Monday, July 02, 2007

The Libby "Commutation" OUTRAGE

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.


CS legal said...

PD Dude,

Since your so outraged and possibly not quite thinking straight, I figure rather than continue to bust your balls with my qualms, I will just give you a pass on this one.

As for the politics...I don't need to tell you that its your blog-- it's certainly law related-- and its your prerogative to inject politics as you see fit. You write well, clearly bright (flawed as I beleive some of your points may be), and I am sure your a fine lawyer.

So...continue to post as desired. Your downside is that you'll have to deal with me from time to time. And it's in my nature to only "pass" on matters such as this post

Thane Eichenauer said...

I will help you out by letting the air out of your hope that the elected Democrats in congress have the ability, much less the principles, to take any particular action as a result of the Libby commutation (I may get a and another Democratic Party fundraising letter as a result but that isn't accomplishing anything concrete).

The nature of ANY government is such that the privileged members take (for granted) certain benefits. If the Democrats aren't outraged by the ongoing deaths of American men and women (and Iraqi men and women) as a result of playing war in Iraq then they aren't likely to when it comes to a piddling (to them) 30 month sentence.

CS Legal said...

PD Dude,

And if Thane didn't convince you of anything in his post, heres a link to a good article about the hypocrisy you mention, and the democrat/liberal ones that you don't...ya know, so you can spread out your outrage a bit.

CS Legal said...

PD Dude said...

CS - No one who is honest will deny that the whole pardon thing is fraught with areas of conflict, hypocrisy and things of the like. I don't need to defend the Clinton pardons (or the Bush pardons before that, etc...) to note that this was something special. Clearly, though, pardons bring out the best and worst of a president because it is a completely unchecked power that is granted to such a small percentage of people out of literally millions of potentially viable candidates.

The reason that this is so different is because clearly Bush is continuing a coverup with his pardon. His statement that the punishment is excessive is as bald-faced a lie as one can tell - his justice department just took a case to the Supreme Court to ensure that someone got the same punishment for the same crime, and regularly decries attempts by judges to use the same standard as Bush used in this commutation (and again - realize that the pardon is coming next year, as certain as next year's leap year).

The fact that he chose to lie about his reasons shows that he either had a quid pro quo with Libby beforehand ("you take a bullet for us on this one, and stop the investigation at your level with your lies, and we'll take care of you"), or he is attempting to prevent Libby from trying to get out of prison by singing about what Bush/Cheney really know. If you debate that the pardon is about anything other than those two options, then you're not being intellectually honest.

We can debate until we're blue in the face about the Clinton pardons, or any others, but it is ridiculous. There has never, in my understanding, been a pardon like this - expressely stopping an investigation by having your underling lie, and then expressely stopping it again by pardoning them when they're convicted of it. This is little different than the firing of Archibald Cox, only done after the conviction.

Perhaps you want to argue the merits of the Clinton pardons, or the Bush 41 ones, or anything else about them, but I refuse to, because they are not analogous, and they only distract from the real issue. I'm quite sure I could have a perfectly legitemate argument with Milosevic about how reasonable it was to massacre all the fighting aged men and boys in Srebenica, or with the Rwandan Hutus who want to talk about the need to kill Tutsis after their president was assassinated by them, or with Stalin about how necessary it was to punish the Ukranians after they collaborated with the Germans during WWII. All those would have legitemate points for and against, but ultimately, even engaging in the argument is a defeat for honesty, reason, and morality.

This Bush pardon stands on it's own as an evil, anti-democratic and contra-law and order act that must be condemned as such by all honest, American-loving people for what it is without qualification or attempt to compare it with other, lesser acts.

CS Legal said...

PD Dude,

Oh Pulleeeze...the common thread in these posts have been hypocrisy (mentioned first by you I might add). However, I am sorry to say that you have no business accusing someone of being a hypocrite when you are one yourself.

Case and Point:

"This Bush pardon stands on it's own as an evil, anti-democratic and contra-law and order act that must be condemned as such by all honest, American-loving people for what it is without qualification or attempt to compare it with other, lesser acts."

Really???? Since when did you convert to the CS Legal point of view? I seem to recall when I posted about the Duke La Cross team and Paris Hilton, you didn't want to condemn that for what it was. You insisted on constantly referring to the poor, the minorities, the unfortunate etc...etc... But here you feel perfectly fine condemning and not wanting to compare other situations and other pardons. You want that to stand on its own. Sorry...but in this respect, your a hypocrite.

Moreover, u never respond to my specific examples of similar situations (e.g. the secret prison leak) and why you don't condemn that? So i will give you a few more examples to refresh your recollection so you don't think the Bush administration is the only one lying in wait behind every bush (no pun intended):

Where was the PD Dude when Sandy Berger pled guilty to removing and destroying classified documents?? He was supposed to have destroyed those because it detailed damaging information about what the Clinton administration knew and did or did not do about terrorism and al qaeda. The argument goes that he was covering up on behalf of President Clinton (similarly as to what is alleged about Libby). What no outrage?? Was that less of a potential cover up and threat to national security than the Bush pardons? Debatable perhaps, but I doubt it...again its only your politics that makes you have a selective memory.

How about Roger Clinton's Pardon for drug possession? How many offenders has the PD Dude (or Cs-Legal for that matter) represented in his career for that? Tons I bet...and how many have received pardons??? Thats Wheres the diatribe about the indigent and poor that you represent about that?? What about the investigation of Hilary Clinton brother for paying money and bribing officials for pardons? Not that offensive to you? you see PD Dude, lets not act as if the Bush pardon is some kind of a wake-up call for you. The fact is that you (and we) have had plenty of those, you just keep hitting the snooze button when the offenders politics suits yours.

Our entire discussion over the last month has dealt less with whose right or wrong. Rather, its about hypocrisy. But if your a hypocrite yourself than you have no business accusing others of the same. You have two choices: be consistent and accuse others of being hypocrites; or stick to the merits of a given subject and argue in favor or against.

So far, however, consistency is not your strongest suit.

Anonymous said...

CS, are you intentionally being thick?

1. This is not a history blog and it has only been on-line since 2003. Why would there be comments on the Clinton era? It's focus is on legal current events.

2. Your posts here and your post in the police officer aquittal thread entirely miss this point. While many voters many not quite get it yet either, most know there is something deeply amiss with our government. It's about blind faith in a corrupt or at best misleading government, and all of these are connected.

a) The police officer aquittal
b) The secret prisons and torture
c) Gitmo and habeas corpus
d) The Libby pardon.

If you are not aware that the neo-conservatives have used panic over crime, and then panic over terrorism, to to instill a timid dependency on government, a brand of government that thinks the Constitution is just a "damn piece of paper," then it's time to pull your head out of the sand.

The Duke case, the Innocence Project, the secret prisons and torture, on and on, and now the Libby case, they are all restoring the healthy mistrust of government our Founders designed into the Bill of Rights.

On the Duke case and your lack of understanding PD Dude's post, "In California, $60 is spent on indigent defense for every $100 allotted to prosecutors. The lack of funding translates into lack of support services, training and investigation, excessive caseloads, and too little time spent meeting with clients and preparing cases for trial."

cs legal said...

How the he'k does 12 jurors voting to acquit a cop amount to a ".... blind faith in a corrupt or at best misleading government..."??? Are you claiming that the government influenced those jurors or somehow interfered?? If so, maybe I will agree with you. Otherwise, I guess 12 in a box voting to acquit only amounts to the "people have spoken" when its one of your politically correct defendants.

Sandy Berger's conduct, charge and plea happened post Clinton and after 2003...during this current adminstration is when he destroyed the documents mentioned....this was just an example so you stop making it sound that this adminstration is the first or only one to engage in the activities you mention. So PD Dude could have been outraged or even posted about it if he so cared. That is not "history" just selective outrage on your part. If you really want your jaw to drop, do some research on Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon and you will be amazed at the corruption and criminal activity. Perspective and honesty, my friend, is what I am talking about-- before you continue to claim the sky is falling like at no other time in our history.

The point is not for you to have a historical blog...just to recognize that what you mention occurs by those who are in power generally, and not just by neo-cons. The reason this is crucial is because you yourself either expressly or implicitly assert that its Bush and the neo-cons that do this. Except for paying a tiny bit of lip service to the other political party's violations, you say nothing. Unfortunately, the Bush adminstration drives you so crazy that you just don't seem to see straight.

And sorry...whether you agree with it or not, you should be outraged at the prison leak...or at least condemn it with the same fervor as you do the Plame leak. If you claim its against the law and threatens CIA agents and the like, then intellectual honesty dictates you say the same for the prisons. If its the law and it was broken, you dont get to choose which leak you condone and which one makes you outraged...thats not up to you if you are to be consistent in arguing the point.

I am afraid that you are missing the point...or perhaps u just don't understand the concepts I am trying to convey.

Your dodging of the questions, the comparisons, and other points I have made, makes your positions that much more suspect. I am sorry...but your coming off as nothing more than a partisan political hack who is perfectly willing to suspend his principles if the offender is someone who brings home the goods on your pet political issues. If you weren't, then you would condemn the acts that I have mentioned as nothing less than "evil" as you do this adminstrations. Its nothing more than cop-out to say "well...i dont have to talk about the lefts violations" to discuss Bush's.

Either acknowledge, equate and condemn similar violations by those on the left or just admit your bias and stop trying to pretend that you are consistent in the positions you hold..

PD Dude said...

Thank you, anon, for connecting the dots so well about what I'm about on this blog. I wish I could've written it so well.

CS, I'll address the only two points you've made that have been unadressed. The rest are well done throughout the blog, and it's not worth going over again.

Sandy Berger - I have yet to hear much of the true facts of this case, aside from what was on the Drudge Report as innuendo. Clearly, something happened, as he was prosecuted. Clearly, it was not as bad as Drudge (and implicitely, you) think it to be, as he was not punished as such. I figure it's sort of easy - we have a Republican administration that has shown it is willig to destroy our legal system for purposes of politics, and this administration prosecuted Berger. If the best a Republican administration in the middle of an election could do in a case that had serious ramifications for the presidential election was a misdemeanor and a fine, then I'm guessing that there was a lot of smoke, and little flame.

Secret Prisons - This is pretty nuanced, and perhaps nuance isn't your best strength, but I'll try. Outing Valerie Plame was an act of pure political hit job that had nothing to do with advancing out country, done by the most senior members of the administration, and probably ordered from the top. It was done to harm someone else, in advance of a narrow political agenda.

The revealing of the secret prisons was a leak that is much more like a "whistleblower," in that it came from lower level sources and was done to show that the US was flouting the law, an attempt to get the US to start following the law by publicizing for the ignorant public the manner in which we were flouting international law, and embarassing us enough so that we were forced to again abide by international law.

I realize it's not a perfect explanation, but there is clearly no similarity. Now, that being said, the government does have the right to try and find out who did that leak, and anyone who lies during that investigation, or otherwise illegally obstructs justice, would have to pay the price (unlike Libby, who was obstructing for the government, not from the government).

I never saw a personalization of the prison leaks that gave anyone's name, it only told of a policy, and presumably the only people harmed by it is the people in charge who ordered it, or the whole country (whether you feel we are harmed by the actions or the disclosure probably says more about a person's politics than anything else).

So, I hope I've addressed the two big issues you brought up, and continue to bring up over and over.

Charles Jones said...

Boy I am SO glad to read this blog. I read about this in the papers and it just spells "class justice" to me.
Thanks for putting it out there.

Dennis R. Wilkins said...

I am a liberal Democrat, and I don't agree with much of what CS Legal says regarding politics. And I dislike the Bush administration in its entirety. And I agree that all of what is happening is connected in a general way - the growing disrespect for the law is an outgrowth and response to the idea that our country is not being led properly, an unpopular war rages on, the wrong people get off, and injustice seems to be frequently occuring.

All that said, I will point this out as a loyal Democrat: The beating that our Constitution has endured in California (3 strikes, sex offender registration, growing militancy of the courts, skyrocketing prison sentences and burgeoning prisons, etc.) has been at the hands largely of Republican Governors aided by weak-willed Democratic legislators. Three Strikes is gonna pass? Let's make it tougher. Three Strikes costs too much? Bottle up hearings on whether Three Strikes is actually working. Prison system screwed up beyond belief? Ignore it and pass the buck, because the prison guards union is too powerful. A strong reason that Democratics do so well in statewide offices in California is because they long ago adopted the "tough on crime" rhetoric of the Republicans. Take that away from Republicans, and many of them start to look like nutty religious and/or racist social conservatives.

Thus, my party has done a great job of co-opting the trashing of the Constitution, making it very much a bi-partisan hosing.

BTW - I am a big fan of Clinton - voted for him twice. But I didn't see him stand up for the Constitution all that often, and I wasn't particularly thrilled with many of his judicial nominees. The truth is that "tough on crime" sells very well in this country and always has. "Prison and parole reform," "fairness in sentencing," and "ending the drug war" are noble sentiments that most sane people agree ought to be done. But almost any politician who does gets screwed. Remember Governor Ryan in Illinois, the man who commuted ALL death sentences? Bold, courageous, and morally right. He's in prison now. That crusade didn't help him much, now did it?

Grunt said...

Your clients don't go down because they are not rich white republicans. They go down because they kill and maim people. Just exactly who did Libby shoot, stab, rape or rob then? You really do need to divorce your anti Bush sentiments, which you have every right to hold, from the administration of criminal justice.

There is a genuine difference between being convicted of obstructing a nonsensical politically motivated witch hunt of an investigation and the kind of gang banging, life destroying mayhem your clients indulge themselves in.

Anonymous said...

"nonsensical politically motivated witch hunt of an investigation" Is this what lawyers call it when a covert CIA agent's identity is disclosed?