Former White House aide Scooter Libby sentenced to 2 1/2 years in CIA leak case
WASHINGTON: Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation — the probe that showed a White House obsessed with criticism of its decision to go to war.
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the highest-ranking White House official sentenced to prison since the Iran-Contra affair, asked for leniency, but a federal judge said Tuesday he would not reward someone who hindered the investigation into the exposure of a CIA operative. The operative's husband had accused the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the Iraq war.
No date was set immediately for Libby to report to prison.
"Mr. Libby failed to meet the bar. For whatever reason, he got off course," said U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent years investigating the case, said, "We need to make the statement that the truth matters ever so much." He had asked for a sentence of up to three years, while Libby had asked for probation and no time in prison.
Is there a Presidential pardon in his future? Is he the fall guy for the administration? Thoughts? For now it looks like Libby is on his own...
(Note: the Bill Maher video attached to this story contains language that some may find offensive)
Bush won't intervene now in Libby case
ROSTOCK, Germany (Reuters) - President George W. Bush does not plan to intervene in the case of a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney while the appeals process is still under way, his spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, traveling with Bush in Europe for the Group of Eight summit, said Bush felt sorry for the family of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison for lying and obstructing an investigation related to the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war.
"The president said that he felt terrible for the family, especially his wife and his kids," Perino said.
But she noted that the appeals process, which could prove lengthy, was just getting under way.
"Given that and in keeping with what we have said in the past, the president has not intervened so far in any other criminal matter and he is going to decline to do so now," Perino said.
Libby was sentenced for lying to investigators trying to determine who leaked the identity of CIA analyst Valerie Plame in 2003. He was also fined $250,000 and two years probation.
U.S. President George W. Bush would be extremely reluctant to take the politically unpopular decision to pardon Libby now, 18 months before the end of his term, despite such calls from some longtime members of his Republican party. But if Libby could extend the appeals process to the waning days of the Bush presidency, he could win the pardon and be spared prison time.
"Mr. Libby was the poster child for all that has gone wrong in this terrible war," his lawyer, Theodore Wells, said. "He has fallen from public grace.
"It is a tragic, tragic fall."
Bush "feels terrible" about the sentence, particularly for Libby's wife Harriet Grant and the couple's two school-aged children, his spokesperson Dana Perino said, but she would not respond to questions about a pardon.
Cheney issued a statement saying Libby had "served the nation tirelessly and with great distinction."
He said he hoped the conviction could be overturned on appeal.
"Speaking as friends, we hope that our system will return a final result consistent with what we know of this fine man," he said, speaking for himself and wife Lynne.
In handing down a sentence almost totally in line with that requested by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Walton ignored some 150 letters of support, from the likes of former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, outgoing World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz and former United Nations ambassador John Bolton.
But not everyone rode to Libby's defence.
One person, who signed his or her name only as Angry Citizen – he or she would not give a name because, they said, they did not trust the administration – called for the longest jail term possible and offered regrets that neither Cheney nor White House strategist Karl Rove was headed for prison.
Under federal law, Libby would have to serve at least two years of his 30-month sentence before he could be eligible for early release.