Well, surprise surprise.....Bush has intervened to save Lewis "Scooter" Libby from his richly deserved jail term. His reason - the punishment was too harsh. After all, Libby was only found guilty of four felonies (two counts of perjury, one of obstruction of justice and one of making false statements to FBI agents).
Bush commuted Libby´s two and a half year sentence but did not pardon him so he must still pay a $250,000 (£125,000) fine and will remain on probation. Bush quipped "I respect the jury´s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence is excessive." In other words "I couldn´t care less what the jury or judge said, and I like Libby so he is not going to jail".
Bush is not known for being particularly clement. When he was the governor of Texas, he issued fewer pardons than any other governor since the 1940s. But I suppose there is a precedent for his action in this case - his father pardoned six officials who were convicted in the Iran-contra affair. Clearly any crime becomes minor when the defendant is on their side.
The defence team argued "It is not necessary to incarcerate Mr. Libby to promote respect for the law or to serve the interests of general deterrence". Why not exactly? Do you think there will be less or more people prepared to lie to the FBI now that they know they will be protected from any unreasonable judge who applies the law as it was intended?
In contrast, the Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald noted "In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals."
The New York Times summed up Bush´s actions perfectly "(this) was the act of a liberated man - a leader who knows that, with 18 months left in the Oval Office and only a dwindling band of conservatives still behind him, he might as well do what he wants."