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Friday, July 06, 2007
(11:55 AM) | Stephen:
Libby Lessons

George Bush commuted the prison portion of Scooter Libby's sentence - though not the probationary period, which I've read is technically impossible since the probationary period was to begin after his prison sentence - because it was excessive punishment for the crimes for which Libby was convicted. Bush also said that the remaining sentence was "harsh" enough, which is apparently already being called the Libby Motion by defense lawyers all over the country.

Not that anyone has ever cared about legal precedent when it comes to George Bush and his cronies.

But then we find out that the Bush Administration filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of one Victor Rita, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, just like Scooter Libby. In that brief, the Bush Administration argued that the 33-month prison sentence was completely reasonable, something the Supreme Court also noted, since such a sentence falls within federal sentencing guidelines.

Victor Rita is a 24-year veteran of the USMC, with an outstanding service record. In his case it was also argued that his years of exemplary service to the United States should be a mitigating factor in his sentencing. Victor Rita is, of course, in prison right now, serving out his 33-month sentence.

I'm not one of those who argue that the President shouldn't have such power and leeway to pardon and commute sentences. This is an important power, one that can serve as a person's last chance for justice, and I believe that the abuse of a thing does not necessarily indict the thing itself, rather only those who abuse it.

Giving our nation's executives - the President and Governors - such authority simply makes it incumbent upon us as citizens to stop electing power-mad, corrupt psychopaths like George Bush and Dick Cheney. It's more motivation for the online progressive community to work harder, to organize, to act and to never give up.

We have a choice as to the real legacy of the Bush presidency. It could be a legacy of failed policies, total subversion of the rule of law, murder on a massive scale, the destruction of American influence and good will around the globe. We must work to make sure that those are Bush's legacy, and that of the Republican Party, for they are the ones responsible.

But for the nation this needs to be the time to which we can point decades down the road and say, "that's when the American people woke up and took back their politics." The legacy of this sad era needs to be an enduring movement that pushes back against the elitism of Washington, DC, the idea that a small group of insulated and smug pundits and know-nothing consultants understand how the rest of us think and feel better than we do. We need a movement that is going to hold every politician regardless of party accountable to the oaths they take and accountable to us, their bosses.

That's the lesson we need to learn from the Scooter Libby nonsense, the illegal war, the illegal wiretappings, the suspension of habeas corpus, the illegal secret prisons, the illegal extraordinary rendition, the illegal torture, the dismantling of the regulatory state, the installation of political hacks into our agencies which oversee our food, our medicines, our nation's industries, our public medical and other scientific work - and of course the list goes on.

It's a fight we need to undertake for the rest of our lives, and which we need to pass on to our children. It's a fight that needs more than those who are able to volunteer full-time or work in politics vocationally. It's for all of us. And if we let down our guard again, then the robber barons, together with the theocrats and the 30% of this country that would support Bush if he ate a live baby on national TV will once again be able to exert their influence and lie their way into control of our government. We can't afford that to happen.

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