'Scooter' Libby jail sentence commuted by US President George Bush

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Monday, July 2, 2007

U.S. President George W. Bush
I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, former chief of staff for U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney

The prison sentence of I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby has been commuted by United States President George W. Bush. Libby is the former chief of staff for U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, and was at the center of the CIA leak scandal, where the identity of former CIA agent Valerie Plame was allegedly leaked to the media by White House officials.

Bush's intervention ensures that Libby will not serve jail time, however Libby must still pay a US$250,000 fine and undergo two years of probation. In a statement, Bush said, "I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."

He continued, "My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting."

A federal court convicted Libby of perjury and obstruction of justice on March 6, 2007, and sentenced him to 2 1/2 years in prison. Bush issued the order to commute Libby's prison term after a federal appeals court ruled that Libby could not delay his prison term while his case was on appeal.

Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution grants the President authority to fully or partially commute the sentences of those convicted in federal courts, however acceptance of a pardon also requires the party to admit guilt in the matter.

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