July 2nd, 2007
06:57 PM ET
12 years ago

Libby commutation: Washington responds

Washington was quick to react to the Libby commutation Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Following are reactions to President Bush's announcement Monday that he has commuted the sentence of former vice presidential chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby:

Melanie Sloan, legal counsel to Joe and Valerie Wilson
"First, President Bush said any person who leaked would no longer work in his administration. Nonetheless, Scooter Libby didn't leave office until he was indicted and Karl Rove works in the White House even today. More recently, the vice president ignored an executive order protecting classified information, claiming he isn't really part of the executive branch. Clearly, this is anadministration that believes leaking classified information for political ends is justified and that the law is what applies to other people."

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and presidential candidate
"This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law. This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people's faith in a government that puts the country's progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York
"As Independence Day nears, we are reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada
"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 ofnational 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."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California
"The President's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence does not serve justice, condones criminal conduct, and is a betrayal of trust of the American people. The President said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the President shows his word is not to be believed. He has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law, and he has failed to hold his Administration accountable."

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, presidential candidate
"Last week Vice President Cheney asserted that he was beyond the reach of the law. Today, President Bush demonstrated the lengths he would go to, ensuring that even aides to Dick Cheney are beyond the judgment of the law. It is time for the American people to be heard - I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law."

Former Sen. John Edwards, presidential candidate
"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world. In George Bush's America, it is apparently okay to misuse intelligence for political gain, mislead prosecutors and lie to the FBI. George Bush and his cronies think they are above the law and the rest of us live with the consequences. The cause of equal justice in America took a serious blow today."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, presidential candidate
"It's a sad day when the President commutes the sentence of a public official who deliberately and blatantly betrayed the public trust and obstructed an important federal investigation," said Governor Richardson. "This administration clearly believes its officials are above the law, from ignoring FISA laws when eavesdropping on US citizens, to the abuse of classified material, to ignoring the Geneva Conventions and international law with secret prisons and torturing prisoners.

There is a reason we have laws and why we expect our Presidents to obey them. Institutions have a collective wisdom greater than that of any one individual. The arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking.

Will the President also commute the sentences of others who obstructed justice and lied to grand juries, or only those who act to protect President Bush and Vice President Cheney?"

Former GOP Sen. Fred Thompson, likely presidential candidate
I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the President's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, presidential candidate
“Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration's politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.”

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, presidential candidate
"After evaluating the facts, the President came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct."

Filed under: Scooter Libby
soundoff (1,240 Responses)
  1. Adam Michael

    The deicision by President Bush to commute this sentence is the epitome of the Bush-Chenney legacy. This decision has shown that this adminstration os not ready to put America people first but rather than Bushes cronies. This decision has derail the war on terror gbolablly.

    July 3, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  2. Tom Phoenix, AZ

    I am deeply disturbed by the decision of President Bush to pardon "Scooter" Libby. In my mind, Libby was accused of a crime, had a fair trial, was convicted of that crime and was sentenced, all under our American system of justice. The decision by Bush reinforces the impression that I now belive a majority of the American public has..that his administration thinks it is "above the law". As I heard someone else say, even Paris Hilton served her time.. why doesn't "Scooter" Libby have to?
    Again, it is as if for this administration and its friends, the American system of justice no longer applies.
    And that is a very sad and serious state of affairs.

    July 3, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  3. Alex Holsenbeck, Kansas City, MO

    61 Commutations by Bill Clinton and only 4 by Bush. All 65 were bad in my book. The only thing is Hillary should be the one looking the worst based on her comments.

    July 3, 2007 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  4. Nashvillemykl, Nashville, TN

    Such perfect timing! Just in time for Independence Day there's another great big F*#@% Y&* to the country from its beloved president.

    July 3, 2007 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  5. John Noles, Cary, NC

    It never entered my mind that Mr. Libby would serve a day in prison. I am sure he knows where many of the bodies are buried. He knew all along that he could lie and not have to pay the price as does Mr Cheney, Mr. Rove, Ms. Rice, et al. If I could make one change in the Constitution, it would be to take the power to pardon away from the President. Casper Wineberger didn't even have to stand trial. Bush II learned well from his father.

    July 3, 2007 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  6. T. Willis San Antonio, TX

    They call themselves "Patriots" and all that disagree with them are "Un-American".

    They did all they could to avoid military service and have sent others off to die in a fruitless war.

    They worked to disclose the identity of a covert CIA agent as retaliation for questioning their stories that lead us to that war.

    While he was not the "leaker", he lied to a Grand Jury investigating the leak.

    He had no incentive to be truthful because he knew he would not be punished. Though it has not happened yet, believe me when I say that a pardon is coming, as well.

    I once read that "A people get the government they deserve". Perhaps we deserve this. We have put our government on auto-pilot. We could not be bothered to know the details. Too busy running our errands and just wanting it "taken care of". Too quick to accept a sound bite instead of wanting to know the details.

    I have followed politics for 30 years and this is the most sickening administration I have ever witnessed.

    July 3, 2007 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  7. CS, Illinois

    What a joke. Just one more slap in the face to the American public. And to think, I served my country for 13 years for this! Disgusting!!

    July 3, 2007 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  8. Doug, Independence Missouri

    How does one teach political science to our youth today?

    Does one say, "Well, the vice president really isn't subject to oversight because technically the vice president isn't part of the executive branch."

    Or does one say, "Well, justice is supposed to be blind and impartial... except when the executive branch decides its own verdict."

    Do we need to wonder why America's standing in the rest of the world continues to fall when we won't even uphold our own judicial verdicts? We need to battle terrorism with more than just military might. We need to battle terrorism with principles that lead by example, not justify by excuse.

    July 3, 2007 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  9. J.T. McElvany, Riverside, CA

    During the recent National Spelling Bee, the word "kakistocracy" was used. Now I truly know the definition: The Bush Administration.

    July 3, 2007 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  10. Will W, Loveland CO

    I understand that the president has some constitutional abilities to issue pardons. But, to change a sentence ? Is that really in his realm of power ? Isn't that the point of the Checks and Balances system we have in place; to make sure no 1 branch of the government has absolute power. But, if GWB can override and change a sentence – issued by a Federal Court, and not issue a pardon, what other constitutional abilities will he extend himself ? This man (Bush), and his vice president should be impeached AND sent to prison. Libby should be in the cell next to them. And Naccio from Qwest in the next cell over.

    July 3, 2007 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  11. Bagman

    Where was all the Democrat indignation when Clinton perjured himself, and then sold pardons for money? When Berger got off with a slap on the wrist?

    Democrat hypocrisy.

    July 3, 2007 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  12. Fletcher, Seattle, WA

    This is a sad day for America. George W Bush will be remembered among our worst Presidents. The message he sends today is that national security is unimportant when weighed against the need to exact political revenge.

    I truly believe that Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and Richard Amitage committed treason when they burned a covert CIA operative in order to exact political revenge against her husband.

    I can only hope that this gives the Democrats in Congress the impetus to take on this administration. If Bush can exercise his constitutional powers in so capricious a manner then Congress should not fear to use their powers. Take off the kid gloves.

    July 3, 2007 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  13. me - detroit Michigan

    Libby is a great person, and as the decision of the Leader of the Free World committed to today – I and most of America believes that Libby deserves his freedom. In fact, the chances are very good that Libby will be the next president.


    July 3, 2007 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  14. Tom Mauk, San Antonio, Texas

    I believe this decision also cements the legacy of this corrupt president. As what I see a crook commuted a sentence of another crook that is all that has happened here. I will be glad when these 2 jerks leave office it is not funny. They both are a joke to me and the American public.

    July 3, 2007 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  15. Erik Stenbakken, Greeley, CO

    Sad, sad, sad. This is EXACTLY the thing that drives cynicism up and tears any remaining bit of faith in government down. Every day it's more like a monarchy than a Republic. Hello? Isn't the White House still part of the United States? Laws apply there too. [apparently they do not]

    This act will energize those of us on the margins and will tip fence sitters… and it's not going to be support for the Republican party.

    July 3, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  16. Gary, Houston, TX

    Yet another example that the Bush administration cares nothing about the truth or justice.

    This administration has already solidified it's place in history as "the most incompetent"... this latest act will also add to their resume as "the most corrupt"

    I'm quite sure Libby told Bush and Cheney 'if i step one foot into a prison cell, i'm going to rat you both out' on countless crimes.

    July 3, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  17. Niamh Bailes, Cullman, Alabama

    Unbelievable! Isn't it time for Bush to go? I hope people won't sit back and think, hey he's only President for another year and a half, we can wait it out. He has to be impeached now before he does any more damage. This should be the last straw for the American people. Time to take a stand.

    July 3, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  18. Deborah C. Wakefield

    Bush and all of his cronies are disgusting and beneath contempt. If this action doesn't spur a grassroots demand for the impeachment of the criminals running this administration, I can't imagine what would. While Bush is fishing and eating lobster, our young men and women are dying in Iraq in 140 degree heat away from their families and loved ones. Congress must show the American people they will act now–Bush and Cheney must go now!!!!! (otherwise, the entire bunch should be voted out of office).

    July 3, 2007 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  19. Robert Green, Dalworthington Gardens, Texas

    When I heard the news I wasn't surprised in the least. This country has always and continues to be run by its richest citizens who care not about justice, equality or anything else that matters to us little guys they allegedly represent. Regardless of who they are, Clinton, Guiliani, Thompson, Edwards, etc., they will continue to feed us rhetoric in the hopes that we will hitch our wagons to their political caravan only to be again dissapointed when go time arrives.
    All of these people are frauds and we will only get what "we the people" want when we develop the fortitude to elect one of our own. Right now we are getting exactly what we deserve.

    July 3, 2007 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  20. Jennifer Winchester, Olathe, Kansas

    Oh, come on people! Who is REALLY surprised by this? It has been obvious for years and years that George does exactly what Dick tells him to do. This is just another example. Scooter was most likely promised this outcome when he was fingered to take fall for a scheme cooked up by Dick and Carl. Anyone who ever thought that Mr. Libby was destined to actually servce a prison sentence hasn't been paying attention to this administration for quite some time. After all, what's a little sentence commutation in the face of all the other slimy, illegal, dispicable, and completely untrustworthy things we've seen and heard from this administration during the past seven years? When we finally get an opportunity to read the papers and examine the document from this White House, history will prove that this commutation is NOTHING when compared to the rest of the underhanded crap that's been going on.

    July 3, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  21. Mad as hell Hank

    How long will the American people tolerate arrogance such as this, I'm supposing whatever is done by Bush and his private mafia (including his politcal puppet actor "Fred Thompson"), will surely turn into the next Sopranos episode.

    History will force George W. Bush to someday see the error of his ways, similar to that of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Here will all sit being told by all branches of govenrment to be law abiding citizens, meanwhile the boys at the whitehouse continue with their dirty game of poltical poker. Bush never intended to do anything else but somehow trash the Scooter Libby sentence when the time was right.

    The American will wake up someday and only then will Bush pay the price for ignoring serious issues such as the reconciliation of survivors of the Katrina disaster. God forbide a crisis such katrina should set upon our entire nation once again, I'm sure Bush will be in his private bunker taking it all in while watching CNN.

    Wake Up!!!

    July 3, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  22. Ann in Truckee

    This is OUTRAGEOUS. We do not live in a nation of laws ... we live in a monarchy. What do we have to do to STOP this breach of justice. I, for one, am ready to take to the streets. Do they think we will stand for anything they want to do to us. The Democratic candidates would be wise to make a stand with this OUTRAGE and DO SOMETHING. OUTRAGEOUS>>> OUTRAGEOUS>>> OUTRAGEOUS>>> I AM OUTRAGED.

    July 3, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  23. Chuck Henry, Walnut Creek CA

    The stink of hypocrisy surrounding the Libby commutation is amazing. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying to a grand jury; I guess if you're a Republican operative, the same principles don't apply. As to the underlying issue, the exposure of a CIA agent's identity for purposes of political retribution, if a Democratic administration had done such a thing, the Republicans would be howling for impeachments and prosecution for treason. The Bush administration is utterly corrupt, hypocritical, and beyond redemption.

    July 3, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  24. Nancy V, Arlington Heights, IL

    I am sick and tired of people who say that both Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault about everything.
    This president, this vice president, this entire administration are beyond any decency whatsoever. They set themselves apart and make their own laws. they scorn our Constitutiion. Shame, shame, shame.

    July 3, 2007 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  25. Jose Santiago, Dallas, Texas

    Outrageous, but to be expected: Libby just knows too damn much. This is just evidence of how much is yet to be uncovered.

    July 3, 2007 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
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