Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

In general, I think that the sentencing practices that we follow in the US are abusive, and that terms are way, way too long. And I want to be careful in thinking about Scooter Libby and his pending 30 month stretch, because schadenfreude is such an ugly emotion. That said, however, there are a number of pretty good arguments for the severity of this sentence. One good one is that, as a lawyer, Libby owed the whole process-- from investigation through trial-- greater respect than he showed. He lied to the investigators, he lied to the Grand Jury, and then he mounted a cynical defense that amounted to a prayer for jury nullification. That's pretty despicable, as is the fact that his conduct encouraged others to withhold the truth. (It's too bad that Judith Miller isn't going with him. More jail time for her would still be less than she deserves.)

Fine list of war criminals he found to vouch for him, too: Rumsfeld, Kissinger, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz-- doesn't this guy know any rabbis or ministers? I also don't put much truck in the "public humiliation" argument-- if anything, I daresay he is a hero to exactly the sorts of cats that wrote him those nice letters. True enough, he is looking at disbarment (good, but not a sure thing). It is simply not true that he'll never work in Washington again-- Elliot Abrams has managed, and there is no question that Scooter will find a place in some think-tank, scribbling op-eds for the Wall Street Journal.And let's keep in mind that we aren't really talking about 30 months-- when good time is counted in, really it will come in well under two years I think. I don't thing the stretch is going to improve him in any way, and it is hard to see how the damage he has done to the country is helped any, but maybe the prospect of 30 months in stir will have a deterrent effect on other Yale/Columbia Law grads who are tempted to flip off a federal investigation. It doesn't seem to work for the inner city high school dropouts Libby and his pals are so fond of sending off for twenty year terms, but maybe it'll have an effect on more cerebral types.

Is he being made a fall guy for the war? Not if all he's getting is 30 months, he isn't.

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