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Libby judge questions Bush commutation as Judiciary Committee prepares hearings
Federal District Judge Reggie Walton, who sentenced Libby to 30 months in jail for perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements in the investigation of the outing of Plame, raised concerns about the President's commutation of Libby in a Tuesday filing. He suggested that the commutation cannot be used without Libby first serving time in jail.
"It has been brought to the Court's attention that the United States Probation Office for the District Court of the District of Columbia intends to contact [Scooter Libby] imminently to require him to begin his term of supervised release. Strictly construed, the statute authorizing the imposition of supervised release indicates that such release should occur only after the defendant has already served a term of imprisonment," Walton wrote in the filing, which was posted at the Sentencing Law and Policy Blog on Tuesday.
He added, "[Section 3583, the law in question] does not appear to contemplate a situation in which a defendant may be placed under supervised release without first completing a term of incarceration."
MAN GOT 33 MONTHS FOR SAME CRIME AS LIBBY
When President Bush decided this week that longtime vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby would not face jail time for perjury, his primary justification was that Libby's 30-month sentence was "excessive."
In commuting Libby's sentence, Bush directly contradicted an opinion outlined in a friend-of-the-court brief filed last year by his administration arguing that a 33-month sentence for perjury was "reasonable," a Democratic presidential candidate said.
"The questions we should all be asking ourselves today are: Why is the President flip-flopping?" asked Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., pointing out the previous case. "Why does Scooter Libby get special treatment?"
Libby Case May Aid Hamas Suspect
An alleged Hamas operative is likely to be among the first criminal defendants to try to capitalize on President Bush's commutation of the 2 1/2 year prison sentence imposed on a former White House aide, I. Lewis Libby Jr., for obstructing a CIA leak investigation. Mohammed Salah, 57, is scheduled to be sentenced by a federal judge in Chicago next week on one count of obstruction of justice. In February, a jury convicted Salah and a co-defendant, Abdelhaleem Ashqar, of obstruction, but acquitted the pair of a far more serious charge of racketeering conspiracy in support of Hamas's terrorist campaigns in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank.
"What the president said about Mr. Libby applies in spades to the case of Mohammed Salah," Salah's defense attorney, Michael Deutsch, told The New York Sun yesterday. "We'll definitely be bringing it up to the judge. … It's going to be a real test, a first early test of whether we're a nation of laws or a nation of men."