Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Just Amazing Hypocricy On Sentencing

Ed Kilgore over at The Democratic Strategist has unearthed a stunning example of the gall of the Bush administration.

Alberto Gonzales made a speech on June 1 pushing for toughened mandatory minimum sentences which would require jail time for nearly every criminal convicted in a federal court. Here is a bit of the A.P.'s report on that speech:
The Bush administration is trying to roll back a Supreme Court decision by pushing legislation that would require prison time for nearly all criminals.

The Justice Department is offering the plan as an opening salvo in a larger debate about whether sentences for crack cocaine are unfairly harsh and racially discriminatory.

Republicans are seizing the administration's crackdown, packaged in legislation to combat violent crime, as a campaign issue for 2008.
Recall that the President, in justifying commuting Libby's prison sentence for being found guilty of 5 counts of obstruction of justice and perjury, asserted that the sentence was too harsh. That sentence fit the guidelines which Alberto Gonzales thinks should no longer be advisory, but mandatory. So the Bush administration thinks the federal sentencing guidelines are too harsh when it comes to an administration figure, but should be strengthened for the rest of us.

Also recall that the President did not confer with the Justice Department, the prosecutor or the judge regarding his decision to commute Libby's jail time. The guidelines by which commutations and pardons are normally considered were not a part of the Libby case. The President consulted only a small cadre of advisers, but those consultations occurred over the course of several weeks.

It is abundantly clear that the President tried to keep the judicial process in play in order to be able to use the old standby that to comment on the Plame affair is not appropriate because there is an ongoing legal proceeding. Libby had to be kept from serving time lest he actually start talking. The President thus had to justify not pardoning Libby ("respect the jury" yada yada yada) but keep Libby out of jail ("sentence was too excessive"). In trying to walk that impossible line Bush has made a mockery of the very sentencing guidelines which his party wanted to strengthen in a craven appeal for votes.

If I were serving time in federal prison for obstruction of justice or perjury, I would be just a little bit peeved now. If I were in the administration however, I would feel entirely comfortable in not being entirely candid with investigators should I be called to testify.

Given the Republican zeal for mandatory minimums and locking people for every offense under the sun, you'd think that Libby would be in jail until he molders--were it not for the fact that he's "one of us". Think that's implicit in all of Gonzo's arguments.
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