Bush got busy today playing politics with the justice system and decided to commute Scooter Libby’s prison sentence:
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.
No doubt there will be plenty of debate over this over the next week. I’m probably the 12,645th blogger to comment on it in the last hour alone, actually. I realize that this was a politically motivated action, and I’m really not going to place as much blame on Bush as others would for this. I mean, the guy has very little to lose at this point. He kinda split the difference here, and maybe it’s better that way. Let’s face it, he could have given Libby a full pardon without taking much more of a dent politically.
I’m commenting here because of Bush’s referral of Libby’s prison sentence as “excessive”. That’s probably his opinion, and I’m not sure if that’s the opinion of the nation as a whole, but he’s the President. But this word “excessive” reminded me of another convicted felon that has been featured here in the Chamber before: Genarlow Wilson
Here we have a kid that is 2 years into a 10-year sentence for receiving (consensual) oral sex from a 15-year-old when he was just 17. You’d think this thing happens every day in America, but because of a legal loophole in the state where the act occurred, Mr. Wilson got the shaft. Much has been made about Mr. Wilson’s case in the media, and it’s almost a universal opinion that the prison sentence in his case was most certainly excessive.
So…what say you Dubya? Wanna bust Genarlow out while you’re at it?
Update: Nevermind. “Bush has denied more than 4,000 commutation requests, and hundreds of requests for pardons and commutations are still pending“ I’m guessing that Wilson’s was one of those requests. (hat tip: Think Progress)
Update: OK I feel kinda stupid, as I probably should have brushed up on facts regarding clemency before posting this thread. Thanks to fellow LGFer Darren. From wiki:
The pardon power of the President extends only to offenses cognizable under U.S. Federal law. However, the governors of most states have the power to grant pardons or reprieves for offenses under state criminal law. In other states, that power is committed to an appointed agency or board, or to a board and the governor in some hybrid arrangement.
Since this is a stupid law in the state of Georgia, Bush has no power to grant this poor kid a commutation of his sentence.