Bush: Libby Will Still Get ‘Harsh Punishment’

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


On CNN this afternoon, news of Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence—from jail time to parole and a fine—appeared on the main screen as the ticker tape below flashed news that one Guantanamo detainee had managed to get the charges against him dismissed. In the president’s explanation of his actions, Bush sermonized, “My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely…The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.” Images of Libby looking smug in a nice suit.

But what about the other detainees in Guantanamo? Many have been held for years only to be released with no charges against them. Unlike Scooter Libby, they were innocent. Unlike Libby, they served time. Their detainment was hardly cushy, as Mother Jones has reported. The Bush administration has failed even to take responsibility for the CIA’s abducting a Canadian citizen whose name resembles al Qaeda deputy’s and torturing him for months after they discovered the mistake.

Those held at Guantanamo have suffered from vision impairment, post-traumatic stress disorder and other serious mental health disorders, not to mention that their reputations—down to and including their identification papers—have been destroyed. Oh yeah, and their wives and young children have suffered immensely.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest