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Libby, the Marc Rich Pardon and Congressional Hearings

There is a lot of media chatter about Rep. John Conyers' decision to hold hearings next week into the use of the Presidential pardon power, including Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence. TChris wrote earlier about Tony Snow's uninformed reaction. There's also a lot of chatter and criticism about President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich.

Since the Rich pardon and the congressional hearings about it occurred several years ago, I decided to do a little research. Here's the transcript of the second Congressional hearing into President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich.

I think it's significant that President Clinton waived executive privilege for the hearing and allowed his aides who participated in the Rich pardon discussion to testify, no holds barred.

Will Bush do the same next week?

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Perjury Trap?

Steve Benen says:

I suppose there might be a less compelling argument [in favor of Scooter Libby]than Peretz's out there, but I haven't seen it. I open the floor to nominations.

Here is my nomination:

I feel that [Libby] should not have had to face a perjury trap: the choice between prison for lying, or prison for his role in a set of transactions that the press regards as not merely O.K. but sacrosanct. In fact, if journalists had a more reasonable view about this, the reporters whom Mr. Libby tried to peddle this story to would have said, “Look, outing C.I.A. agents is bad and we are not going to help you do it anonymously.” I bet that today, commuted sentence and all, Mr. Libby wishes they had done just that.

Say huh? Steve, I think I have the winner here.

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A History Lesson For Tony Snow

Responding to news that Rep. John Conyers has scheduled a hearing on President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence, Tony Snow asked: "And while he's at it, why doesn't he look at January 20th, 2001?," referring to President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich. But why, Mr. Snow, should Congress take a second look at the Rich pardon? Do you not recall that the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Rich pardon less than a month after it occurred?

If the Rich pardon was worthy of a hearing, what's the objection to giving the Libby commutation similar scrutiny?

Update (7/6/07) (TalkLeft): Lots more on this here and at Think Progress here. Also check out Dan Froomkin today, The Clinton-Did-It Flimflam.

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Scooter Libby Pays His $250k Fine

Scooter Libby paid his $250,000.00 fine today. A "source close to Libby" says he paid it with his personal funds, not with money from his legal fund.

He had no choice but to pay the fine now. On June 22, Judge Reggie Walton had ordered him to pay it immediately. (See page 7 of the Judgment in a Criminal Case. (pdf))

Update: Here's a new Dan Froomkin column. I think he's been providing the most thorough MSM coverage on the commutation.

And Tony Snow has an op-ed on Libby and Bush in USA Today. He still doesn't get it. No one is complaining that Bush grants too many pardons. He's far too stingy with them. The problem is when he does make a clemency decision, it's for one of his cronies.

By the way, getting Bush clemency figures since 2001 is no simple task. They are carefully guarded and don't appear on any government website. The folks at the Rehabilitated Project say they have them and have posted them here.

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Libby: Life on Supervised Release

As Judge Walton decides whether his order placing Scooter Libby on supervised release can stand in face of the commutation, I thought a primer on supervised release and on the specific conditions Judge Walton imposed on Libby (court order here, pdf) might be useful.

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

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Suggestions for Judge Walton on Libby's Supervised Release

There's a lot of buzz about Judge Walton's order (pdf) asking for briefs on whether Scooter Libby can be placed on supervised release since supervised release follows the service of a prison sentence and Libby didn't serve a prison sentence. [See,Scotus Blog, Sentencing Law and Policy, Big Tent Democrat and don't miss Christy at Firedoglake]

Howard Kieffer, who runs the excellent BOP Watch List-Serv, to which scores of criminal defense lawyers subscribe, has the response printed below.

Shorter version: The day Libby was booked is counted as a day in custody. He served (got credit) for his one day in prison and therefore can be put on two years of supervised release.

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Can't Get The Story Straight

Even when obligingly regurgitated, the White House can't get its story straight. Compare this:

Pardons are typically reviewed by the Justice Department and sent to the president for a final determination. But a former administration official said that in this case the White House had sent a message of “we’re not going through the usual pardon scrub, we’re going through this one ourselves.”

To this:

Before Mr. Bush spoke at Walter Reed, his press secretary, Tony Snow, fended off an unruly press corps, whose members demanded to know why Mr. Libby had received special treatment. Mr. Snow insisted that he had not, saying the case had been handled in a “routine manner.” “The president does not look upon this as granting a favor to anyone,” Mr. Snow said, “and to do that is to misconstrue the nature of the deliberations.”

There is something ironic in the lying being done to defend releasing a convicted perjurer from his sentence.

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Libby's Commutation: A Total Disrespect for the Rule of Law

The New York Times reports the Scooter Libby commutation may just set off a debate about sentencing in the country.

I hope so. As outraged as I was Monday afternoon when I first heard the news, my anger just has continued to build.

Tuesday afternoon, I was discussing the commutation on Rachel Maddow's Air America radio show. I could hear my voice, filled with anger, rising in pitch as I spoke.

How did I get here? Just last month, when Libby was sentenced, I, too, thought the lower guideline range of 15 to 21 months would be adopted. I would not have been upset if the Judge had departed from the guidelines and imposed a split sentence of 5 months in prison and 5 months on home detention. I even opined that I thought Libby had met the legal test for an appeal bond.

So where is my outrage coming from? It has little to do with Libby and everything to do with Bush, special treatment and the federal sentencing system that applies to everyone else in America.

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Bush, Joe Wilson and Hillary on Scooter Libby Commutation

A two minute AP video clip with Bush's statement defending Scooter Libby's prison sentence commutation and Joe Wilson and Hillary's reaction.

[Click on link, not the picture, then click "play".]

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Bush Screws Up Commutation

Via pontificator, this is priceless:

Section 3583 does not appear to contemplate a situation in which a defendant may be placed under supervissd release without first completing a term of incarceration. . . .

[fn 1] If either party believes that it would be helpful to seek clarification from the White House regarding the President's position on the proper interpretation of Section 3583 . . . they are encouraged to do so

Hahahahaha! BushCo, incompetent even in corruption. Hilarious!

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Holiday Eve Scooter Libby Reaction

If President Bush thought announcing Scooter Libby's commutation just before the 4th of July would decrease media attention or criticism, he was wrong. It's a firestorm out there, and it keeps on growing.

Check out Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post, his column is filled with unanswered questions about Libby and Cheney and has scores of links to news articles, blog posts and editorial page criticism.

Arianna educates the media that this is not a left or right issue, it's a right or wrong issue, and there's plenty of conservative criticism of Bush's action.

Sentencing Law and Policy has a roundup of legal commentary.

Rep. John Conyers promises to hold hearings on the commutation. The first will be Wednesday, July 11, at 10:15 am in room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Jane and Marcy will be there live-blogging for Firedoglake. They need donations. Please, give what you can.

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The movie "The Ref" proves true

Anybody remember this priceless line from "The Ref" (1994)?

Connie Chasseur: Who would catch a criminal, and then let him go free?

Mary Chasseur: Republicans.

I had a conversation with a prosecutor today about a two level enhancement for obstruction on a client in custody. I told her that the Executive Branch doesn't count obstruction as a jailable offense, so he should not get the two level enhancement.

She was not amused.  

None of us are.

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Dershowitz Writes. Hilarity Ensues

This piece by Alan Dershowitz made me laugh out loud:

The appellate judges had to see that Libby's arguments on appeal were sound and strong -- that under existing law he was entitled to bail pending appeal. (That is why I joined several other law professors in filing an amicus brief on this limited issue.)

Hahahahahahahahahaha. But of course brave Sir Alan. YOU filed an amicus brief. How could the Appellate Court not have recognized the utter brilliance and merit of your argument? It had to be political.

Too funny. This guy is a scream.

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Squaring These Circular Statements

President Bush said yesterday:

My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation.The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.

(Emphasis supplied.) Tony Snow said today:

"The reason I'm not going to say I'm not going to close a door on a pardon," Snow said, "Scooter Libby may petition for one." "The president thinks that he has dealt with the situation properly," he added. "There is always a possibility or there's an avenue open for anybody to petition for consideration of a pardon."

So the question is how long lasting is "long-lasting" in Bushworld? I predict approximately 18 months.

Update [2007-7-3 14:16:25 by Big Tent Democrat]: From the horse's mouth:

"As to the future, I rule nothing in and nothing out," the president said a day after commuting Libby's 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case.

Thanks squeaky.

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Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Bush

At Huffpo's request, I put together several of my strands of thought on the Libby commutation, added a few and put them in a single post, Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Bush.

Update: The Washington Post reports Bush didn't run the decision through DOJ channels.

Here's the video of Marcy Wheeler on Hardball.

The New York Times castigates Bush for Libby's commutation:

Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.

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