“Neither Prison Nor Pardon”

So argues William Otis in the Washington Post: “Scooter Libby should not be pardoned. But his punishment—30 months in prison, two years’ probation and a $250,000 fine—is excessive. President Bush should commute the sentence by eliminating the jail term while preserving the fine.”

Five more paragraphs follow in the same vein: “Neither vindication of the rule of law nor any other aspect of the public interest requires that Libby go to prison. He is by no stretch a danger to the community, as ‘danger’ is commonly understood. He did not commit his crime out of greed or personal malice. Nor is his life one that bespeaks a criminal turn of mind. … A sense of proportionality argues in favor of eliminating Libby’s prison term. … [T]o leave the sentence undisturbed would be an injustice to a person who, though guilty in this instance, is not what most people would, or should, think of as a criminal.”

Et cetera. By the end of the piece, I was embarrassed for whomever penned it, in the way one might cringe at a suitor persistently and publicly making ill-suited plays for someone whose disinterest is palpable. Beyond that, it struck me as patently absurd that this rubbish would be worthy of publication in the Washington Post. Just who was this William Otis character, anyway?

The writer, a former federal prosecutor, was a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on the Sentencing Guidelines under administrations of both parties. He was special counsel for President George H.W. Bush.

Och aye. We are in such trouble. I believe I hear Nero tuning his fiddle now…

[Related Reading: Digby.]

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12 Comments

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12 responses to ““Neither Prison Nor Pardon”

  1. Bitty

    He is by no stretch a danger to the community, as ‘danger’ is commonly understood.

    …because too many people fail to see the Bush administration as criminally dangerous.

  2. Bitty

    ‘scuse me. I meant “too few.”

    Sigh.

  3. Melissa McEwan

    Bitty, that was the part that got me, too. The suggestion that someone who aids, abets, or is in any way involved with the outing of a covert operative working on weapons proliferation in the Middle East isn’t a danger to the entire country is laughable! That’s when I was like, “Who wrote this insane drivel?!” It was like I was reading one of the lamest conservative blogs ever, but I was reading the fricking WaPo. Sob.

  4. He is by no stretch a danger to the community, as ‘danger’ is commonly understood. He did not commit his crime out of greed or personal malice. Nor is his life one that bespeaks a criminal turn of mind.

    There’s a tendency to dismiss the crimes of people who wear nice suits and have prominent careers in government service. Really, these people are more dangerous than your average miscreant. Their power gives them more potential to do harm when they do violate the law.

  5. He is by no stretch a danger to the community, as ‘danger’ is commonly understood.

    He lied to those investigating the outing of a COVERT CIA AGENT!

    At the very least, he endandered the lives of that agent and those she was working with. For all we know, people could have lost their lives due to the crime of exposing her identity.

    We’ll never know because that information is classified.

    Plame may eventually get clearance to write about what she did for our government. But, you can be certain she wasn’t just typing reports and filing documents. She was a high-ranking CIA agent, running a covert operation for severa years.

    Libby is a traitor. He should get 30 years.

  6. Hmmm. I always thought Otis was the drunk on The Andy Griffith Show….

  7. Nik E Poo

    Their power gives them more potential to do harm when they do violate the law.

    A distinction, not lost on the Chinese government:

    [December 15, 2006]
    “A Chinese high court allowed the death penalty to stand for an accountant [Liu Yibing] who was involved in defrauding bank customers out of hundreds of millions of dollars, reported the Associated Press.”

    [February 12, 2004]
    “China executed a former provincial vice-governor [Wang Huaizhong] Thursday, after he was convicted of taking bribes that amounted to the equivalent of nearly $800,000.”

    [December 30, 2003]
    “The Chinese official news agency, Xinhua, said [Li Yaoqi] the former chairman of Hainan International Investment Group, was executed in southern China after being found guilty of amassing a fortune while his state-owned investment company went bankrupt.”

    [May 30, 2001]
    “China executed a Taiwanese businessman [Cao Yufei] for his role in a big investment scam, state television reported.”

    … then again … maybe they’re getting soft:

    [May 29, 2007]
    “China is promising it won’t execute suspects repatriated from developed nations with death penalty bans … state media said. There are about 800 Chinese suspects wanted for economic crimes who are at large abroad …”

  8. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Does anyone think Scooter’s gonna lose any money on this? I figure one or more wingnut sugar daddies will pick up his tab to reward his loyalty to Bu$hco. 😦

  9. a person who, though guilty in this instance, is not what most people would, or should, think of as a criminal.

    Can I just let loose the cynical thought that the author probably wouldn’t be saying this if Libby were black and going to jail for recreational use of marijuana? I mean, it really sounds like, “He’s white and wears a tie! How is it fair to make him go to jail?”

  10. That is pretty much the argument, Fr. Chris. Coming from someone who had a large part in creating the minimum mandatory sentencing regime that has so many brown people locked away for such long times, this is especially odious.

  11. I just wrote a post about this. If anything, when a pillar of society and all around beacon of integrity (*snort) like Scooter does something illegal, I think they should get an even more severe sentence than some schmoe who messes up in a similar (albeit smaller) way.

    He committed a crime not just against Valerie Plame, not just against the people she had in her non-proliferation network, but against the whole freaking country. That’s some serious shit. 30 months isn’t long enough, and the sick thing is that there are worse people involved who are getting away scott free.

  12. He didn’t act out of “greed or personal malice”. True. Destroying lives and betraying your country are just a day at work to loyal Bushies.

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