal judge said the evidence overwhelmingly proved his guilt.

“People who occupy these types of positions, where they have the welfare and security of nation in their hands, have a special obligation to not do anything that might create a problem,” U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said.

Along with the 30 months in his own exclusive room at a federal penitentiary, Judge Walton awarded Libby a $250,000 fine and two years probation on the completion of his prison term.

The White House said that President Bush feels “terrible” for Libby and his family, but does not intend to intervene now.

Bush was informed after he got on Air Force One Tuesday to fly from the Czech Republic to Germany for the G-8 summit of industrialized nations.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino approached reporters on the aircraft to relay Bush’s reaction and said he would have no further comment.

“The president has not intervened so far in this or any other criminal matter, so he’s going to decline to do so now as well,” Perino said.


I'm betting Libby doesn't spend a day in jail. I know, that's a long shot, but here's my take on it.

Bush can't really pardon Libby right now. If he does the argument that Bush and Cheney bear some culpability for the outing of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame can easily be made. Whether Bush knew about it or not, any pardon will point the finger of the public right at the oval office.

He can wait, however. Pardons of high-profile people like Libby are normally not issued until the last days in office of a sitting president. That way the president has been able to leave office and not sustain political damage. It should also be noted that Bush, (Mr. Tough On Crime), has only issued 113 pardons since taking office. That's a very low number and none of those pardons has been issued to anyone who has not completed their jail term.

Libby will, of course, appeal. That would likely keep him out of jail until late 2008... if Judge Walton had said anything about it, which he didn't. That question remains open and Walton can require Libby report to prison while any appeals are pending. Unless appellants are dangerous, however, they are not normally expected to remain in jail during the appeal process.

If that happens expect Bush to avoid any controversy and delay any pardon until his last day in office.

Libby may want to actually go to jail. It would fatten up his resume enough to, oh, I dunno, maybe get a spot in front of the camera at FOX News, a column at Townhall.com and maybe even his own radio program. Stranger things have happened.

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