Congressman wants to censure Bush over Libby commutation
Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., plans to introduce a resolution that would censure President Bush over his decision to commute the prison sentence faced by former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the congressman said Thursday.
"This presidential intervention is an unconscionable abuse of authority by George W. Bush, and Congress must step forward and express the disgust that Americans rightfully feel toward this contemptible decision," Wexler said in a statement released by his congressional office.
Wexler, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, plans to introduce his resolution when Congress returns from its Independence Day recess next week.
The five-term congressman said Bush's decision was "nothing short of [a] political quid pro quo, and Congress must go on record in strong opposition."
The resolution is likely to be introduced first for consideration by the Judiciary Committee before it would be considered by the full House, a Palm Beach Post blog reported Thursday morning. The non-binding resolution simply expresses the sense of the House that Bush acted improperly and does not carry any other penalty.
Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice related to a criminal probe into the Bush administration's leaking the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose husband Joseph Wilson was critical of administration claims on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.
"This deceitful chain of events began with the Administration’s falsifying of intelligence on Iraqi nuclear capabilities," Wexler said. "It is clear that the perjury of Mr. Libby in this case effectively protected President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other Administration officials from further scrutiny regarding the clear political retaliation against former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, a covert CIA agent."
The full text of the resolution is reprinted below:
Resolution relating to the censure of George W. Bush
Whereas President George W. Bush has failed to comply with his obligations under Executive Order 12958 concerning the protection of classified national security information in that the covert identity of Valerie Plame Wilson as a Central Intelligence Agency operative was revealed to members of the media, and in June 2003 Bush Administration officials discussed with various reporters the identity of Ms. Wilson as a covert Central Intelligence Agency operative;
Whereas on July 14, 2003, the name of Ms. Wilson and her status as a CIA operative was revealed publicly in a newspaper column by Robert Novak, and on September 16, 2003 the Central Intelligence Agency advised the Department of Justice that Ms. Wilson’s status as a covert operative was classified information and requested a federal investigation;
Whereas knowingly leaking the identity of a covert agent is a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (P.L. 97-200);
Whereas Arthur Brown, former Asian Division chief of the CIA, stated that, “cover and tradecraft are the only forms of protection one has and to have that stripped away because of political scheming is the moral equivalent to exposing forward deployed military units";
Whereas Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, effectively stopped the investigation into this potentially grave national security crime by lying to FBI investigators, and Mr. Libby's perjury shielded the Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush from further inquiry;
Whereas on March 6, 2007, in U.S. District Court a jury found Mr. Libby guilty on four counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to FBI investigators regarding an investigation into the actions of the White House regarding leaking the identity of Ms. Wilson in retaliation for her husband's contention that the Bush administration twisted intelligence facts to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq;
Whereas on June 5, 2007, Mr. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000;
Whereas President George W. Bush had appointed both the Special Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, and the US District Court Judge, Reggie Walton, who were involved in the trial of Mr. Libby;
Whereas in February 2004, President George W. Bush stated that if anyone in his Administration “has violated [the] law, that person will be taken care of”;
Whereas on July 2, 2007, President Bush commuted the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison;
Whereas in commuting Mr. Libby’s sentence, President Bush has finally and unalterably breached any remaining shred of trust that he had left with the American people and rewarded political loyalty while flouting the rule of law: Now, therefore let be it --
Resolved, That the United States Congress does hereby censure George W. Bush, President of the United States, and does condemn his decision to commute the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison, his unconscionable abuse of his authority with regard to the deceitful chain of events concerning the falsifying intelligence on Iraqi nuclear capabilities and the exaggeration of the threat posed by Iraq, his involvement in the clear political retaliation against former Ambassador and Ms. Wilson, and his decision to reward the perjury of Mr. Libby, which effectively protected President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other Administration officials from further scrutiny.