Royally Kranked

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Unearned Arrogance, Pure Corruption, Spectacular Incompetence

All three descriptions are on full display with two full blown scandals, the purge and attempted coverup of the fired US Attorneys, and the "Commutation" AKA "Free Walk" W gave Scooter Libby for his role in outing Valerie Plame

Let's lead with the Spectacular Incompetence W showed in pardoning Libby, namely, he gets one free shot, but this article points something out that, if it plays out like I describe, Libby could still end up doing time

bypass registration with this Bug Me Not link

Bush Is Said to Have Held Long Debate on Decision

In issuing his commutation order on Monday, Mr. Bush left intact Mr. Libby’s conviction, a $250,000 fine and the two years of postprison supervised release that were ordered by Judge Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court.

But the details of the president’s order raised procedural questions in court.

Here's the kicker, the last sentence especially

Judge Walton said Tuesday that the law did not allow for imposing a period of supervised release on an individual who had not first completed a jail sentence. He asked the lawyers for both sides to submit briefs next week on whether Mr. Libby should have to submit to supervision by the probation office.

I have no doubt that Libby will be submitting to a probation office, Walton and the judges who were lowering the legal boom on Libby don't seem particularly sympathetic to Libby's claims in the least, so since W didn't grant a full pardon-which causes as many problems as it solves-what are the odds that W would step in again, this time trying to claim that submitting to probation is somehow too harsh a punishment for his felony convictions?

The reason probation is important here, is that these judges would hopefully-if it's within their official capacity-assign the most hardass probation officer to Libby there is, the type who's just looking to boost a professional reputation by having Libby under their direct, merciless control

The type who'd be looking to bust Libby to prison at the first sign some required condition of his probation wasn't met, or was violated

W may have been able to flip off the US public regarding letting Libby walk from serving any prison time once, but to do so with Libby if he violates his parole would be too much for even the GOP to take a second time, what with the absolute anger & vitriol this commutation has aroused in the public, the voters & defendants who would never qualify for the same off-key caterwauling about the injustice of it all from the elitist Libby supporters

There's even anger on hard-right media sites, ire about the hypocrisy this commutation sends to all those who fulminated about Clinton's lying to a Grand Jury

W's "commutation" of Libby's prison time is a one-shot deal, so if Libby gets an ultra-hard assed probation officer who busts his ass to prison for a violation, don't look for another free pass from W, not enough political capital for a repeat performance of "free poor, picked-upon Lewis Libby"

I just want to smack the mealy mouths of those so disgustingly backing this traitor, and the traitors infesting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Of course, the Dems DO have a huge weapon they can play, but that's only if they care more about doing what's right as opposed to quivering in fear from being yelled at by W, Cheney, Rove, or any of their lunatic neocon enablers and GOP Media Whores

Let's see the Dems call Libby to testify about Cheney's role in Plame's outing

I'd like to see W try to apply "executive privilege" in covering a convicted felon, but if he does, then it's time to zero-out ALL funding for the Executive Branch-Not the agencies, bureaus or departments, just those Presidential and Vice Presidential staff working out of the White House

And to cut off a major loophole, make sure that private donations can't be used to meet those payrolls, if paychecks are issued, let them come out of W's & Cheney's pockets and wallets

While the chief counterargument would be that banning such private donations might be a free-speech violation, since there's nothing in the Constitution addressing such an issue-that I'm aware of, apologies if wrong-and since Congress hasn't spelled out how to address such an issue, this current Supreme Court is of the opinion that for something to be valid, every single "i" must be dotted and "t" crossed

That's exactly why the Court ruled against low-paid health care workers recently, because Congress didn't address those concerns concretely, concerns which the court held allowed those workers to be treated as they were. If the Administration were to actually try and use such private donations, without that ability being spelled out anywhere, this Court would smack them down

This commutation shows that treachery against our Constitution and our intelligence analysts/covert operatives has a thriving community at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and that actually protecting the US public against another terrorist attack on US soil does not factor one bit into the President's or Vice President's decision making, not in the least

But hey, who knows, maybe "commuting" Traitor Libby's sentence will get that US attorney's firing fiasco to go away, or the situation in Iraq to suddenly become much more positive, or get the public to rally around warrantless spying on domestic communications

Let's see if W "has the stomach" to hold a press conference to address why he let Libby off the hook for helping to destroy a career and a vital network of overseas informants and double agents designed to prevent WsMD from falling into the wrong hands

Once again, when W needs to show REAL spine, he instead crumbles completely and decides that "personal accountability" has NO place in his Administration

But Libby better keep his act VERY clean, as getting busted for violating probation wouldn't result in the same Presidential Free Walk this time like it did after the three judge panel ruled there was no reason for Libby to be free during his appeal

Oh, but there's more in terms of spectacular incompetence with both this case and the fired US Attorneys purge and attempted cover-up, and ironically, they both involve the very same issue, namely, this President & Alberto Gonzalez and the effect their clear incompetence and arrogant selfishness is having on the Dept of Justice, namely, making the job of US Attorneys and Federal Prosecutors that much harder to accomplish successfully now

Turns out that Defense Attorneys are gearing up to use both the US Attorneys purge and W's commutation of Libby for their clients at every possible opportunity now

US Attorneys Fallout Seeps Into the Courts

For months, the Justice Department and Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales have taken political heat for the purge of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

Now the fallout is starting to hit the department in courtrooms around the country.

Defense lawyers in a growing number of cases are raising questions about the motives of government lawyers who have brought charges against their clients. In court papers, they are citing the furor over the U.S. attorney dismissals as evidence that their cases may have been infected by politics.

Justice officials say those concerns are unfounded and constitute desperate measures by desperate defendants. But the affair has given defendants and their lawyers some new energy, which is complicating life for the prosecutors.

This is what happens when bumbling cretins like Gonzales are allowed to continue on in an office he's clearly inadequate to command and administer competently & logically. That Gonzales' ever-shifting story changes with every document and e-mail release is a Godsend to lawyers who have clients with ever-shifting stories as well

This is what happens when W's stubborn incompetence kicks in as well, his ego is stroked at the clear expense of everyone else, in this case the DoJ employees who were doing their jobs the right way, as opposed to those pursuing a purely political Justice Department, especially in the areas of protecting minority & voters rights, concerns the GOP and this Administration obviously aren't worried about enforcing if that willful indifference/deliberate neglect means fewer anti-GOP voters casting their ballots

Missouri lawyers have invoked the controversy in challenging last year's indictment of a company owned by a prominent Democrat, on suspicion of violating federal wage and hour laws. The indictment, which came two months after the owner announced that she was running for political office, was obtained by a Republican U.S. attorney who also has been criticized because he charged workers for a left-leaning political group on the eve of the 2006 midterm election.

The lawyer for an alleged child pornographer recently defended his client at a federal trial in Minnesota in part by questioning the motives of the Republican U.S. attorney, who has come under scrutiny in the congressional investigation into the prosecutor purge.

Lawyers for a former county official in Delaware who has been accused of corruption asked a judge in early May to allow them to subpoena the Justice Department and White House for documents to see whether political motives factored into charges being brought against the official. They cited the brewing controversy inside the Beltway.

"Those revelations dramatically reinforce the reasons to believe that considerations beyond mere law enforcement are behind this prosecution," the lawyers wrote.

The defendant, a once up-and-coming Democrat, was being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney in Wilmington, a Republican appointee.

In an inch-thick response, the U.S. attorney said nothing could be further from the truth, and said the attacks were "sullying the reputations of every prosecutor and law enforcement officer involved in this case," including more than a dozen career prosecutors and agents.

What's "sullying the reputations of every prosecutor and law enforcement officer" is the reality that this Administration and Karl Rove were trying to rig the legal system to give their political ambitions as much help as possible, and even worse, W & Gonzales KNOW their actions are negatively effecting the DoJ staff and demoralizing them more by the day

Democrats say there is evidence that the dismissals were part of a Bush administration effort to affect investigations in public corruption and voting cases that would assist Republicans. The probe has also shown that politics may have played a role in the hiring of some career Justice employees, in possible violation of federal law.

The controversy has drained morale from U.S. attorney offices around the country. And now, legal experts and former Justice Department officials say, it is casting a shadow over the integrity of the department and its corps of career prosecutors in court.

There has long been a presumption that, because they represented the Justice Department, prosecutors had no political agenda and their word could be trusted. But some legal experts say the controversy threatens to undermine their credibility.

"It provides defendants an opportunity to make an argument that would not have been made two years ago," said Daniel French, a former U.S. attorney in Albany, N.Y. "It has a tremendously corrosive effect."

No doubt, having your superiors make your jobs harder to carry out while giving your courtroom opponents even more legal ammunition at the same time is definitely "tremendously corrosive"

And the lawyers for the DoJ just saw their tough job get even harder to carry out with W's commutation

Bush Rationale on Libby Stirs Legal Debate

In commuting I. Lewis Libby Jr.’s 30-month prison sentence on Monday, President Bush drew on the same array of arguments about the federal sentencing system often made by defense lawyers — and routinely and strenuously opposed by his own Justice Department.

Excellent leadership skills on display by W all the way around, Defense Attorneys everywhere are making sure you get a Christmas Card this year, but your DoJ employees, not so much

Critics of the system have a long list of complaints. Sentences, they say, are too harsh. Judges are allowed to take account of facts not proven to the jury. The defendant’s positive contributions are ignored, as is the collateral damage that imprisonment causes the families involved.

On Monday, Mr. Bush made use of every element of that critique in a detailed statement setting out his reasons for commuting Mr. Libby’s sentence — handing an unexpected gift to defense lawyers around the country, who scrambled to make use of the president’s arguments in their own cases.

Given the administration’s tough stand on sentencing, the president’s arguments left experts in sentencing law scratching their heads.

“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.

Yep, the Administration wants even tougher mandatory minimum sentences inflicted on everyone going through the legal system, everyone except those protected by this corrupt and out of control President and lunatic Vice President, although the chances the Dems are going to give W these tougher (for everyone else) laws he so feverishly desires

And that's besides indefinite detention, warrantless spying on purely domestic communications, suspension of Habeas Corpus and torture of uncharged detainees

The hypocrisy in commuting Libby's sentence is breathtaking, vile and appalling

“By saying that the sentence was excessive, I wonder if he understood the ramifications of saying that,” said Ellen S. Podgor, who teaches criminal law at Stetson University in St. Petersburg, Fla. “This is opening up a can of worms about federal sentencing.”

The Libby clemency will be the basis for many legal arguments, said Susan James, an Alabama lawyer representing Don E. Siegelman, the state’s former governor, who is appealing a sentence he received last week of 88 months for obstruction of justice and other offenses.

“It’s far more important than if he’d just pardoned Libby,” Ms. James said, as forgiving a given offense as an act of executive grace would have had only political repercussions. “What you’re going to see is people like me quoting President Bush in every pleading that comes across every federal judge’s desk.”

Indeed, Mr. Bush’s decision may have given birth to a new sort of legal document.

“I anticipate that we’re going to get a new motion called ‘the Libby motion,’ ” Professor Podgor said. “It will basically say, ‘My client should have got what Libby got, and here’s why.’”


Mr. Bush repeated yesterday that he had found Mr. Libby’s punishment to be too severe. But experts in federal sentencing law said a sentence of 30 months for lying and obstruction was consistent with the tough sentences routinely meted out by the federal system.

“On what legal basis could he have reached that result?” asked Frank O. Bowman III, an authority on federal sentencing who teaches law at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said of the commutation. “There is no legal basis.”

Nor is there a reason to think that the Justice Department has changed its position about the sentencing system generally. Indeed, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said last month that the department would push for legislation making federal sentences tougher and less flexible.

Similarly, in a case decided two weeks ago by the United States Supreme Court and widely discussed by legal specialists in light of the Libby case, the Justice Department persuaded the court to affirm the 33-month sentence of a defendant whose case closely resembled that against Mr. Libby. The defendant, Victor A. Rita, was, like Mr. Libby, convicted of perjury, making false statements to federal agents and obstruction of justice.Mr. Rita has performed extensive government service, just as Mr. Libby has. Mr. Rita served in the armed forces for more than 25 years, receiving 35 commendations, awards and medals. Like Mr. Libby, Mr. Rita had no criminal history for purposes of the federal sentencing guidelines.

The judges who sentenced the two men increased their sentences by taking account of the crimes about which they lied. Mr. Rita’s perjury concerned what the court called “a possible violation of a machine-gun registration law”; Mr. Libby’s of a possible violation of a federal law making it a crime to disclose the identities of undercover intelligence agents in some circumstances.

When Mr. Rita argued that his 33-month sentence had failed to consider his history and circumstances adequately, the Justice Department strenuously disagreed.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, posted a copy of the government’s brief in the Rita case on his blog yesterday and asked, “Why is the president flip-flopping on these criminal justice decisions?”

The Justice Department also took a hard line last year in the case of Jamie Olis, a midlevel executive at the energy company Dynegy convicted of accounting fraud. The department argued that Mr. Olis deserved 292 months, or more than 24 years. He was sentenced to six years.

Sentencing experts said Mr. Libby’s sentence was both tough and in line with general trends.

“It was a pretty harsh sentence,” Professor Berman said, “because I tend to view any term of imprisonment for nonviolent first offenses as harsh. But it certainly wasn’t out of the normal array of cases I see every day.”

That Paris Hilton and Martha Stewart served prison time, while Libby whimpered and begged for mercy is a harsh reality that should be rubbed in the noses of Libby and all his supporters at every possible opportunity, and if public mockery could get Libby to somehow lose his cool, thereby violating the terms of his probation, thereby leading to a nice stay behind bars at a regular prison, then everyone should taunt and hound Libby and his backers at every possible opportunity

Short term gain for Libby and Gonzales means long-term loss for the DoJ and, hopefully, Libby if he violates probation

Ahhhh, for the good old days of 2002, when bloodsucking lobbyists like Jack Abramoff could get uncooperative US Attorneys removed, have his successor named, AND get an ongoing criminal investigation dismissed all on the same day

That this Administration was able to keep the above incident fairly quiet way back in 2002, the inability to follow the same perverted playbook regarding the purged US Attorneys, in which the Administration now finds a political fiasco completely of its own making, shows that blinding Presidential incompetence has spread throughout his Administration, most notably with Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales and badly misreading the voters moods leading up to Election Day 2006

It just shows that of the qualities on constant display with this Administration, corruption, ideology, unearned arrogance, the DEFINING characteristic is incompetence, and while there are no good choices for this Administration, it's the incompetence that brought about all the Administration's completely self-inflicted political woes

Bravo W, well played and "Mission Accomplished" Indeed!