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July 8, 2007

The inside backstory on the Libby commutation

Michael Isikoff has this fascinating piece in the July 16, 2007 issue of Newsweek entitled "Friends in High Places: Inside Bush's decision to give Scooter Libby a pass."  Here is an excerpt:

Behind the scenes, Bush was intensely focused on the matter, say two White House advisers who were briefed on the deliberations, but who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters.  Bush asked Fred Fielding, his discreet White House counsel, to collect information on the case.  Fielding, anticipating the Libby issue would be on his plate, had been gathering material for some time, including key trial transcripts.  Uncharacteristically, Bush himself delved into the details.  He was especially keen to know if there was compelling evidence that might contradict the jury's verdict that Libby had lied to a federal grand jury about when — and from whom — he learned the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, wife of Iraq War critic Joe Wilson.  But Fielding, one of the advisers tells NEWSWEEK, reluctantly concluded that the jury had reached a reasonable verdict: the evidence was strong that Libby testified falsely about his role in the leak.

The president was conflicted.  He hated the idea that a loyal aide would serve time. Hanging over his deliberations was Cheney, who had said he was "very disappointed" with the jury's verdict.  Cheney did not directly weigh in with Fielding, but nobody involved had any doubt where he stood.  "I'm not sure Bush had a choice," says one of the advisers. "If he didn't act, it would have caused a fracture with the vice president."

July 8, 2007 at 11:54 PM | Permalink


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No. We know what happened.

Scooter said "Hey George, If I spend even 1 day in jail, I open my mouth."

That, and ONLY THAT, is the reason one crook let another crook out of jail.

Posted by: BabbuLu | Jul 9, 2007 10:17:40 AM

bingo. If George Ryan could have kept himself out of jail by commuting a sencence, I bet he would have done it too. But Ryan couldn't count on his stooges in the Supreme Court to back him up.

We all know what Libby has on Bush. I wonder what Bush has on Alito to keep him in line?

Posted by: tekel | Jul 9, 2007 12:22:24 PM

Wow, paranoid cynacism at its best.

(*** awaits response something along the lines of "Wow, naivety at its best" ***)

Posted by: SPD | Jul 9, 2007 1:22:59 PM

For weeks, no one was talking about a commutation. Now that it has landed, everyone is an expert on the "real" reasons why it has landed. That is amusing. Where were all of these people before the commutation? Why weren't they correcting everyone who used the word "pardon," by saying "no, no, that will never happen because Bush has something to hide. He will grant a commutation."

That tells me now matter what action was taken by the president, some conspiratorial motice would have been developed. Tying it to the technicalities of a commutation is flimsy window dressing.

Isikoff, by the way, was one of those who was constantly focusing on a pardon. Why, he was even hung up on guidelines for clemency applicants in the Department of Justice - none of which apply to the president. Thus, I found the Newsweek piece largely uninformative and uninteresting. The single substantive item that comes out of it is that Fred Fielding's opinion may have mattered. That isn't much for a reporter of Isikoff's stature.

Posted by: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. | Jul 9, 2007 1:40:51 PM

Remember kiddies, "The nature of the evidence is irrelevant; it's the seriousness of the charge that matters."

Posted by: Ben D | Jul 9, 2007 1:49:01 PM

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