Ever since before the trial, people knew this outcome was coming. Bush would never allow any of his top insider people see the inside of a jail cell (they know too much: one hour of jail and you know these babies would be blabbing their heads off for leniency). And while the Scootster had been convicted months ago, it wasn't until the recent appellate rejection of Libby's request to await final ruling on bail that Bush realized Scooter could be jailed soon and so... this.
And while the GOP elite will be celebrating that one of their own is free, refusing to recognize their hypocrisy, their self-serving greed and illegality, that their party now has no shred of integrity left, the rest of us who have to abide by the laws of the land will have to just sit here and vote them out of office next year.
Oh, there are things we can do: we can push harder for impeachment proceedings against Cheney and Bush; we can call the Congressional Judiciary committees and demand further investigations into Bush's criminality; we can go (we OUGHT to go, where the hell is everybody?) into the streets to protest. But it's not really going to do much to change the fact that Bush, Cheney and their cronies have broken nearly every security law on the books, and shredded the legal system in the process.
One thing this action has done, it has highlighted one of the absolute powers that a President has: to issue pardons and clemency except in cases of impeachment. This is one of the few powers where Congress has no say, where they cannot pass legislation limiting who and when a President can invoke this right. This is one of the few powers that the courts cannot block, if the President pardons or commutes someone's sentence that's it end of the case.
The only thing that can limit the President's power of pardon is the Constitution itself. Which needs to be done in one very specific area: limiting the ability to pardon your own friends, cronies, and underlings.
This happens often enough, and I didn't even think first about the pardon Ford issued Nixon regarding Watergate, which was the last time a pardon created massive political backlash (it cost Ford his own election in 1976). There's also been:
- Bush the Elder's pardoning of people, including friends and coworkers, for their roles in Iran-Contra.
- Bill Clinton's pardoning of colleagues of his brother-in-law (the Gregorys), Susan MacDougal from the Whitewater scandal, and Marc Rich a wealthy fugitive whose wife made large campaign contributions to the Clintons.
Something to point out with the Iran-Contra pardons and the Clinton pardons was how many of those benefiting from this Presidential power were close allies to the same President who issued the pardons, commutations, and other acts of clemency. Which smacks of two things: cronyism and conflicts of interest. It's a great way for a President to commit criminal acts:
1) get your buddy underlings to do something illegal;
2) when the crime leaks to the press, blame said underlings;
3) manipulate the investigation one way or another to ensure the whole truth never comes out, leaving said underlings held responsible;
4) wait out the trials to see if your buddies get off;
5) if they get convicted, use your power of pardon to clear their records and close the investigation.
This needs to end. The President and his administration must always be held accountable to the law. He, and his friends, should not benefit from a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. There needs to be an amendment to the Constitution spelling this out:
- The President's power to issue pardons and other acts of clemency cannot be granted to people who worked for that President's administration at any level, nor to people who financially contributed to any political campaign run by that President at any time.