Monday, August 06, 2007

Sen. Levin: Bush was wrong...

When President Bush commuted the sentence of Fibby Libby, I was incensed and dashed a letter off to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) and Sen. Carl Levin (D) expressing my anger. I haven't heard from Stabenow, but I received the following email response from Sen. Levin today [emphasis mine]:
Dear Mrs. xxxxx:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the prison sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. I am disappointed that President Bush undermined the application of justice by commuting Mr. Libby’s sentence.

As you know, Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in charge of investigating the leak of the identity of an undercover Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, filed court papers on April 5, 2006, that indicate that President Bush directed Scooter Libby to leak classified intelligence to a newspaper reporter to defend statements made by President Bush prior to the war in Iraq. Mr. Libby was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation into the leak of the CIA employee’s identity. These charges focused on Mr. Libby’s intentionally misleading statements to federal investigators and a grand jury. On March 6, 2007, a federal jury convicted him on two counts of perjury, one count of obstruction of justice, as well as one count of making false statements to federal investigators. He was subsequently fined $250,000 and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. After a brief appeals process reaffirming the jail sentence, on July 2, 2007, President Bush announced his decision to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence.

The power of the pardon is derived from Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, which states that the President “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.” The Supreme Court has widely interpreted this language to give the President power to pardon or commute the sentence of any convicted felon for any reason. Critics of this power argue that pardons are sometimes used for political purposes, rather than to correct judicial error as originally intended by the framers of the Constitution. Although President Bush’s pardon was within his Constitutional authority, I believe it was wrong to block the punishment ordered by a federal judge and jury by commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence.

Thank you again for writing.

Carl Levin
Thank you for responding in such a timely manner, Senator. Your disapproval of Bush's pardon mirrors that of 66% of Americans who also said Bush should not have intervened on Libby's behalf.

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