Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Immigration and Libby by Gary

Immigration “Reform” Update
The Senate is now working against the clock to wrap-up a series of votes on amendments that could make or break the grand compromise on immigration reform. Yesterday, Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid filed a cloture motion to cut off debate, dramatically limiting the ability of senators to amend the bill. A key vote could come tomorrow, and if it fails, Reid could pull the bill from the Senate floor and move on to other issues.

Here are just two of the amendments the Senate has shot down in the past 24 hours: Yesterday, the Senate defeated an amendment by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell requiring a photo ID to vote in order to combat voter fraud. Just hours ago, the Senate defeated an amendment by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to prevent criminal aliens – gang members, those with felony convictions and those currently facing deportation orders – from gaining legal status under this bill. Unbelievably, this amendment was defeated on a largely party-line vote of 46-to-51.

So where does this bill stand with public? After weeks of debate, after a full court press by the White House, and even after hostile shots from the president at his own base, a new poll by Rasmussen Reports shows that support for the “grand compromise” is in fact falling. Last week, 26% of likely voters supported the bill. This week, it’s down to 23%. Now some politicians are insisting that this bill is better than nothing, but on that point the voters disagree, too, and by a wide margin. When asked to choose between passing this bill or no bill at all, 32% prefer passing this bill, while 49% prefer no bill at all.

The Persecution Of Scooter Libby
Yesterday, Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail, fined $250,000 and given two years probation after he gets out of prison for his role in the Valerie Plame CIA leak “scandal.” Just to remind you: Scooter Libby did not leak Plame’s name; Richard Armitage, Colin Powell’s deputy at the State Department, was the “leaker” and the prosecutor investigating this “scandal” knew that. But, let’s compare Libby’s sentence to that of other prominent individuals. As was noted in last night’s debate, Bill Clinton lied to a grand jury and got his law license suspended and was fined $25,000 – no jail time, no six figure fine. Sandy Berger, Clinton’s former National Security Advisor, stole and destroyed classified documents from the National Archives and lied to investigators. Berger’s punishment: a three-year suspension of his security clearance, a $50,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. And there’s still a member of Congress sitting on Capitol Hill who was caught with $90,000 in his freezer, by the way.

I don’t mean to excuse Libby’s conduct, but there is no “justice” here. Scooter Libby served his country with distinction, has no criminal record to justify this extreme sentence, and even one of the jurors who heard his case has said he ought to be pardoned. I agree. The persecution of Scooter Libby is the latest example of the criminalization of politics that is taking place in Washington, and it will discourage good people from entering public service.

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