The Propriety of Libby's Commutation
Jurors are human beings and as human beings want to understand a defendant's motivations. As a result, the overall narrative provided by the prosecutor, the context if you will, is extremely important. In Mr. Libby's case, Mr. Fitzgerald presented the jury the following damning narrative - there was a nefarious effort in the White House to destroy Joe Wilson's reputation and even to punish him, by allegedly hurting the career of his wife Valerie Plame; these activities were part and parcel of the broader effort to sell the Iraq war to the American people. While I believe this narrative to be fundamentally false, it proved successful with the jury. The fact that the critics of the President's decision to commute Mr. Libby's sentence invariably invoke the broad narrative of the alleged White House Iraq war - related nefarious activities, underscores how unfair and politicized this whole exercise has been.
To summarize, since, in my opinion, Mr. Libby's prosecution led to a fundamentally unjust result, the use of the pardon power to remedy the injustice, if only partially at this time, was an entirely correct and proper exercise of the President's constitutional powers