This whole episode has been wrong. The Democrats and their screaming left wing began with the demand that someone--ANYONE--be punished for the crimes they believed took place in the Bush administration. They really wanted Rove's, or perhaps Cheney's head on their pike, and had to settle for Libby. So they invented the crime of "outing" a CIA officer (who never was covered by the law preventing such), then "lying" about the "outing". The Special Prosecutor knew early on that it was Richard Armitage who had spoken with Novak, but Fitzgerald continued with his investigation anyway searching for a neo-con to convict on something (Armitage is not a "neo-con", but rather a Powell protogee).
However, if I may, I think this commutation is right on a number of levels...
- As to whether this was the right thing to do: I think it was. I've said in the past that I think Libby was over-charged. He was essentially convicted of having a faulty memory on evidence provided by others who also had faulty memories. There was no underlying crime charged, and on this point, I noted the strange company I keep here. I long ago said that Martha Stewart should have never gone to prison. If a prosecutor (Special or not) can't charge or gain a conviction on a underlying crime, then lying about that crime shouldn't be chargable.
- Libby was also over-sentenced. From my distance, the judge appeared to throw the book at Libby because he didn't express any contrition at all.
- Allowing Libby to stay out of prison while his appeal progressed also seemed like a reasonable request. He wasn't going anywhere. Why throw him in the slammer?
- The commutation removes the most excessive part of Libby's sentence. It also allows his appeal to progress, and with some luck and good lawyering, Libby may find this whole thing erased completely. Of course, that won't get him back the money he's spent on his legal defense, or the job he has lost, but it will get him back his good name (as opposed to this guy--who apparently has given up on any defense of his "good name").
I think a pardon, at this point, would be too much special treatment for Libby. Allow the legal system to find justice, and if it still has him convicted, then Bush ought to consider a pardon.