Most In Poll Say Bush Should Not Have Commuted Libby's Prison Sentence


Tuesday, July 10th 2007, 4:17 pm
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush's commutation of a prison term for a former aide to Vice President Cheney did not play well with the public or even Republicans, a survey found.

In a USA Today-Gallup poll released on Tuesday, 66% said Bush should not have intervened in the case of I. Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, whose sentence for obstructing justice in the CIA leak case included a 2 1/2-year prison term.

Thirteen percent said the president's move was correct, and 6% said Bush should have given Libby a full pardon.

Bush didn't even receive much of a boost in support from Republicans. Among them, 44% said Bush should not have taken action in the case. Ten percent said he should have pardoned Libby while only 26% said Bush did the correct thing.

Bush said Libby's sentence was overly harsh, despite federal court records showing it was less than half as long as the average sentence in obstruction cases. The sentence was also within the federal sentencing guidelines, which the Bush administration wants to make mandatory so judges cannot show leniency for criminals.

Libby is the highest White House official convicted in a government scandal since the Iran-Contra affair. He was convicted of lying about how he learned that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA and whom he told. Plame was outed in a newspaper column after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, began criticizing the Bush administration's war policies.

Libby's commutation has touched of a flurry of criticism on Capitol Hill much like President Clinton when he pardoned 140 people, including fugitive financier Marc Rich, in the closing hours of the presidency.

Democrats are planning hearings on the Libby commutation Wednesday.

The telephone poll of 1,014 adults was conducted from July 6 to 8 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. For the 394 Republicans surveyed, the margin of sampling error was plus or minus five percentage points.