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Judging the Libby case

July 06, 2007

Re "Libby's sentence was not unusual," July 4

Having now thought, apparently for the first time, about the excessive nature of a prison sentence, perhaps President Bush might give some thought to whether a life sentence for stealing a slice of pizza or shoplifting golf clubs is warranted.

When he was governor of Texas, Bush signed off on many death warrants without a blush or second thought.

Hundreds of people annually receive decades-long sentences for nonviolent crimes -- all with the support of the Department of Justice. One can only hope that this sudden enlightenment by the president about fairness in sentencing goes beyond his immediate circle of friends.

MICHAEL H. ARTAN

Los Angeles

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What happened to the "tough-on-crime" Republicans? When it's their own, they are downright squishy soft. Whether it's reining-in corporate polluters or felonious members of Congress, they are nowhere to be found.

Bush's commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence is particularly insidious because Libby's crime was committed on behalf of the administration. What's to stop Bush, or any future president, from assigning staff to commit crimes with the understanding that the staffer will get off?

RYAN SNYDER

Los Angeles

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Re "Lucky Libby," editorial, July 4

This editorial is astounding in its arrogance. Not only does it label Vice President Dick Cheney an "unindicted co-conspirator" to Libby, it ignores the basic fact that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage was the leaker. If this omission is accidental, I pity The Times' editorial board. If purposeful, I can only assume this board wishes to undermine national security. And I do not think I'd be too far off the mark.

If anything, Libby was a victim of Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's selective indicting, and such a characterization should not have afforded Libby any jail time. Bush is exactly right in asserting that a fine and probation is a tougher punishment than should have been allowed, given the context and circumstances.

This case is a dead one, and to use it for political browbeating and after-the-fact finger-pointing displays reeks of a terrible arrogance.

GRANT WALLENSKY

West Hollywood

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Re "The Libby lesson for Iraq," Opinion, July 4

I wish there was some appeal that could be made to Bush by Sen. Richard Lugar, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that would influence Bush's Iraq direction. But Bush and Cheney are immune to thoughtful persuasion, public sentiment, geopolitical reality or the body count of U.S. soldiers.

As long as they remain in office, they will observe only two imperatives: shoveling federal dollars at their buddies and obstructing investigations into their actions. Both have unequivocally demonstrated that they are uninterested in the rule of law, the Constitution, ethics, morality or their personal legacies.

There aren't enough hours in the day for both representative government and war-profiteering. The wars in Iraq and on terror have never been about anything else -- the unfortunate events of Sept. 11 provided a pretext -- and thoughtful legislators of both parties must accept that, push back from the trough, start representing the people and stop deferring to our cynical administration.

GARY PAUDLER

Summerland, Calif.

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