Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Excerpt from Truthout

Despite these serious crimes, Libby will spend less time in prison than Paris Hilton, Martha Stewart and Susan MacDougal. The same Republicans who championed the impeachment of Bill Clinton now celebrate Libby's liberation from the consequences of the very same acts they accused Clinton of committing.

Beyond Bush's two-faced blather about potential pardons are details and possibilities of vast complexity.

By commuting the prison sentence, Bush left Libby's 5th Amendment rights intact. Thus, any Congressional committee or prosecutor wishing to call him to testify will have to immunize him from any potential legal repercussions arising from his testimony. If Bush chooses to fully pardon Libby, those 5th Amendment protections will go right out the window.

Libby has repeatedly stated his intention to go on with the appeals process so he can clear his name. If he does this and an appeal is granted, Patrick Fitzgerald will suddenly be back in business, because a granted appeal opens the way for a whole new trial. Libby, if granted this appeal, may well be tried and convicted all over again.

Appeals are commonly granted only if a mistake was made during the initial trial, a difficult standard to meet, which is why most appeals are not granted. Should Libby's team decide to base their appeal on the spurious claim that Patrick Fitzgerald was not properly authorized to prosecute the case to begin with, however, the playing field would be changed dramatically because Fitzgerald would no longer be in a position to retry the case. If the appeals court grants an appeal based on this argument, one would be forced to wonder if that court acted in collusion with the administration.

Hovering above all this is one all-encompassing question: did George W. Bush commit a dead-bang impeachable offense by commuting Libby's sentence?

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