So Bush pardoned Scooter Libby the same day the judgment came down that he would not be able to stay out of jail while his appeal was in the works. I was honestly surprised. Not that he would pardoned, really, but that it seems so political -- blatantly political -- without any regard to whether this is for the benefit of the country or not.
I guess perjury and obstruction of justice aren't all that serious when it comes to the rule of law, after all.
UPDATE: Both David and prarie biker mention in the comments that this commutation is significantly different from an actual pardon. I disagree. There were three components to Libby's punishment: probation, a $250,000 fine, and 30 months of jail time. The jail time has now been reduced to zero.
The fine is also meaningless. Libby's defense fund was as high as $4 million a little while ago. Even if the lawyers devour all of that, raising another $0.25 million should be all that difficult for him. I doubt he will actually pay a penny of the fine. That leaves just the probation as his punishment. Big deal. As long as he doesn't drive with a suspended license, he's being punished less than Paris Hilton.
prarie biker's comparison to Sandy Berger isn't particularly apt, either. Berger did not "steal and destroy classified information" from the National Archives. He took copies of classified documents in preparation of his testimony before Congress. At worst, what he did was a security risk, there was no crime against the public interest.
A letter writer at the NY Times I think put it quite eloquently:
When George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he presided over more than 150 executions. In more than one-third of the cases — 57 in all — lawyers representing condemned inmates asked then-Governor Bush for a commutation of sentence, so that the inmates would serve life in prison rather than face execution.
Some of these inmates had been represented by lawyers who slept during trials. Some were mentally retarded. Some were juveniles at the time they committed the crime for which they were sentenced to death.
In all these cases, Governor Bush refused to commute their sentences, saying that the inmates had had full access to the judicial system.
I. Lewis Libby Jr. had the best lawyers money can buy. His crime cannot be attributed to youth or retardation. He has expressed no remorse whatsoever for lying to a grand jury or participating in the administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the war in Iraq. President Bush’s commutation of Mr. Libby’s sentence is certainly legal, but it just as surely offends the fundamental constitutional value of equality.
Because President Bush signed a commutation, a rich and powerful man will spend not a day in prison, while 57 poor and poorly connected human beings died because Governor Bush refused to lift a pen for them.
Bush wouldn't pardon inmates who's lawyers slept through their trials, yet Libby gets off. There's just something fundamentally wrong about that.