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Monday, 02 July 2007

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bitchphd

Since you're wasting time anyway, why don't you find some YouTube video of Bush saying that if anyone in the white house was involved in the leak, he wouldn't stand for it?

SEK

I'm not wasting time, I'm venting the only way I know how: research.

Rich Puchalsky

All those words, Scott. When all one needs to say in response is IOKIYAR.

At this point, anything that makes people distrust the American justice system even more is good.

Ahistoricality

Am I the only one who thinks that Bush has finally revealed his lame-duck status to the world with this commutation? Clearly what he really wanted to do was pardon, but wasn't willing to take the political heat; but he couldn't disappoint his supporters, either, so he caved in both directions simultaneously producing a result which neither side will consider just or righteous.

He's toast. Politically speaking, that is.

SEK

But if I'd said "IOKIYAR," Rich, I wouldn't have known what I'd meant. (Only now would I.)

SEK

No, ahistoricality, you're not.

McGehee

"Clearly what he really wanted to do was pardon..."

But what would Libby want, if he really believed he were innocent of the charges of which he was convicted? It seems quaint in this day and age, but it's entirely possible the man wants to clear his name in court rather than by executive fiat.

Rich Puchalsky

Well, you could have gone for "Perjury: IOKIYAR".

Not that I'm criticizing anyone's means of venting. People vent as they like to vent.

Wax Banks

If only we concerned leftish types had blogged more, THIS WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED.

Rich Puchalsky

I thought something was wrong with ahistoricality's analysis, but couldn't say what. After all, Bush's whole strategy since 2004 was to govern as a lame duck that needed no cooperation from anyone in order to carry out his core projects -- why would he care now? But that doesn't explain why he wouldn't give a full pardon. Reading around the blogs, however, I've seen it said that since Libby still has an appeal and so on coming up, he still gets to take the 5th in Congressional testimony, which wouldn't be true if he were pardoned.

SEK

Reading around the blogs, however, I've seen it said that since Libby still has an appeal and so on coming up, he still gets to take the 5th in Congressional testimony, which wouldn't be true if he were pardoned.

Dick and Libby'll be contesting what "is" is any day now, only about matters of national security instead of hummers. As you can tell, at this point I'm Photoshop angry, and wish I had an outlet more productive than irate voicemails, impassioned emails, and my large-for-a-blog-but-microscopic-for-a-constituency audience.

Ahistoricality

Rich, That would almost explain the tortured logic of the decision, and the half-assed nature of the commutation would be in keeping with the half-assed way this administration approaches everything important, but the idea that he's keeping the charges alive for some kind of cover down the road? I don't know that I'm willing to buy the idea that this administration is capable of a bank shot like that.

Rich Puchalsky

I don't know, ahistoricality. It does protect Libby against Congressional testimony (unless perhaps they give him immunity first? that might shoot down the whole idea) and it does seem like the kind of thing they'd think is clever. It's so difficult to know with them what's an evil plan (that turns out to be incompetent) and what's just incompetence (that turns out to have an evil effect).

CR

And, according to something that Delong posted, Bush and Cheney now can continue to "refuse to comment on an ongoing legal issue," as Libby will appeal in order to "clear his name." If he had been pardoned, then there'd be no reason to appeal, therefore less of a reason for them not to talk...

They're really, really good at this, aren't they?

Ahistoricality

I don't really see why a pardon on the perjury/obstruction charge would keep Libby from invoking the fifth amendment in regard to questions about anything else: in other words, the pardon doesn't have to be a slate-cleaner, like Nixon's; in fact, if it were, that would be tantamount to admitting that something illegal had happened in the leaking of Plame's cover, which they'd never do. If you read the President's statement on the commutation, he recites the right-wing talking-point (by citing right-wing talking-heads, which is cute) about Libby "not being charged with an underlying crime."

As an aside: does the president's statement remind you of a sophomore-level ethics essay, or what?

Rich Puchalsky

I think that the DeLong post that CR points to is somewhat convincing, but I most definitely disagree with CR's "they're really, really good at this". Being good at politics means succeeding. Unless anyone can make a convincing case that Bush e.g. is seriously devoting 8 years to trying to discredit the government in an ideal sense, then it's clear that he is unsuccessful -- both in terms of carrying out his apparent goals and in terms of changing public support for them long-term. All he's succeeded in so far is doing various kinds of damage: to the world, to the country, to his own political party, to vast numbers of Iraqis etc.

And this kind of commutation-not-pardon tactic is the kind of thing that, as I wrote before, the Rove crew thinks is clever. Things that you think are clever (in this sense) almost never turn out to work as effective politics.

However, there is a sense in which I suppose that CR could be right. If Bush isn't being evaluated as a politician, but as a criminal, he is pretty good at criminality. His one outstanding success has been in lining the pockets of his cronies, with minimal jail time.

Luther Blissett

Not to defend the Scoot-Dogg, but the central point of debate -- which was never up for debate with Seegar Bill -- is whether I. Scoot actually lied. He maintains, and the *National Review* crew maintain with him, that he simply didn't remember accurately.

GDM

As to ahistoricality's question about pardons and the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, the answer is that a pardon is indeed a clean slate. As the US Supreme Court wrote in 1896, "if the witness has already received a pardon, he cannot longer set up his privilege, since he stands with respect to such offence as if it had never been committed." Brown v. Walker, 161 U.S. 591, 599 (1896). In other words, a pardon precludes any possibility of self-incrimination because it negates the offense entirely. A grant of immunity to prosecution essentially works the same way--if a person cannot be prosecuted for an offense, she cannot have any fear of self-incrimination.

I would imagine that keeping Libby's right against self-incrimination intact here would be based on an argument that he is appealing his conviction, which could lead to a new trial in the future should he succeed in his appeal. If Libby might possibly be re-tried, he would have a valid (in a legal sense) privilege from testifying based on the Fifth Amendment. Granting a pardon at this point would moot the appeal and any possibility of another trial, thus depriving Libby of his privilege, thus subjecting him to testimony before Congress or any other body that might summon him).

Beyond my pedantic ramblings on the law, I'm interested in why John Krogstad gives us a link to Clinton's pardons. What, really, is the relevance? No one is suggesting that the pardon/commutation power is somehow irrelevant or should not be invoked under any circumstances. The questions are whether Scooter Libby's sentence should have been commuted and whether the commutation is payback for "taking one for the team" on Scooter's part. That said, if we are rehashing pardons past, perhaps the following link suggests more about Younger Bush's purposes than a list of Clinton's pardons:

http://www.bartcop.com/pardonsm.jpg

Cronyism runs in the family, apparently.

CR

Rich,

However, there is a sense in which I suppose that CR could be right. If Bush isn't being evaluated as a politician, but as a criminal, he is pretty good at criminality. His one outstanding success has been in lining the pockets of his cronies, with minimal jail time.

That's pretty much what I meant. The fact that they're not all behind bars is pretty astounding at this point.

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