Monday, June 25, 2007


It can’t be easy to be Scooter Libby these days. Lost a trial. Sentenced to 31 months prison. Appellate Court denied his motion for appellate bond. And now, comes a punch in the gut from the Scooter’s conservative friends on the US Supreme Court in the decision in Rita v. US which was handed down last week. You can read the opinion on the SCOTUS Blog

Victor Rita was charged and convicted for the same crimes as the Scooter: perjury, obstruction of justice, making false statements to a grand jury. Rita like the Scooter had no relevant criminal prior history, served in the armed forces for over 25 years (unlike the Scooter and his bosses George and Dick- who send men to war, but never actually went when their country called them.). Rita received 35 commendations or medals for service to his country, and like the Scooter, Rita had many successful and powerful people write to the court on his behalf for a sentence that did not send him to prison. Rita was sentenced to 33 months (two months more than the Scooter) and his case reached the US Supreme Court. Rita argued that his sentence was not “reasonable”, which is the argument the Scooter is expected to make. The Supreme Court has ruled that Scooter’s lawyers can save their paper.

Writing for an 8-1 majority, Judge Breyer wrote that appellate courts may presume that a sentence within the guidelines is reasonable, although the presumption is not binding.

Rita’s sentence stands, and Scooter Libby- white powerful Republican (“hey, these sentencing guidelines can’t have been meant for me, can they?”) is in all likelihood on his way to prison in a few weeks.

Justice Stevens started off his concurrence with bigger fish to fry, noting that Booker was not unanimous but as precedent must now be accepted as settled law. (Can you say “Roe v. Wade”?) Bless Stevens for throwing the Robert’s court’s penchant for reversing those pesky liberal Supreme Court opinions of the past in the face of Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia and the gang.

But the interesting issue here is the presence of all those right wing, law and order Republicans writing tearful and sorrowful letters to the sentencing Judge reminding him of Scooter Libby’s devotion to his country and family. Some expressed surprise that a first offender with little chance of recidivism would even be facing prison.

As Bruce Willis said in the original Die Hard, “Welcome to the party pal.”

First, we have no tolerance for sentencing Scooter Libby to prison to send a message that even powerful people can be sent to prison. Scooter Libby should go to prison simply because he ignored the primacy of the law, and decided to lie to investigators in a criminal case. That type of conduct needs to be punished.

However, Scooter's friends' surprise at how unfair the sentencing laws are is what is really at issue here.

You want to remedy unfairness? Change the 100:1 crack to powder ratio of the sentencing guidelines and stop sending 20 year old black kids to jail for ten year minimum mandatories for possession of 1/100th the amount of crack that it would take for a more affluent (read white middle class) man to get the same sentence for power cocaine.

We have more than 2 million Americans in prison. (China- that paragon of Human rights abuse, has 1.5 million of it’s citizens in prison.) Human Rights Watch reported in 2000

that African Americans comprised 13 percent of the national population; 30 percent of people arrested; 41 percent of people in jail; and 49 percent of those in prison
One in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 was either in jail or prison, or on parole or probation in 1995. One in ten black men in their twenties and early thirties is in prison or jail. Thirteen percent of the black adult male population has lost the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.”

Don't some of those men have families? Aren't some of those men first offenders?

Something is wrong in our country, and it is not the liberalness of sentencing Judges.

What we are saying is that the wealthy elite of the this country expressed little surprise or outrage as we threw record numbers of Americans in prison, until one of their own was sentenced to prison.

Don’t despair for Scooter- since it was a federal case, he will not be sent to one of the hundreds of hell holes that comprise the state prison systems around this country. Maybe if Mr. Libby was sent to some prison where the guards bet on inmate fights and he was subject to daily abuse as tens of thousands of other prisoners in state prisons are, then maybe- if and when he emerged alive from his 31 months, there would be a real discussion of the state of prisons in this country.

Until then, Scooter can go to a minimum security camp, write his book, mow the lawn, get into shape, while his elite friends “tsk tsk” the mean Judge before raising a hundred thousand for the next politician who wins office on the “get tough on crime” platform.

See You In Court.

Just as an aside: How many prosecutors or Judges have ever visited a Florida medium security prison? Just wondering.


Fake Phil Rizzuto said...

The Scooter's going to prison? Holly Cow!!

Anonymous said...

One person can save the day here.
Guess who?

Here's a hint- start with the letter


Anonymous said...

Scooter Scooter
pardon pardon
scooter scooter scooter

sung to the tune of
shumie shumie
coco puffs
shumie shumie shumie

cereal guy said...

Why coco puffs?

WHy not shumie shumie
apple jacks
shumie shumie shumie

or even

shumie shumie
corn flakes
shumie shumie shumie

or my fav

shumie shumie
count chocula
shumie shumie shumie

Anonymous said...

Scooter: Ya pays yer money, and ya takes yer chances.

Ask for kosher food and a solitary confinement cell. You don't want anyone doing to you what Cheney has been doing to the country.

Anonymous said...

Catch that Shumie!! He's got me lucky charms!

Anonymous said...

A better question is how many ASAs & Judges have been in the jail ( esspecially 8 & ( ) or the Annex (4th floor) or the stockade/TGK. A small weekend like Paris would be awake-up call for most.

Anonymous said...

I have easy money on W issuing a pardon just before he gets on the prison bus.

Anonymous said...

Any of those who were defense attorneys before taking the bench most likely made one visit or more during our practice.

Anonymous said...

Free Scooter! Free Utpal! Free Korda! Free Maryjane!

serial guy said...

Lets approach this from a different angle: why Shumie?

Why not
Roy Black
coco puffs
roy black roy black roy black

marcus marcus
coco puffs
marcus marcus marcus

john schlessinger
coco puffs
john schlessinger john schlessinger
john schlessinger

works for me.

Anonymous said...

can't wait for the day scooter is pardoned and you choke on your froot loops, Rump!

Your friend in the the islands,


ps: the weather sucks today but the rum is a flowin'

Rumpole said...

I don't eat fruit loops, and the power to pardon is given to the executive to use at his sound discretion. Bush came into office criticisizing Clinton for his pardon fiascos- and promising to do better. The question now is whether our president is a man of his word, or not. We shall see. If Bush pardons Libby, that is fully within his rights to do so. I would not choke.

I am more amused at the white house's current position that the Vice president is not part of the executive branch. Except of course when the VP needs to exercise executive privilege.

fake L&L twins plus Jimbo Best said...

Rumpola- may I point out that the problem is not the Q- but his evil henchman JG, who does all the Q's courtroom dirty work. Together the two of them are starting an evil DUI empire and they must be stopped.

Anonymous said...

Quit crying. Prisons shouldn't be fun. Besides, how bad can they be? They don't seem to deter a lot of folks from committing additional crimes that subject them to more time...........

Anonymous said...

Rumps, I know you don't like entire articles being posted, but this one is not widely available because it hides behind a subscription to Times Select. Your call on whether to post.

A Vice President Without Borders, Bordering on Lunacy

It’s hard to imagine how Dick Cheney could get more dastardly, unless J. K. Rowling has him knock off Harry Potter next month.

Harry’s cloak of invisibility would be no match for Vice’s culture of invisibility.

I’ve always thought Cheney was way out there ­ the most Voldemort-like official I’ve run across. But even in my harshest musings about the vice president, I never imagined that he would declare himself not only above the law, not only above the president, but actually his own dark planet ­ a separate entity from the White House.

I guess a man who can wait 14 hours before he lets it dribble out that he shot his friend in the face has no limit on what he thinks he can keep secret. Still, it’s quite a leap to go from hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the capital to hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the Constitution.

Dr. No used to just blow off the public and Congress as he cooked up his shady schemes. Now, in a breathtaking act of arrant arrogance, he’s blowing off his own administration.

Henry Waxman, the California congressman who looks like an accountant and bites like a pit bull, is making the most of Congress’s ability, at long last, to scrutinize Cheney’s chicanery.

On Thursday, Mr. Waxman revealed that after four years of refusing to cooperate with the government unit that oversees classified documents, the vice president tried to shut down the unit rather than comply with the law ensuring that sensitive data is protected. The National Archives appealed to the Justice Department, but who knows how much justice there is at Justice, now that the White House has so blatantly politicized it?

Cheney’s office denied doing anything wrong, but Cheney’s office is also denying it’s an office. Tricky Dick Deuce declared himself exempt from a rule that applies to everyone else in the executive branch, instructing the National Archives that the Office of the Vice President is not an “entity within the executive branch” and therefore is not subject to presidential executive orders.

“It’s absurd, reflecting his view from the first day he got into office that laws don’t apply to him,” Representative Waxman told me. “The irony is, he’s taking the position that he’s not part of the executive branch.”

Ah, if only that were true. Then maybe W. would be able to close Gitmo, which Vice has insisted he not do. And Condi wouldn’t have to worry every night that she’ll wake up to find crazy Dick bombing Iran, whispering to W. that they have to do it before that weak sister Hillary takes over.

“Your decision to exempt your office from the president’s order is problematic because it could place national security secrets at risk,” Mr. Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to Cheney.

Of course, it’s doubtful, now that Vice has done so much to put our national security at risk, that he’ll suddenly listen to reason.

Cheney and Cheney’s Cheney, David Addington, his equally belligerent, ideological and shadowy lawyer and chief of staff, have no shame. After claiming executive privilege to withhold the energy task force names and protect Scooter Libby, they now act outraged that Vice should be seen as part of the executive branch.

Cheney, they argue, is the president of the Senate, so he’s also part of the legislative branch. Vice is casting himself as a constitutional chimera, an extralegal creature with the body of a snake and the head of a sea monster. It’s a new level of gall, to avoid accountability by saying you’re part of a legislative branch that you’ve spent six years trying to weaken.

But gall is the specialty of Addington, who has done his best to give his boss the powers of a king. He was the main author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects, and he helped stonewall the 9/11 commission. He led the fights supporting holding terrorism suspects without access to courts and against giving Congress and environmentalists access to information about the energy industry big shots who secretly advised Cheney on energy policy.

Dana Perino, a White House press spokeswoman, had to go out on Friday and defend Cheney’s bizarre contention that he is his own government. “This is an interesting constitutional question that legal scholars can debate,” she said.

I love that Cheney was able to bully Colin Powell, Pentagon generals and George Tenet when drumming up his fake case for war, but when he tried to push around the little guys, the National Archive data collectors ­ I’m visualizing dedicated “We the People” wonky types with glasses and pocket protectors ­ they pushed back.

Archivists are the new macho heroes of Washington.

Rumpole said...

#1- anything Maureen Dowd wants she gets on this blog.

2- as our previous comment shows, we have been following this lunacy- Cheney who has fought for expansion of executive power to the point where he has damaged this country- claiming the VP is not part of the executive branch. Priceless. These nitwits would be as funny as Broward if they weren't capable of doing such terrible damage.

Unsolved Mysteries said...

Rumpole its been sometime since Judge Blake, Judge P and other robed readers visted and posted a word or two. What gives?

Anonymous said...

Rumps, watch the poor press secretary try and defend Cheney today.

Click here.

Anonymous said...

New font?

Todd and in Charge said...

Great post.

But rumpole, re the Cheney fiasco, Tony Snow says his salary comes from the Senate.

That should settle it!