Breaking: Bush commutes sentences of Ramos and Compean; Update: Will be released on March 20

Just across the AP wire, a gift to the base on his way out the door. Stand by for updates.

Update: Politico put the odds of it happening at 3-1. The major pardons still to come: Libby and CIA interrogators.

Update: WND noted last week that they were under consideration. The difference between a pardon and a commutation:

Rodgers said the former agents apparently are not eligible for a pardon, which would nullify the punishment. But they might be eligible for a commutation, which would result in a reduction of their sentences.

“It could be very possible that the pardon attorney may recommend to President Bush that Ramos and Compean’s sentences might be limited to the time they have already served,” Eichler said.

They’ve been in prison since January 2007.

Update: You can thank the Texas congressional delegation for this, probably. All 34 members signed a letter to Bush last week requesting the commutation.

Update: Even the U.S. Attorney who convicted them thought the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

Mr. Sutton has stood by the convictions but questioned the sentences.

“The only legitimate question, I think a legitimate question, is: ‘Is the punishment too harsh?’ I have always said the punishment in this case was harsh,” Mr. Sutton said on Nov. 14.

Update: Here’s the White House statement. They’re guilty as charged; it’s a simple question of the sentence having been too draconian. Hence the commutation instead of a pardon.

Bush didn’t pardon the men for their crimes, but decided instead to commute their prison sentences because he believed they were excessive and that they had already suffered the loss of their jobs, freedom and reputations, a senior administration official said.

The action by the president, who believes the border agents received fair trials and that the verdicts were just, does not diminish the seriousness of their crimes, the official said.

Update: Fox News says their sentences will expire now on March 20; they’d been facing terms of more than 10 years each. I’m looking for an explanation for the two-month delay.