End Evil

Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jailed

Lewis "Scooter" Libby (formerly chief of staff and national security adviser to the vice-president, Dick Cheney) has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail for perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to the Iraq war. Despite this, Cheney issued a statement from the White House describing him as "a man of the highest intellect, judgment and personal integrity".

In his state of the union speech before the invasion of Iraq, Bush stated "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

That statement was completely untrue.

The CIA advised the president that the claim was dubious, and Bush ignored them. Joe Wilson (former US ambassador) went to Niger to check the facts, concluded they were not supported and said as much in the New York Times soon after the invasion.

This really pissed off Bush and Cheney, and soon after a leak to the press confirmed that that Wilson´s wife (Valerie Plame) was a covert CIA operative. Disclosing the identity of a CIA agent is a criminal offence so an investigation was launched. The FBI and grand jury investigations implicated Libby who stated under oath that he had learned her identity from a reporter, Tim Russert (who denied this). Judith Miller (formerly of the New York Times) refused to disclose her source and spent three months in jail as a result. Then Libby confirmed to her that she could name her source (him) and she was freed.

Libby then claimed that he had "forgotten" outing the CIA operative! Unsurprisingly, the jury did not believe him. Karl Rove also leaked the identity of Plame, but was sensible enough to admit to it and so avoided charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

When the jury found him guilty, Libby begged the judge "It is respectfully my hope that the court will consider along with the jury verdict my whole life." However, the Judge noted "It´s important that we expect and demand a lot from people who put themselves in those positions....Mr Libby failed to meet that bar." He imposed a 30 month jail sentence, a $250,000 (£125,400) fine and two years probation at the end of the prison sentence. Judge Reggie Walton also made it clear that he would not allow a drawn-out appeals process to keep Libby out of jail and will rule next week on whether Libby should be in jail while waiting for his appeal hearing.

Now a number of Republicans are complaining that the sentence was too tough as poor Libby was (in the words of the National Review) "a dedicated public servant caught in a crazy political fight that should have never happened, convicted of lying about a crime that the prosecutor can´t even prove was committed".

Republicans must have short memories - Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury in 1998 during the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit despite the fact that the lawsuit was dropped before proceeding to court. No Republicans complained about that! Furthermore, the Sentencing Guidelines which frame the judge´s decision were imposed by Republican President Ronald Regan (at that time Libby´s boss) and have been frequently defended by Republicans - until now. Interestingly, no-one seems to be claiming that Libby didn´t lie in court. So they accept that he is guilty of perjury - they just don´t care as much when it is one of their own doing the lying.

The White House have stated that Bush is not planning on pardoning Libby despite the pleading of many Republicans. If he does he will only reduce his standing further with everyone else.

Posted 7th June 2007

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