I had vowed that I wasn't going to blog about this one months ago (because I knew it was going to happen as soon as the guilty verdicts came down), and yet, I sit here in such a rage right now about the Libby "commutation" (I write commutation in quotes because if there is a person alive who doesn't believe that this is a precursor to a full pardon after the election, then I have a bridge to sell you - or better yet, a prior promise by the president to let the case "and it's appeals" run it's course). I know that several of you out there complain to me that this blog strays too often from being a public defender blog into a political blog -point well taken, but this cannot be ignored, and this is a public defender issue.
You see, I represent those who commit crimes and actually pay for them, because they are not rich, white and Republican. They go to jail because their crimes are the "bad" crimes, minority crimes, poor person crimes, etc. Maybe I wouldn't be so outraged if I wasn't so convinced that Bush and Cheney told the principles involved in the cover up (Libby & Rove) that they had better cover up the involvement of the top two, and in return, they would get pardoned. In other words, go ahead and commit a crime to cover up our act of treason, and we'll pardon you later. Is there a person alive who believes that Bush really believes the penalty for perjury and obstruction of justice are too harsh? Or is it only applied to Libby (in other words, in contrast to his statement, he really doesn't respect the verdict of the jury)? Has he been going through some introspection concerning the harshness of punishment of late? This, the most retributive of modern presidents, who has utilized the power of pardon and commutation less than any president in a century?
Of course not, there has been been a quid pro quo that has taken place here, which has shown this whole process to be a sham. The investigation into the leak, the special prosecutor, the trial - a joke, one big joke with the outcome predetermined. The only downside for Bush is that he was forced to play his hand before the election, and not after as everyone had been hoping by putting off the sentence until after the appeal (an appeal that never would've finished if it had extended past election day, 2008).
And why is this a proper subject for Public Defender Dude? Well, I'll tell you why Public Defender Dude is so pissed off, rather than me just as a political being. I represent people who commit crimes. They have only one advocate - me. They get convicted based on (sometimes spurious) evidence. They spend very long periods of time in jail for breaking those laws. To hear this president, who has been at the forefront of retributive justice his whole political career, to suddenly be concerned that the punishment is too harsh is sick. What is really going on here, as in the US Attorney scandal, is the utter politicization of crime -Republicans can commit no crimes, only Democrats or groups that ordinarily lean Democratic (ie - poor and minority people, or people out there trying to increase voter participation, or things of the like). Public Defender Dude is utterly seething right now because the fact that we live in a country where there is no equal justice under the law has just been laid bare for the whole world to see in the most blatant, sick, evil, cynical and despotic manner possible.
Think we live in a free, equal, democratic country? Ask my clients how true that is. Or just ask me. I'll tell you to think again.
I sincerely hope the Democratic Congress doesn't let this go. I have no doubt that this had been agreed upon in advance, and that this commutation and pre-pardon are nothing more than a continuing attempt to obstruct justice. Bush's dad did it with Weinberger, North, Poindexter et al. Ford did it with Nixon, and now Bush is doing it with Libby. And to think that Republicans became outraged at the Mark Rich pardon, and now may compare that to this pardon, or blithely ignore that prior outrage to applaud this, just makes me red with anger. They did the same thing with the Lewinsky affair to compare it to Watergate (not really because they meant to say that Lewinsky was that bad, but to attempt to lower the meaning of Watergate by debasing it with comparisons to something as meaningless as the Lewinsky affair). The same thing is set to happen here by the Republican spin machine - this is no different than the Rich pardon - not to make the Rich pardon seem so terrible, but to make this seem so banal.
It is the true banality of evil.
Now that I've got that off my chest, I feel a little bit better.