Tony Snow’s Defense Of Bush Commutation: ‘He Did What He Does Normally’

In an op-ed in the USA Today, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow mangles and distorts the facts in an attempt to claim Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison time was a demonstration of how much the “President respects justice.” Snow writes:

[Bush] believes it is important to respect the jury’s work. … So the president left intact the felony convictions and two of the major punishments — the fine and probation.

But he conveniently ignores Judge Reggie Walton’s recent warning that Bush’s clemency order “may wipe out Libby’s 2-year probation as well,” because the probation was contingent on prison time.

Snow continues: “No president in recent history has made more careful use of the pardoning power than George W. Bush.” Yes, it is true Bush has been stingy with his pardon and clemency power. Bush previously had commuted only three sentences, “all for drug offenses, from more than 5,000 requests. He has issued 113 pardons, fewer than other modern presidents.”


As the New York Times noted, Bush refused to grant commutations in very similar cases as Libby’s. The case of Victor Rita, a man who served for 25 years in the armed services and faced a similar fate as Scooter, stands out as an example of Bush’s hypocrisy. The Carpetbagger Report writes:

Both Rita and Libby are first-time offenders; both were convicted of the exact same crime. One lied about gun registration; the other lied about his role in outing a covert CIA operative during a time of war. The president believes the prior should be away for nearly three years, but believes the latter shouldn’t spend a single moment behind bars.

In a stirring conclusion that also serves as an indictment of Bush, Snow writes, “[The President] did what he does normally, and what makes those of us who work for him proud. He proceeded on the basis of principle.” Indeed, Bush did what he does routinely, showcasing once again his “principle” of rewarding incompetence and malfeasance from unethical staff for carrying out the White House’s horrendous decisions.

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