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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

President deals blow to system of justice

Given his abysmal approval ratings, I suppose President Bush concluded that he had virtually nothing to lose by commuting the 30-month prison sentence given to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. for lying in the investigation of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame ("Bush spares Libby from prison term," July 3).

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But by eliminating Mr. Libby's prison sentence, the president has acted against the interest of the American people at large - playing instead to his political base, whose members have insisted that loyalty is paramount and generally have taken the view that Mr. Libby, who took a fall for the administration as a servant of Vice President Dick Cheney, should not be required to answer for his crimes.

It is ironic that a president who claims to stand for the rule of law and for an impartial justice system would act to stand that system on its head.

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The commutation of Mr. Libby's sentence shall surely live in infamy alongside President Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon and President Bill Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.

It is a tragedy for the American people that a president who governs as if he has been named king can take a sledgehammer to our system of justice when he does not approve of one of its decisions.

Oren M. Spiegler

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Crime does pay if it serves White House?

Only the most naive people could have failed to foresee the president's commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr.'s prison sentence ("Bush spares Libby from prison term," July 3). But while it is the president's privilege to commute such a sentence, doing so shows a gross disrespect for the law and sends the wrong message.

What it says is that you can commit perjury and if you do it to protect the vice president or president, you'll have your sentence commuted.

I guess that crime does pay.

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Olatunji Mwamba

Baltimore

Limit the extent of pardon powers

The commutation of the prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. proves yet again that the shamelessness of the Bush administration is boundless ("Bush spares Libby from prison term," July 3).

To commute the sentence of (or pardon) someone who broke the law acting on behalf of the administration is contemptuous of the rule of law.

I doubt that this proposal would pass, but I think we need to amend the Constitution to prohibit the president from pardoning or commuting the sentence of someone who has worked for him, either in the executive branch or politically.

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The current process encourages lawlessness. It can put the staff of the executive branch above the law.

It's OK, in my mind, for a future president to pardon or commute the sentences of some lawbreakers.

But for a sitting president to be able to insulate his subordinates from the law is an abuse of the system.

If this behavior isn't obstruction of justice and abuse of power, what is?

Mark Jacobs

Severna Park

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White House adopts ethic of street thugs

So the ethos of "stop snitching" has apparently reached all the way up to the White House ("Bush spares Libby from prison term," July 3).

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. may have been rewarded for not snitching on Vice President Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and other White House insiders regarding the outing of Valerie Plame.

This is just another poor example set by an executive branch that has no shame.

Braxton Andrews

Baltimore

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Executive privilege isn't really so novel

Rep. John Conyers Jr. and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy have sent a letter to the White House demanding documents related to the firing of U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration in which they appear to be quite mistaken ("White House rejects Senate subpoenas," June 29).

The letter reportedly says, "The veil of secrecy you have attempted to pull over the White House by withholding documents and witnesses is unprecedented."

However, an Associated Press report from last week concerning the letter notes, "Throughout the nation's history, presidents have repeatedly asserted executive privilege to keep secrets from the courts, the Congress and mostly anyone else."

Richard Seymour

Baltimore

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Poor animal control sets stage for attacks

I wanted to thank The Sun and reporter Lynn Anderson for doing a fair and intelligent article about the recent pit bull attack in Baltimore ("Pit bull attack revives enforcement issues," June 27).

I've been involved with American pit bull terriers in some capacity - ownership, rescue, training, education - for almost seven years now.

And it's very rare to read a story in the aftermath of an attack that addresses the animal control and irresponsible ownership issues that help create situations in which a dog attack can occur.

Most media outlets seem to want to demonize a particular breed of dog, rather than acknowledge that municipalities need to invest in their animal control mechanisms and crack down on the people who refuse to control their animals.

I have lived in Baltimore for five years and, like some of the individuals interviewed for this and other articles on this attack, I have had problems getting animal control to respond to my complaints about at-large or out-of-control dogs - not just pit bulls but dogs of many breeds, shapes and sizes.

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If the city's overtaxed animal control officers show up at all in response to calls, it is usually hours or even days later.

I hope this article encourages city officials to revive the city's Vicious Dog Hearing Board, staff it with experienced individuals who do not buy into breed-specific biases and spend money hiring enough animal control officers to respond to all the complaints.

Erin Sullivan

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Working Pit Bull Terrier Club of America.

Harsher penalties for pit bull abuse

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It is about time for the City Council to come up with serious legislation to either ban the ownership of pit bulls or adopt harsh criminal penalties for owners who abuse these animals ("Pit bull attack revives enforcement issues," June 27).

I am sure there are many loving and responsible pit bull owners; however, the majority of these dogs seem to be raised by thugs who teach them to fight other dogs, kill other animals and terrorize people.

Many of these poor animals are mistreated and not given proper veterinary care.

No animal should be forced to live a life that thrusts it into such a terrible existence.

Robert H. Paul

Baltimore

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Amnesty foes earn gratitude of public

I want to sincerely thank the U.S. senators who voted against amnesty and for the American people ("President changes tactics," July 1).

Not surprisingly, my debt of gratitude does not apply to Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski or Benjamin L. Cardin, who favored illegal immigrants over the American people.

Vivian Vann

Glen Burnie


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