Mike Lawrence: Scooting from prison

Paris, Libby walking free on the Fourth


Mike Lawrence

Call Mike Lawrence at 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com.

As soon as she said it, I knew I would see my mother's wry comment again - probably, as they say, in the funny pages.

"Paris had to go to jail, why not Scooter?" Mom quipped during dinner Monday night.

My parents are in town for the Fourth of July to relax and get a slice of Steamboat's American pie - meaning pancakes and a parade this morning, a Routt Beer Float or two in the afternoon and fireworks over Howelsen Hill tonight.

I love Routt County on the Fourth. I know my parents will, too.

My father is an award-winning former history teacher who reads several newspapers every day and keeps up with current events around the clock.

Which explains why Dad was appalled that I hadn't yet heard about President George W. Bush commuting the 30-month prison sentence for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr., the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Don't you work for a newspaper?" Dad said, only half-jokingly.

I do. But I had missed the latest twist in the Scooter saga.

Libby was convicted in March for lying to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about the 2003 leak of Valerie Wilson's secret employment with the Central Intelligence Agency. Also known as Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent is the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a prominent diplomat who accused the Bush administration of using misleading intelligence to justify war with Iraq.

In overturning the prison sentence Monday, on grounds that 30 months behind bars is an excessive punishment for federal perjury, President Bush left Libby with a $250,000 fine and two years of probation. Inside the Beltway, that's a slap on the wrist.

I can already hear pens scratching signatures onto Scooter Fund checks.

And sure enough, Mom's comment made the funny pages. Editorial cartoons and opinions about Paris and Scooter - about the vagaries of justice in America - are everywhere.

The commentary and courtroom circuses give a twist to this year's Indep-endence Day, a national celebration of freedom and justice for all.

Somewhere, Scooter and Paris are tipping a glass.


Murray Tucker 9 years, 8 months ago

As the American Revolutionary War gave Great Britain pause to consider its relation with its other colonies, as the losses in Vietnam and Iraq will eventually give pause to the manifest destiny of U.S. foreign policy, the Libby "excessive sentence" may give consideration to the sentencing guidelines that have incarcerated many thousands of individuals for much longer than common sense would deem necessary and cost the taxpayers many millions that would be better spent (or not spent) elsewhere. (Sorry for the extra long sentence).

Hopefully some good can come from the preference given to Scooter!

Murray Tucker


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