Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Scooter convicted

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted today in the Valerie Plame case:
Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was convicted today of lying and obstructing a leak investigation that reached into the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Libby is the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s. The case brought new attention to the Bush administration's much-criticized handling of weapons of mass destruction intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

The verdict culminated a nearly four-year investigation into how CIA official Valerie Plame's name was leaked to reporters in 2003. The trial revealed how top members of the administration were eager to discredit Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of doctoring prewar intelligence on Iraq.


He faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced June 5 but under federal sentencing guidelines is likely to face far less. Defense attorneys immediately promised to ask for a new trial or appeal the conviction.


Libby was convicted of one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and one count of lying to the FBI about how he learned Plame's identity and whom he told. Prosecutors said he learned about Plame from Cheney and others, discussed her name with reporters and, fearing prosecution, made up a story to make those discussions seem innocuous.

Libby said he told investigators his honest recollections and blamed any misstatements on a faulty memory. He was acquitted of one count of lying to the FBI about his conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.

On the bright side, as Mr. Greenwald says, this shows that "[n]ot only are Bush officials subject to the rule of law (their radical theories of executive power to the contrary notwithstanding), they are also vulnerable to legal consequences (the defeatist beliefs of some Bush critics notwithstanding)." And though Mr. Greenwald remains optimistic, claiming that Fitzgerald "left open that possibility [of further indictments] in the event that new information came to light that warranted further proceedings", I remain dismayed:
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has led the leak investigation, said no additional charges would be filed. That means nobody will be charged with the leak and Libby, who was not the source for the original column outing Plame, will be the only one to face trial.

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