Bush Filed a Motion Last Year to Uphold the 33-Month Sentence of Victor Rita, a 24-Year Marine Corps Vet Convicted on Same Crimes as Libby

Last month, the Supreme Court agreed with the Bush Justice Dept., ruling against Rita’s appeal for a reduced sentence based his exemplary military service.

Sen. Joe Biden:

Tony Snow said that President Bush decided to commute Scooter Libby’s two and a half year-prison sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice, because it was “excessive.”

Yet last year the Bush Administration filed a “friend-of-the-court brief” with the Supreme Court, in an attempt to uphold a lower court’s ruling that a 33-month prison sentence for Victor Rita, who was convicted of the same exact charges, perjury and obstruction of justice, was “reasonable.”

Pres. Bush cited Libby’s “years of exceptional public service” in commuting his prison sentence. But Libby is the classic Bushie chickenhawk — a neocon bureaucrat with no service record whose fingerprints are all over the worst military planning in American history.

Conversely, Victor Rita is the real deal:

Victor Rita is a very sympathetic defendant: he served 24 years in the Marine Corps, had tours of duty in Vietnam and the first Gulf war, and has received over 35 military metals and awards. Also, he is an elderly gentleman who suffers serious health problems.

The Supreme Court ruled on the case last month:

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that criminal sentences within guidelines set by a federal commission are generally entitled to be upheld on appeal, a decision that limits legal options for defendants who feel that they have been punished too harshly.

By a vote of 8 to 1, the court held that, even though it recently ruled that the sentencing ranges set by the U.S. Sentencing Commission are no longer mandatory, judges who follow them may be presumed to have acted reasonably…

The case that the court decided yesterday, Rita v. United States, No. 06-5754, was meant to help define “advisory.”

Victor Rita, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, asked for a lighter sentence based in part on his past military service. But the judge gave him 33 months, as suggested by the guidelines. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, upheld the sentence, saying that penalties within the guidelines are “presumptively reasonable.”

It is customary in the pardoning process for the president to contact the Justice Dept. for input. But the White House is adamant that Bush did not speak to anyone at Justice about the Libby pardon. If he had run it past them, it’s possible he could have avoided what appears to be a spectacular blunder.


  • Curtis
    July 5, 2007 - 5:15 pm | Permalink


  • Chris
    July 5, 2007 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

    to Tony “devil in the details”–

    Tony, you do the same infuriating thing that all other neocons do, which is to change the premise so that the real issue is confused. Let’s assume this did have to do with the underlying crime rather than Bush’s hypocritical double standard response to the sentence. Wouldn’t you think that lying about machine guns is child’s play when compared to outing a CIA agent? The latter is treasonous, which used to be punishable by death in this country.

  • tony
    July 5, 2007 - 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Craig D:
    Perjury is perjury, I agree. And the Sentencing Guideines indicate a minimum sentence of 33 months for Rita (my apologies, not Vita, details, details…) and 30 months for Libby. That’s what a judge calculated, what a jury thought was deserved, what Congress legislated and what the Sentencing Commission thought was appropriate. Sounds like those sentences were popular.

    Executive clemency is the exact opposite of “popular.” It gets heinous killers off the electric chair. It lets fleeing felons living the good life in Zurich come home without consequence. It give the well-connected a “get out of jail free” card.

    Libby’s is still pursuing an appeal, one that will cost millions of dollars of other people’s money. Money donated for that express purpose. Bush may yet grant him a full pardon – another extraordinarily unpopular move. But as the clemency power illustrates, the Electoral College system suggests, and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln proves, presidents do NOT have to be popular.

    and my original URL went to Scalia’s concurrence, this is the URL to the Rita opinion (more details).


  • July 5, 2007 - 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Dear Presidnut Bush:
    As Commander-in Chief of our armed services, don’t you have the power to commute the excessive and harsh sentences of our troops presently doing hard time in Iraq?
    Please correct this grave mis-carriage of justice. They have suffered enough.
    Thank you.

  • tony
    July 5, 2007 - 6:30 pm | Permalink


    “…same infuriating thing that all other neocons do, which is to change the premise so that the real issue is confused.”

    If you’re referring to the “double standard” comments that appear in this thread, my comments on Rita pointed out that this was not an apples-to-apples comparison in the first place. If one wishes to make the argument that “all things being equal, White House connections will get you a pardon and being a regular Joe means an amicus brief opposing a reduced sentence,” all other things had better, in fact, be equal.

    Apples: Mr. Rita had a previous conviction for perjury. And while the conviction was too old to be considered as an *aggravating* factor in his sentencing, its existence would be a good reason for a judge to *refuse to mitigate* his sentence.

    Oranges: Mr. Libby has no prior convictions and, until this investigation, an unblemished record.

    Further, in regard to the commmutation in general, I agree, the underlying crime is irrelevant. The criminal is irrelevant. The connections (or even lack of connections) possessed by the criminal are irrelevant.

    The president has the unrestrained Constitutional authority to grant any degree of clemency to anyone. There is no qualification, no review, no check or balance.

    The president wields supreme executive power, and as such, the framers thuoght it appropriate to give the office the authority to *decline* to exercise that executive power over a particular convicted person.

    If you are unhappy with Bush’s judgment, don’t re-elect him. File a lawsuit against him. Make a criminal complaint. You’ll find that Congress, the Courts and the Constitution prevent you from doing any of the three (He can’t run again, he’s immune, and he’s done nothing illegal). You may organize a campaign to amend the Constitution. The last one took over 200 years to pass.

    This president has never cared about what’s popular, only what is legal. And by “legal” I mean “what is not expressly forbidden is implicitly allowed.” So until someone can point to some law that “expressly forbids” what Bush does, he’s well within his rights to continue doing it.

  • Hersey
    July 5, 2007 - 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Give me break, Libby should never have been charged in the first place.. sheez.. But it’s nice reading all your comments that make no sense.

  • Hersey
    July 5, 2007 - 6:36 pm | Permalink

    >>Bush’s hypocritical double standard response to the sentence.

    Curious if you were as outspoken about all of Clinton’s hypocrisies !!

    >>Wouldn’t you think that lying about machine guns is child’s play when compared to outing a CIA agent?

    Not when it was common knowledge that she worked for the CIA and was no longer “secret agent” .. ie could not now be outed.

  • Madison
    July 5, 2007 - 7:25 pm | Permalink

    A chickenhawk is a powerful politician who avoided military service himself and yet who blithely sends others off to fight and die. George Bush and Dick Cheney are prime examples. Bush spent his time in the military so coked up he couldn’t take the required drug tests and reportedly wrecked a fighter jet by steering it off a tarmac. Dick Cheney received five deferments during the Vietnam War based on the excuse that he was too busy to serve his country.

    Scooter Libby was of draftable age during Vietnam and either got a deferment or a low number in the lottery. In any case, he didn’t serve and is thus a chickenhawk.

    As to the other child molesting thing — why do conservatives always have their minds in the gutter?

  • Melissa
    July 5, 2007 - 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Hersey, I can’t understand how you can say that Libby should not have been charged. Isn’t perjury a crime?
    If not, why are other people in jail for it? If so, and Libby committed perjury, then how can you say he should not have been charged?

  • Craig D
    July 6, 2007 - 12:01 am | Permalink

    Hersey says these things because he’s drunken deeply of the right wing kool-aid & can’t help himself.
    You can tell because he spouts all sorts of silly things that it’s common knowledge among those educated in current events aren’t true, but since they’re on the list of talking points he’s assimilated, he parrots them in forums such as this thinking he’s made a point. Accordingly we’re favored with nuggets of wisdom such as – it was common knowledge that Valery Plame was a CIA agent therefore Scooter Libby lying to a grand jury wasn’t perjury because he shouldn’t even have been asked the questions he lied about. Note the especially twisted & obtuse wing-nuttery logic? Somehow the ruining of a persons CIA career & the endangerment of nobody knows how many in-the-field covert agents & the loss of valuable weapons of mass destruction intelligence (paid for by tax dollars before flushing down the toilet) all for petty partisan punishment was not important enough to even investigate, therefore Scooter Libby was justified in saying whatever he wanted to under oath, truth be damned.
    But what clinches it is his playground mentality tit-for-tat comparisons of Clinton that the real hard core kool-aid addicts like to trundle out, as if they never had an adult teach them the age old adage, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’.
    I’m afraid you’ll never get a meaningful response out of Hersey.

  • Judston
    July 6, 2007 - 12:23 am | Permalink

    Really think your vote counts? How many times has Ron Paul been obviously censored? If you actually listen or watch mainstream media…CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC,,blah blah, you are a sheeple. Ask Rupert Murdoch. anywayyyy… check out the new easy ways to manipulate the Diebold voting machines… just google it.. they will “pick” the next dictator.. either complain or do something but not just sit and gawk.

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  • Judston
    July 6, 2007 - 12:35 am | Permalink

    sorry here is the link on the voting machines…Watch your back..


  • Greg Bacon
    July 6, 2007 - 4:37 am | Permalink

    Aaahhh, another beautiful day in the


    Wonder what laws President Cheney and his sidekick, the Smirking Idiot Chimp, will violate today?

  • thomasp
    July 6, 2007 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    “And jsut so we are all clear….FEMA has set up INTERNMENT camps inside our own country for the sole reason to imprison AMERICANS if and when needed.(There over 600 prison camps in the United States, all fully operational and ready to receive prisoners. They are all staffed and even surrounded by full-time guards, but they are all empty. These camps are to be operated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) should Martial Law need to be implemented in the United States.”

    good lord that is one of the stupidest things i have ever read. comments like that just make us look like loons

  • defjam
    July 6, 2007 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    fuck bush

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  • July 6, 2007 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of the news media and disservice they do to Americans, lets take a closer look at the Libby and Riva comparison being called the same: from the Supreme Court opinion:

    Rita was convicted in May 1986, and sentenced to five years’ probation for making false statements in connection with the purchase of firearms. Because this conviction took place more than 10 years before the present offense, it did not count against Rita [for purposes of the Sentencing Guidelines]. And because Rita had no other relevant convictions, the Guidelines considered him as having no criminal history points.

    So in fact, Rita had been convicted for perjury for the second time in a gun-related investigation. Like Mr. Libby, Mr. Rita had no criminal history for purposes of the federal sentencing guidelines.Mr. Rita was convicted on two occasions of perjury in gun related investigations; in the second investigation, indictments for the underlying crime were returned. Not a compelling comparison to the Libby case.

  • Henry
    July 7, 2007 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    When the decider (GWB) comuted Libby’s jail time, to A find. This changed the rule of law on sentencing people who lie under oath.Now anyone can lie and expect the same sentence as Libby got. It’s only right. Also the decider has not explained about Libby’s probation time? were still waiting on that one?

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  • Joe
    July 10, 2007 - 11:18 pm | Permalink

    This is soo funny…America is like those third world country where you can buy votes and favors. America is going into a shit hole and no one cares.

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