Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.
Did so even before the appeals process was complete. Did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice. Did so despite what James Madison – at the Constitutional Convention – said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes “advised by” that president.
Did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder: To what degree was Mr. Libby told, “Break the law however you wish – the president will keep you out of prison”?
Frankly, I’d be happy if Gonzales resigned. Let alone President Bush. But it is about time people started calling this exactly what it is. This administration has invoked Omerta with the specific intent to prevent justice from being served. They are doing everything they can to make sure that Mr. Libby will never see the inside of a jail cell and will never be pressured into talking to the prosecution.
But to truly understand the damage he is doing to our system of justice, you have to look at the legal debate.
“The Bush administration, in some sense following the leads of three previous administrations, has repeatedly supported a federal sentencing system that is distinctly disrespectful of the very arguments that Bush has put forward in cutting Libby a break,” said Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University who writes the blog Sentencing Law and Policy.
Once again this administration has traded precedence for expedience. Policy for politics. Good faith for sort term gain.