Jun 07 2007
Update – my response to the commutation news can be found here
I agree with what Clarice Feldman and the folks over at Powerline said regarding the idea posed today in the Washington Post that Scooter Libby should have his jail time commuted and his fine retained (possibly reduced). The idea is sound because a jury decided there was an infraction of the law. It was not a major one and it was not the one Fitzgerald pretends it to be. Fitzgerald KNEW who leaked Valerie Plame’s name to the media and it was not Scooter Libby.
In fact Libby was charged with claiming he talked about Plame with Russert and Fitzgerald stated, in the indictment, that was perjury. There was no leak to Russert. Only in the warped and desperate mind of Firtz-Magoo could someone claiming to have discussed the supposedly forbidden topic of Valerie Plame (CIA Employee) be charged with perjury for lying and NOT discussing said forbidden subject. The fact judge Walton could not see the pathetic irony and injustice in this aspect of the case and went ahead and sentenced Libby as if he DID leak to Russert shows why Walton is the poster child for bad judges.
Here we have the crux of the excessive punishment. Scooter said he did the bad and discussed Plame with Russert. Fitz and Russert and the jury so no you did not Scooter. You lied and did so deliberately. Fitz then says he should be sentenced as if he had leaked the name. Judith Miller can’t remember and what’s-his-name at Newsweek basically agreed with Libby on words, each just interpreted the meanings differently.
But we need to uphold our legal process and so commuting the sentence (and probably reducibng the fine by at least a 3rd for NOT leaking to Russert – as the prosecutor proved, and which makes Libby INNOCENT of the IIP charges) is the right decision. I would wait a bit though, and see if there is some sanity left in the court system. The harsh sentence tells me this case should be thrown out an retried, though for the life of me I cannot think of a legal hook to hang that on. But if it was, I think the second time around Libby would get a different result.
However, there is something to be said for closing this mess up once and for all.