Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Senate Democrats React To Libby Fiasco

Here's some reaction from Senate Democrats to George W. Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Harry Reid (D-NV)

“The President's decision to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence is disgraceful. Libby’s conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone. Judge Walton correctly determined that Libby deserved to be imprisoned for lying about a matter of national security. The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice President’s Chief of Staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law.”

John Kerry (D-MA)

“President Bush's eleventh hour commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence makes a mockery of the justice system and betrays the idea that all Americans are expected to be held accountable for their actions, even close friends of Vice President Cheney. It's a tragedy that with young Americans paying the ultimate price in Iraq for this administration's mistakes, this White House continues to avoid accountability and reward deceit for their friends and supporters.”

Tom Harkin (D-IA)

“We have known for a long time that this Administration has contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law, but today’s action by the President to intervene to save a high-ranking member of his Administration – who was found by a jury to have broken the law and obstructed justice, on behalf of the Vice President – is a new low. It shows that this President believes there is one set of rules for his friends, and another set for everyone else.

“The actions of Scooter Libby that led to this conviction were undertaken to attack critics who dared to speak the truth about the Administration’s lies to build the case for the war in Iraq. With his decision today, the President has shown that he stands squarely behind those actions. The American people believe that government officials should be held to a higher standard. President Bush believes that his cronies should be held to no standard at all.”

Ben Cardin (D-MD)

“We are a nation of laws and a jury of his peers convicted Mr. Libby of the serious charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I am shocked and greatly disappointed that President Bush has decided to commute the sentence of former Chief of Staff to the Vice President. President Bush repeatedly said that he would punish those who leaked classified information or who did not fully cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name as an undercover CIA agent. The Justice Department appointed a Special Counsel to independently prosecute this case because it involved such a high-ranking executive branch official.

“Today President Bush has given special treatment to one of the Vice President’s top political and legal advisors. At the very minimum the President should have followed his own promise not to intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals were exhausted. The President has set a dangerous double standard that sends the message that high-ranking political appointees in the Bush Administration are above the law.”

Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

“The President’s muted words and deeds in the aftermath of this conviction pale in comparison to what he said before the investigation was launched.

"The President has the constitutional power to do this. But accountability has been in short supply in the Bush Administration, and this commutation fits that pattern. It is emblematic of a White House that sees itself as being above the law."

Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

"President Bush's decision is doubly concerning. It disregards the need for justice to be served in the case of a CIA operative being outed. More broadly, the White House has, in essence, reaffirmed its decision to use faulty information to go to war in Iraq, which is at the heart of this case and is the bigger story at play here. One would have to wonder if Lewis Libby didn't know all along that he was going to get a pardon or have his sentence commuted."

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

"President Bush's decision to commute Scooter Libby's prison sentence is shocking and highly inappropriate. From a secret program that eavesdropped on Americans without a warrant to efforts to expose a CIA agent as part of a campaign of political retaliation, at every turn this administration has shown a level of contempt for our system of justice that is Nixonian in its scope and impact. At a time when the Bush administration's commitment to justice is in serious doubt, for the President to choose to overrule the decision of a judge in a court of law to protect a political ally is a telling statement that he and his advisors simply believe themselves to be above the law."

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Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats, issued the following statement:

“A jury of his peers found Libby guilty of lying about his role in revealing the identity of a covert C.I.A. operative. It is unfortunate that President Bush in commuting his sentence has once again put political considerations above the interests of our judicial system."