"I don't believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own, unless there are new facts or evidence of which a jury was unaware, or evidence that the trial was somehow unfair." – George Bush, A Charge to Keep
So President George Bush
has commuted the sentence of convicted perjurer Lewis "Scooter" Libby
. This came on the same day the U.S. Court of Appeals said there was so little doubt about his guilt that he would not stay out of prison during the appeal process.
What a different story it was a decade ago, when Bush was still simply governor. In his time at the mansion, Bush oversaw 152 executions, a bloodstained record that no modern governor has come close to matching. In an article in the August 2003 Atlantic Monthly
, Alan Berlow
noted his reticence to commute or giving clemency to anyone on death row. In those, Berlow argues, he was ably assisted by his legal counsel.
This consigliere was charged with preparing death sentence memoranda – an idiot's guide to the details of the case, including issues that may cast doubt on the sentence. This is the prime document upon which the governor is supposed to make clemency decisions. Instead, the counsel created documents that could have served as closing statements for the prosecution.
The name of that counsel, who authored 57 memos that sped convicts to their death? Alberto Gonzales
. One presumes the U.S. attorney general was not giving such advice about the fate of the underling of Vice President Dick Cheney
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