President Bush has officially commuted Scooter Libby’s jail sentence while not commuting either his fines or his two-year probation.
The President’s statement on the matter can be found here.
This is by no means a full pardon, but it does correct an unduly harsh and undeserved sentence that was largely based on allegations that were never presented to the jury nor exposed at trial. Such actions are deeply harmful to the rule of law in this country — Mr. Libby should not be used as a partisan whipping boy because there was no evidence to get the targets that left-wing activists wanted so desperately to be implicated in this non-scandal. Patrick Fitzgerald knew who the leaker was from the beginning: Richard Armitage. No one was charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, and Fitzgerald’s investigation found no evidence of the broad conspiracy that the feverish dreams of the left had concocted.
Scooter Libby was sentenced by a jury, and the President made the choice to respect their decision to sanction Libby for those acts. At the same time, the prosecution’s case was exceptionally weak, and the very structure of the Fitzgerald inquest was constitutionally dubious at best.
Scooter Libby was being given disparate treatment for partisan purposes, and the President was right to commute that unnecessary and inappropriate sentence while leaving the jury’s verdict intact.