|Bush's decision to commute Libby's jail term has been condemned by critics [GALLO/GETTY]|
George Bush has announced he is using the powers of the US presidency to commute the jail sentence of former vice presidential aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby for obstructing a CIA leak investigation.
The following is some reaction to the decision:
"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."
Senator Harry Reid, Senate Democratic leader
"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."
Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, 2008 Democrat 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… This commutation sends the clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice."
Senator Hillary Clinton, 2008 Democrat presidential candidate
"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… The arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking."
|Libby was found guilty of obstructing justice, |
lying and perjury [GALLO/GETTY]
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, 2008 Democrat 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… 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."
Former Senator John Edwards, 2008 Democrat presidential candidate
"President Bush did the right thing today in commuting the prison term for Scooter Libby. The prison sentence was overly harsh and the punishment did not fit the crime."
Representative Roy Blunt, House Republican Whip
"When it comes to the law, there should not be two sets of rules - one for President Bush and Vice President Cheney and another for the rest of America. Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law."
Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat
"While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the president's decision. This will allow a good a man who has done a lot for his country to resume his life."
Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, a likely 2008 Republican presidential candidate.
"[The decision is] emblematic of a White House that sees itself as being above the law."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Democrat
"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."
Senator Joe Biden, Democrat
"President Bush's 11th-hour commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence makes a mockery of the justice system and betrays the idea that all Americans are expected to be held accountable for their actions, even close friends of Vice President Cheney."
Senator John Kerry, 2004 Democrat presidential challenger
"The prison sentence was overly harsh and the punishment did not fit the crime. The sentence was based on charges that had nothing to do with the leak of the identity of a CIA operative."
|Libby resigned from the White |
House in 2005 [Reuters]
Representative Roy Blunt, Republican
"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."
Nancy Pelosi, Democrat leader in the House of Representatives
"I would remind people that this is the president who was governor of Texas (and) refused to commute the first death sentence of a female prisoner, even after the Pope pleaded for clemency."
Former ambassador Joseph Wilson, husband of Valerie Plame, the CIA undercover agent whose identity was exposed in the Libby case
"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… This is just the latest example of a White House that holds itself accountable to nobody."
Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat
"Until now, it appeared that the President merely turned a blind eye to a high ranking administration official leaking classified information. The President's action today makes it clear that he condones such activity. This decision is inconsistent with the rule of law and sends a horrible signal to the American people and our intelligence operatives who place their lives at risk everyday."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr., Democrat
"Accountability has been in short supply in the Bush administration, and this commutation fits that pattern."
Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat
"By commuting Scooter Libby's sentence, the president continues to abdicate responsibility for the actions of his administration. The only ones paying the price for this administration's actions are the American people."
Senator Chris Dodd, Democrat