Clearly the following (excerpted) story from Newsweek doesn't tell the full tale of how and why President Bush came to decide to commute the 30 month jail sentence for convicted perjurist, and former chief of staff for the Vice President, 'Scooter' Libby, but it must come close.
There's a fleet of stories, and no doubt more a few pieces of disinformation, bouncing up against each other over this appalling breach by Bush of the trust he should hold with the American people to abide by, and recognise, the laws and sentences handed down by the nation's courts. He usually does. He pardoned all but a handful of Americans facing the death sentence when he was governor of Texas, and he has been positively frugal in commuting the sentences of other criminals during his time as president.
But Libby, of course was an insider, part of the American elite, a committed NeoCon from the late 1990s Project For The New American Century thinktank, and an alleged Mossad agent.
Libby was also part of the gang that harassed CIA desk jockeys when they could find no proof that Saddam Hussein had a viable weapons of mass destruction program back in 2002, and forced them to come up with something, anything, when there was clearly nothing to be found.
Libby had to be spared. If only for his work on making the War On Iraq into a reality.
The members of the king's court do not go to jail like the common folk. No doubt the fact that Libby might have decided to start singing after a few weeks in jail, to get a shorter sentence, about what Cheney instructed him to do when it came to the leaking of the name of a covert CIA agent, must have factored heavily into the decision-making process of Bush's brain. Or the shared Bush-Cheney-Rove brain.
From Newsweek :
As is often the case in the Bush White House, it was a decision made swiftly, and with stealth.Bush didn't have a choice? So who is the real Decider In Chief then?
For weeks, allies of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby had aggressively lobbied the president to pardon Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Libby's powerful supporters—including major GOP fund-raisers like Florida developer Melvin Sembler, the chairman of his legal-defense trust—argued that Libby's conviction in March in the CIA leak case was a miscarriage of justice. Libby's allies pressed their argument with White House aides but got nowhere. George W. Bush's senior staff was under strict instructions: listen politely, but give away nothing about what the president might ultimately do.
Behind the scenes, Bush was intensely focused on the matter, say two White House advisers who were briefed on the deliberations, but who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters.
Bush asked Fred Fielding, his discreet White House counsel, to collect information on the case.
Fielding, anticipating the Libby issue would be on his plate, had been gathering material for some time, including key trial transcripts.
Uncharacteristically, Bush himself delved into the details. He was especially keen to know if there was compelling evidence that might contradict the jury's verdict that Libby had lied to a federal grand jury about when—and from whom—he learned the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, wife of Iraq War critic Joe Wilson.
But Fielding...reluctantly concluded that the jury had reached a reasonable verdict: the evidence was strong that Libby testified falsely about his role in the leak.
The president was conflicted. He hated the idea that a loyal aide would serve time. Hanging over his deliberations was Cheney, who had said he was "very disappointed" with the jury's verdict.
Cheney did not directly weigh in with Fielding, but nobody involved had any doubt where he stood.
"I'm not sure Bush had a choice," says one of the advisers. "If he didn't act, it would have caused a fracture with the vice president."
Cheney, of course. Bush is allowed to think he s making the decisions for himself, but Cheney and Rove manipulate him, with rare skill. When Bush gets suspicious, or reads for himself that Cheney and Rove are pulling his strings, such suspicions can be written off as nasty disinformation tactics by the Democrats.
But did Bush have a much more sly, Karl Rove-conspired, reason for commuting Libby's jail time, but keeping the conviction?
In part, Bush may have stopped short of a full pardon precisely to keep Libby and other White House aides away from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Investigators in Congress are eager to call Libby to testify about the Plame case and prewar Iraq intel—an invitation Libby can continue to resist by claiming he can't talk as long as his appeal remains alive in the courts.They sure have.
The White House has used the same line to shield itself from questions about the case.
No doubt Libby's appeals will not be completed, or resolved, after well after President Bush leaves office in January, 2009.
And then, well, the Democrats will be in charge of the White House, and nobody is likely to care all too much about 'Scooter' Libby, or Karl Rove, or President Bush, by then.