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Bush Commutes Libby's Sentence 1574

Posted by kdawson
from the next-stop-paris dept.
An anonymous reader notes that President Bush has decided to commute Scooter Libby's sentence after numerous appeals failed. Libby was convicted in March of obstruction of justice in connection with the Valerie Plame affair. The President's action spares Libby from 30 months behind bars."
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Bush Commutes Libby's Sentence

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by obeythefist (719316) on Monday July 02, 2007 @07:51PM (#19723621) Journal
    It's true the President has that kind of power, but isn't he supposed to at least try to seem impartial and not at all corrupt?

    Are there any stipulations regarding the Presidential use of power at all?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by daeg (828071) on Monday July 02, 2007 @07:57PM (#19723717)
      No. It is part of the checks and balances on the Judicial and Legislative branch (Legislative because if he wanted to, the President could pardon everyone convicted of a law he felt ran contrary to the country). He is supposed to show restraint in using the power and use it only when it does not weaken laws unnecessarily.

      Of course, since President Bush doesn't seem to follow much for precedent in other areas, it comes as no surprise he commuted the sentence.

      Personally, I don't care about Libby. I'm more concerned that he has weakened the force that testifying to Congress should hold. Testifying to Congress should be a big deal. Obstructing them should be a big deal. He not only lied to Congress, he lied to the country our Congressmen represent.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:11PM (#19723905)
        He not only lied to Congress, he lied to the country our Congressmen represent.

        Which one? Saudi Arabia?
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:15PM (#19723961)

        It is part of the checks and balances on the Judicial and Legislative branch
        I thought checks and balances were entirely optional now. Can't the judiciary just declare they're no longer part of the judicial branch, or claim this has to do with national security, or say they respect the president's right to his own opinion while completely ignoring him? Turnabout is fair play.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by linumax (910946) on Monday July 02, 2007 @07:57PM (#19723721)
      Well the question is could it get any worse for Bush? He can't get elected for a third term, his approval rating is lower that any other president, the Democrats do not have the balls to impeach Cheney, let alone Bush, etc. Will American people march in the streets against him? very unlikely, they're too busy following the lives of spoiled celebrities. It just can't get any worse for Bush.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:56PM (#19724439)
        luminax wrote:

        Democrats do not have the balls to impeach Cheney, let alone Bush, etc.

        Actually, it's questionable whether they could impeach Cheney. The Consitution outlines the procedure for impeachment of the President (presided by the Chief Justice) and everyone else (presided by the Vice-President) so that means Cheney will preside over his own impeachment hearing. And as for impeaching Bush, an escape maneuver was already perfected by Nixon and Ford.

        Personally, I'm hoping that a person will be elected in 2008 that will actually carry out a major house cleaning and reform policy. We've been screwed by the current administration and previous administrations because of a lack of accountability and transparency. Whether Democrat or Republican, this clean up needs to happen in a big way.

        While I'd like to see a number of members of the current administration serve time, nothing will change without real reform rather than just idle talk.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Workaphobia (931620) on Monday July 02, 2007 @11:09PM (#19725933) Journal
        > "Will American people march in the streets against him? very unlikely, they're too busy following the lives of spoiled celebrities."

        I just want to get this out there, and your post is as good as any to reply to.

        In the 60s, you had people running all over the place screaming about war and civil rights as loudly as they could. They were hippies, they were activists, they were protesters, they were idealists, and they were absolutely committed to their beliefs. So I want to state for the record the official reason why I, and perhaps other members of my generation, do not follow this example: It's not worth my fucking time. 3000+ civilians dead, 3000+ soldiers dead, tens of thousands of Iraqis dead, a government more transparently incompetent than ever before, Newspeak permeating through life as we know it (well, more so a few years ago than now), perpetual war that by definition cannot end ("War on Terror"), unregulated and uncontrollable executive privileges, domesting spying, and election fraud. It seems like never before has it all been so obvious, that never before has a problem or trap been more evident, yet 2004 showed me how fucking powerless we are to do anything about it. So you know what, I don't care that Bush pardoned/commuted/excused/whatever his buddy, I don't care what his administration does anymore, and I don't care that the world's going to Hell in a handbasket; I'm done caring. I'm going to spend my effort worrying about matters with a much greater (importance) * (ability to make a difference) product. Enjoy the scenery in Hell, because I'm keeping my fucking eyes closed.
      • by viniosity (592905) on Tuesday July 03, 2007 @12:06AM (#19726393) Homepage Journal
        ..and America is watching TV.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:02PM (#19723807) Homepage Journal
      It's true the President has that kind of power, but isn't he supposed to at least try to seem impartial and not at all corrupt?

      You've apparently not been paying attention to the news for the last 7 years. Let me introduce you to 21st century American Politics- when the question isn't "is this politician corrupt?" but rather "who has purchased this politician?", because the assumption is EVERY politician is corrupt.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shawnap (959909) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:06PM (#19723833)
      There is nothing impartial about pardoning someone.
      The act itself indicates that the individual being pardoned has either already been convicted by a jury or that his conviction is a forgone conclusion.

      The recompense is that it is all public.

      We all know that Libby lied to a grand jury;
      that he did it to obstruct the investigation of a felony;
      that he worked in the white house at the time;
      that he was convicted;
      that that the supreme court recently upheld a harsher punishment for the same crime;
      that his appeal was not heard;
      And finally, that the president, knowing all this, chose to commute his sentence.

      We are to review the president's actions.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by adisakp (705706) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:48PM (#19724339) Journal
      I remember when the CIA Leak first happened, Bush said (A) he had no idea who was reponsible and that (B) he would prosecute and punish to the full extent of the law anyone responsible.

      I guess as far as (A) goes, there's a small chance he wasn't lying if he didn't ask Cheney (or Cheney lied to Bush) but (B) is just another promise that he's failed to keep.
  • An Utter Farce... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kravlor (597242) on Monday July 02, 2007 @07:57PM (#19723723) Homepage

    ... and perfectly legal, in this case.

    Still, I guess it just goes to show that now, perjury is OK!

    I must also strongly agree with Joe Wilson: "Scooter Libby is a traitor." [cnn.com] I certainly hope that those responsible for the egregious breach of national security are convicted as such.

  • Bush is a coward (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cracked Pottery (947450) on Monday July 02, 2007 @07:58PM (#19723743)
    He could have pardoned Libby. Then Libby could continue to practice law and wouldn't have to pay the fine. Well, I don't think anybody thinks the fine will come out of his own pocket. And look forward to a pardon when Bush leaves office, which should not be under honorable circumstances.
  • by MadUndergrad (950779) on Monday July 02, 2007 @07:59PM (#19723749)
    Apparently our leader has decided that being shamed in front of your family and having your reputation tarnished plus being fined a nominal fee is enough of a punishment for high crimes against the government. Surely such things a possessing a few ounces of pot then deserve nothing more than a vicious finger-wagging, right? ....right?
  • For shame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dracos (107777) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:01PM (#19723779)

    Outing an active agent is an act of treason which, if I recall correctly, is still punishable by death in the US. Whether Libby, Rove, or Cheney did it doesn't (and shouldn't) matter.

    This so-called administration has broken, no--pulverized--their oaths of office.

  • I give up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:03PM (#19723809) Homepage Journal
    I'm firmly convinced that we haven't had the Democracy we were promised in America since 1963.
    While JFK and those before him were not perfect men, at least they tried to uphold the principals of this nation for the greater good of all Americans.

    With this administration so blatent with it's lies and contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution and with FOX pundits who often say they wish they could imprison or even kill Democrats or "lefties", I am convinced this nation is under the control of anarchists who wish to push this nation to civil war. And it's not Repubilicans vs Democrat... because the Democrats are hardly a better choice, but a division vbetween those who believe in the Constitution and individual rights, and those who want a Statist system where there is no longer any accountability.

    And I hope they keep pushing. Because I'm begining to believe that the time for the ballor box is nearing it's end and all we'll be left with is teh ammo box for casting our votes. The people will only be able to abide by so many offenses. If this blatent lawlessness continues to prevail, the people will sooner or later stand up, and some of those people will be Generals and Admirals within our military.

    Does this view sound extreme? Yes.
    But I hardly think it's far fetched.
    I'm sure there are a lot of people whose frustration is turning to anger and disgust.
    • Re:I give up (Score:5, Interesting)

      by linguae (763922) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:36PM (#19724217)

      I am convinced this nation is under the control of anarchists who wish to push this nation to civil war.

      Anarchists? If Bush and Co. were anarchists of the true definition of the word (i.e., people who want no government), we'd have balanced budgets, very little corruption, a massive reduction in the size of government, no war, etc. I don't think anarchist is the word that you are looking for. Quite the contrary, we're dealing with the near opposite of anarchism. (Disclaimer: I'm not an anarchist, but I am a strict constitutionalist who believe in limited government.)

      Our nation for the past 75 years has been controlled by people who want to expand the power and influence of government at the expense of our liberties. Anything in the Constitution that limits the power of the federal government (e.g., the Ninth and Tenth Amendments) have been ignored consistently for the past 70 years. The federal government's growth has gone nearly unchecked since 1933. What we've been getting for decades is "government by the politicians, for the politicians."

      I don't see any foreseeable change. All of the mainstream presidential candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, are still interested in maintaining the status quo of expanding government. More laws, more spending, more taxes, or some permutation of the three. The best that we could do is vote for the people who best maintain our Constitution, and brace ourselves.

    • Re:I give up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:42PM (#19724287) Homepage Journal
      Good God, you think that JFK was the last great president? If he hadn't gotten himself martyred, he would have gone down as one of the most corrupt and inept presidents in history. His party's rigging of the Illinois vote in 1960 was just as blatant as what happened in Florida in 2000. He gets credit for pushing through civil rights, but his support for that was always lukewarm, and ended up being pushed through after his death by his successor. And more than any one person, JFK deserves the blame for that stupid, pointless war in Vietnam.

      But he didn't live long enough for his chickens to come home to roost, and his successor, LBJ, found it politically expedient to give JFK the credit for his own accomplishments. Proof that in politics as in everything else, it's better to be lucky than smart.

      Every era has had bad presidents. There was Herbert Hoover, of whom it was said, "It ain't what he don't know that scares me -- it's what he knows for sure that just ain't so!" There was U.S. Grant, who was the greatest military leader of his time -- and the worst head of state of all time. There was the long string of bozos who could have prevented the Civil War, but didn't see what the big deal over slavery was....

      In that crowd, as in all things, Bush the Tiny just doesn't rate.
  • by VGR (467274) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:05PM (#19723827)
    So conveniently close to a holiday, too. A large number of people are on vacation, and both vacationers and everyone else will be too busy playing with booze and fireworks to give this much consideration.
  • by MechaBlue (1068636) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:06PM (#19723835)
    Halliburton owes Cheney for a lot of no-bid contracts. Cheney owes Scooter for muddying the waters in the Plame affair. Any bets on whether Scooter lands a choice position at Halliburton in the near future?
  • pardons and commutations since the Nixon pardon. And, perhaps, the Marc Rich pardon as well. My head is swimming. The President just commuted the sentence of a key insider to the executive branch, who committed felonies while on executive-branch time, and who hadn't even served a single day in jail. Further, he has a record of not commuting or pardoning offenders. From Carla Fey Tucker, the murderer he refused to pardon after she found Christ, to just about everyone else who has requested it during his presidency. But Scooter Libby, a man who alocuted his crimes before the court in order to receive a reduced sentence, has now just skated free.

    This absolutely reeks of conflict of interest. I am ashamed of my government.
    • by d3l33t (1106803) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:40PM (#19724271)

      This absolutely reeks of conflict of interest. I am ashamed of my government.
      I couldn't agree with you more. As a voter and taxpayer, I am sick of seeing my government make moral choices that i would scorn a 4th grader for (no offense, any 4th graders reading this). The corruption of this country seems to run deeper every year, and being someone whose only twenty it worries me. The biggest problem I sense the future holds is the ever growing numbing sensation when news like this is presented. More and more people seem to become desensitized. A 'now this, what's next?' taste lingers in the back of my mouth, and I await the news of more scandals uncovered. What don't I know about. The next logical question you ask yourself may be, 'how can we prevent further decay of our beloved country'. Good question America. But unfortunately, the damage is uncomprehensable from the bottom of the mountain.
    • Marc Rich... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ktakki (64573) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:07PM (#19724585) Homepage Journal
      Funny that you should mention Marc Rich, a financier involved in the Iran Contra affair and the BCCI banking scandal. Guess who his lawyer was?

      Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

      k.
  • Still gets the 5th (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TornCityVenz (1123185) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:07PM (#19723843) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps the worst part of this travesty of justice is that by doing this rather than pardoning him, this traitor still can continue to appeal, and Still will have the ability to plead the 5th in other cases related to the matter. in other words he can Cover of Bush and Cheney by pleading the 5th because he case is not pardoned. How convienant.
  • by Wilson_6500 (896824) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:08PM (#19723863)
    Little Billy learns today the valuable lesson that you are ultimately beyond reproach assuming your friends are sufficiently powerful.

    (I guess it just really goes to show that you can parade out this argument for any old thing.)
  • Once again, Bush the GREAT shows exactly how to chart a course for fairness, justice and truth. I think it was obvious to everyone that Scooter was the target of a Whitewater-esque witch hunt that had more to do with trying to pay back the Clinton investigations than it did any real crime, and I think the commute was fair. I used to think that history might only place Bush in the top ten of America's greatest presidents, perhaps behind Roosevelt in the last century, but now, I'm not sure that Bush might even be slighted by that.

    Could it be that George W. Bush should be in the top 5 of America's greatest presidents?

    THREE CHEERS FOR BUSH THE GREAT!
  • by tekrat (242117) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:10PM (#19723891) Homepage Journal
    Dick Cheney has frequently alluded that he is above the law in every respect, do you really think that his aides are any different? More proof that rich white guys almost never go to jail.

    And Bush commutes his measley 30 months in jail while still doing nothing for Ramos and Compean who are serving 11 and 12 year sentences for DOING THEIR JOBS as border patrol agents.

    What a crock justice is in the country. I have no respect for the law at all anymore.

    signed;
    A disgusted citizen of a corrupt nation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:22PM (#19724045)
    "Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation. I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."--President Bush. [nytimes.com]

    If Bush is citing the probation office's advice, what was that advice? How long was the lesser sentence? Zero, no jail time at all? If not, then why did Bush let Libby off scot free? What is the jail term Bush thinks is appropriate for perjury and objstruction of justice, and why was Libby not required to serve that term?

    And why does Bush say "I respect the jury's verdict," when he patently does not respect the jury's verdict? What could possibly constitute more disrespect than setting the verdict aside?
  • by eli pabst (948845) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:37PM (#19724229)
    George Bush (Sept 30 2003):

    "And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of."

    Yes, they sure will...
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:39PM (#19724255)
    There are a number of "who didn't see this coming" posts. Well, the political analysts didn't see it coming. The expectation was a full pardon after the election and before he left office. Instead, he let the conviction stand and gave him a "get out of jail free" card. Well, overall, I think it's worse for Scooter, seeing as how he'll still be a convicted felon, but at least this way he won't have to see the inside of a jail cell. But Bush claiming all sorts of moral superiority and treating his friends like the law doesn't apply to them is going to cost them in the election. Even the Republicans will be running on a "get the Republicans out of office" platform. We have surges that are not showing results from a war the administration knew was based off faulty inteligence. We have a leader who was on the "perjury is bad" bandwagon when it was the previous president, yet says it isn't a crime worth seeing the inside of a jail cell when it is a friend that does it to cover up what could have been treason.

    It was always expected. It may even have been justified (Scooter took one for the team, so the team is helping him out), but it was expected that such decisions would wait until after the election. Maybe he's hoping that people will forget about it by then, or that his approval is so low that it doesn't matter anymore.
  • by dircha (893383) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:39PM (#19724261)
    In my opinion a 2.5 year prison term is not excessive for a federal official lying to federal investigators in an effort to mislead the american people.

    A guy can get more time than that for personal marijuana possession. Which is worse, possessing some plant leaves, or conspiring to mislead the 280 million american citizens you are sworn to serve?

    For me the really depressing part is that I have zero confidence that we will ever bring these criminals to justice. They're raping our economy, our brave soldiers, our rights, and our dignity, and it really seems there is not a thing we can do about it but grit our teeth and bare it out. This news just drives home that point.

    IMHO, second to getting out of Iraq, my top priority as a voter for the next administration is to prosecute these criminals until they are old and infirm if that is what it takes. We must not let them retire to the easy life of private sector profiteering they think they have to look forward to, the life that Bush Sr. enjoys.

    It is the duty of this generation to send a message down through history: fool us once, shame on us, fool us agai... you can't fool us again, because this nation will pursue you to the grave; the american people not rest until you and all your cronies are made to account for the wrongs you have committed against us and against the world in our name. Never Again.
  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongMonkey (1027334) on Monday July 02, 2007 @08:55PM (#19724421)
    This may be the first major act by President Bush that is unquestionably constitutional.
  • by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:01PM (#19724491) Journal
    "But our winner, by unanimous decision: the 43rd President of the United States, who has tonight commuted the sentence of one of the key members of his own administration. Who has done it gutlessly, by press release. Who has buried it on the Monday of the longest 4th of July weekend possible. And who has, in so doing, forfeited his claim to being president of anything larger than a small, privileged, elitist, undemocratic, anti-constitutional cabal. As Oliver Cromwell said to the infamous Rump Parliament in England more than 350 years ago, 'You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.' George Walker Bush, today's worst person in the world."

    Tomorrow night on Countdown (8pm ET), Olbermann will call on Bush & Cheney to resign.

  • Driven to it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prof_bart (637876) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:03PM (#19724509)
    This whole fiasco (including the slashdot commentary) reeks of what has become the norm of American Politics.

    (1) How serious people think the crime is seems to be only dependant on what colour team they support: either (blue) "Complicit in the outing of a CIA operative - bordering on treason!" or (red) "No crime (she wasn't a covert operative), no harm (he had nothing to do with the news stories), no foul". Who is right? Who cares?

    (2) accusations of potentially politically motivated judicial decisions: The penalty given, and the refusal to allow appeals before incarceration has been argued to be at least marginally unusual for this sort of case (IANAL, but I've occasionally glanced at Google News), like the blue team finding a chance to make the red team make themselves look bad by drawing commutation out of wildly unpopular red team president: maybe, maybe not, but in this climate, who is to say? (hint, if you support the red team, the judgement was wrong and politically motivated. If you support Blue team, it was just and right and appropriate to the seriousness of the crime - see (1))

    (3) Shrill condemnation for a completely inevitable act by the red team: but, regardless of what team is in power, what do you expect? Either they honestly believe that the judgement was a miscarriage of justice (in which case, what else is the power to commute sentences supposed to be for) or he was actually up to no good, on orders from the government (in which case leaving the guy out to dry would go past the line of unethical). See (1) for a guide on how you should fall on this.

    Is this fiasco really factor for anyone? Wouldn't it be better if we stuck to what is *really* bothering us? There is plenty there, and it actually matters!

  • by careysb (566113) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:11PM (#19724643)
    Cheney is taking Scooter hunting.
  • by Giro d'Italia (124843) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:17PM (#19724715)
    How nice of Dubya to pardon a guy who was probably holding a lot of dirt about his administration in his back pocket.

    In the meantime, some kid in his 20s is rotting in a Georgia jail for having consensual sex when he was 17 and she was 15.

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/06/11/teen.sex.case/ [cnn.com]

    Obstruction of justice okay. Getting a blow job, no. Consistent with the Republican party's approach to Clinton I guess.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:26PM (#19724815)
    Who is going to commute Bush's sentence?
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:42PM (#19724979) Homepage
    Isn't it a wonderful country where people who are convicted of a crime don't have to serve the time but American citizens can be held in military brigs for years before they are even charged with a crime?
    God bless America...
  • by Arguendo (931986) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:42PM (#19724981)

    Whenever I see corruption like this I remind myself of our Founder's absolute GENIUS. The legislative branch creates independent prosecutor to investigate executive branch -> the people convict -> the judicial branch sentences -> the executive branch commutes -> the legislative branch goes nuts. It's a perfect series of checks and balances.

    Meanwhile, we go about our lives content with the knowledge that our government is far too involved arguing about whether some exec in the Vice-President's office lied about an investigation in which a crime may or may not have actually been committed (no one was ever charged) to actually scheme up ways to consolidate power and threaten the Peoples' freedom. And in the end, no branch got too much say and it was the people who were required to actually convict the dude.

    Thank you Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and Hamilton. This was the true gift of our Founding Fathers; not a perfect government. They knew that men will never change.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:53PM (#19725159) Homepage
    Here's the response I sent to someone who argued that the commutation was just:

    He was an extremely high ranking government official who lied to the FBI to protect the guilty. When that sort of thing is treated lightly, it sends a clear message to the public that our government is about politics and power, not about justice.

    FWIW, I also think Rep Jefferson (D-LA) should be put under the jail.

    The reason is this: a fine to Scooter Libby means exactly nothing. The PNAC will pay it for him. Moreover, for every Jefferson or Libby that gets caught, fifty scurry free through the halls of DC. And furthermore, the stakes are enormous. Libby will have power beyond yours or my imagining for the rest of his life for what he did. The only way to disincentivize the behavior, when one in fifty get caught and the rewards are frankly beyond my comprehension, is to make the penalty leviathan.

    Why do you suppose our politicians are so corrupt? Is it because they are bad people? No. It is because they are human and they are faced with enormous profit and zero downside. No one could be expected to maintain their moral integrity in the face of that. We have to help them stand their ground, by making corruption unthinkable.

    The only other option is to let it keep happening, and watch our nation continue to erode.
  • News for Nerds? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Danathar (267989) on Monday July 02, 2007 @10:37PM (#19725609) Journal
    If it was a political story related to tech I'd understand it being on slashdot.

    But what the hell is this story on the front page of Slashdot for?

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