WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case Monday, stepping into a criminal case with heavy political overtones on grounds that the sentence was just too harsh.
Bush’s move came hours after a federal appeals panel ruled Libby could not delay his prison term in the CIA leak case. That meant Libby was likely to have to report to prison soon and put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby’s allies to pardon the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
“I respect the jury’s verdict,” Bush said in a statement. “But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.”
This was not unexpected. See previous post.
There are those who will argue that this is not a pardon. They will say that Mr. Bush only removed the prison time that Mr. Libby was to have served. Technically, they are correct. For all practical purposes, however, this is a pardon. Mr. Libby will not suffer for the crimes he committed. He has enough friends in high places that will see to that.