We wouldn’t want to be known for cruel and unusual punishment, now would we? Gitmo excluded, of course.

Calling Scooter Libby’s sentence “excessive”, George W. Bush, the man who allowed countless questionable executions when he served as Governor of Texas, has just decided to commute Libby’s sentence for perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to investigators. Way to go George! You’re probably hoping someone will return the favor one day, if needed.

During his days as Governor, Bush, aided by none other than Alberto Gonzales, found no reason to stop over 150 executions, including the execution of people like Terry Washington “a mentally retarded man of thirty-three with the communication skills of a seven-year-old. Washington’s plea for clemency came before Governor Bush on the morning of May 6, 1997. After a thirty-minute briefing by Gonzales, Bush checked “Deny”— just as he had denied twenty-nine other pleas for clemency in his first twenty-eight months as governor.”

Well…that’s justified. Clearly it’s who you know, not what you know – or understand. (Paris Hilton being a case in point.)

Unfortunately Mr. Washington never had the good fortune to get caught outing a CIA agent while serving Dick Cheney. And Mr. Washington also had the misfortune of being black and retarded. Not a lot of political clout there I’m afraid – especially during the Bush years in Texas.

The quote I used comes from an article called Death in Texas by Sister Helen Prejean. She goes on to say:

“Bush wrote in his autobiography that it was not his job to “replace the verdict of a jury unless there are new facts or evidence of which a jury was unaware , or evidence that the trial was somehow unfair”. But new information about a mentally retarded man’s battered, abused childhood that his jury never got to hear – wouldn’t that qualify?”

No. I guess only a friend who helped ensure the implementation and continuation of Bush’s ill-conceived and shamefully executed policies in Iraq qualifies for mercy.

It’s true that President Bush was being pressured to pardon Libby, which he chose not to do, opting instead for a political compromise. And believe me…I’m all for acts of mercy. I only hope Mr. Bush decides to use his Constitutional power and apply that same compassion and mercy to help the many ordinary citizens who are truly serving unjust or excessive sentences.

But really Mr. President…are you saying that perjury and lying to investigators about something as critical as outing the identity of a CIA operative is a mere incidental transgression not deserving of actual prison time? I bet if Mr. Washington had done it, the outcome would have been far less merciful – assuming he could be executed twice.


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Commutation of sentence according to Wikipedia