FROM Margaret Colgate Love
Mandatory Sentencing in the War on Drugs Federal laws passed in the 1980's provided the same prison sentence for dealing in five grams of crack cocaine as for 500 grams of powder, a ratio of 100-to-1. But it turned out that the so-called "crack epidemic" never happened, and the Journal of the American Medical Association now says that crack is not more addictive than powder or more likely to lead to violence after all. But crack is used more often by African Americans, which means that federal prisons are crowded with black prisoners doing more time than whites for essentially the same crimes. Two weeks ago, the House and the Senate allowed new guidelines that make sentences for crack commensurate with those for powder cocaine. Should the change be made retroactive? Would 20,000 criminals be released all at once? We'll hear about the ongoing debate at the US Sentencing Commission.
Bush Commutes Libby's Sentence The sentencing judge in the Lewis "Scooter" Libby case is a hard-line conservative appointed by President Bush. He said the evidence of felony crimes by Libby was "overwhelming," and gave him 30 months in prison. Yesterday, a three-judge panel ruled that Libby's sentence could not be delayed. The Bureau of Prisons had assigned him a number. But five hours later, President Bush commuted what he called an " excessive " sentence. Though he said he "respected" the jury's felony verdict, today said he would not rule out a full pardon for the Vice President's former top aide. There's no doubt the President has the power, but legal experts disagree on the way he's using it. So far he's used clemency less than any president in the past 100 years. Do some criminals outside politics deserve official forgiveness?
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?