Thank you, Sir. Patrick Fitzgerald for your dogged insistence that truth still matters, for removing at least one of the curtains that stand between truth and this dangerous administration, for remaining steadfast and professional while you dwelled in the shady underworld all things Cheney and bush represent and finally, for letting the American people know that corruption, perjury and obstruction of justice remain the grievous crimes our forefathers intended them to be. Watch your back though, Mr. Fitzgerald. No one knows better than you the kinds of folks you're dealing with but still, watch your back. These people will stop at nothing and let's not forget that cloud you spoke of hanging over the head of Grampy Cheney. Let's never forget.
With all credit given to the New York Times, the details of yesterday's ruling are as follows:
By NEIL A. LEWIS
Published: June 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, June 5 — I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the principal architects of President Bush’s foreign policy, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison for lying during a C.I.A. leak investigation that became part of a fierce debate over the war in Iraq.
The sentence ordered by Judge Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court and his refusal so far to delay its enactment means that Mr. Libby may have to report to prison in about two months. That was expected to prompt Mr. Libby’s supporters to accelerate their calls for Mr. Bush to grant him a pardon, although a White House spokeswoman offered a discouraging view of that possibility Tuesday.
Mr. Libby, who was once one of the most powerful men in government and was heavily involved in planning both Iraq wars, stood calmly in the well of the court as Judge Walton said he appreciated his long service to the country, the record of which was put forward by his lawyers as an argument for probation and no prison time.
But, the judge said, “People who occupy these types of positions, where they have the welfare and security of the nation in their hands, have a special obligation to not do anything that might create a problem.”
Judge Walton, who presided over the trial that ended in March with Mr. Libby’s conviction on four felony counts, said the evidence was overwhelming that Mr. Libby had obstructed justice and lied to a grand jury and F.B.I. agents investigating the disclosure of the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, Valerie Wilson.
The sentence was several months longer than the minimum recommended by federal sentencing guidelines, based on what Judge Walton said was his agreement with prosecutors that Mr. Libby’s crimes obscured an investigation into a serious matter and that his lies obliged the government to engage in a long and costly investigation that might have been avoided had he told the truth.
If Mr. Libby goes to prison, he will be the first senior White House official to do so since the days of Watergate, when several of President Richard M. Nixon’s top aides, including H. R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman, served prison terms.
In the second setback to Mr. Libby, Judge Walton refused a request by defense lawyers to delay the sentence until Mr. Libby’s appeals are exhausted. Unless the judge reverses his position, as Mr. Libby’s lawyers will press for in arguments next week, or unless Mr. Bush grants a pardon, the Bureau of Prisons is expected to order Mr. Libby to report to a federal prison in the next 45 to 60 days.
Mr. Bush, who learned of the sentence while traveling in Europe, expressed sympathy for Mr. Libby and his family through a spokeswoman, Dana Perino, who was accompanying the president on Air Force One from the Czech Republic to Germany. But as to the possibility of a pardon, Ms. Perino said only, “The president has not intervened so far in this or any other criminal matter, so he’s going to decline to do so now as well.”
Several Republicans advisers close to the White House, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that they were perplexed as to why Mr. Bush seemed reluctant to acquiesce in pardoning Mr. Libby. Mr. Bush has pardoned more than 100 people so far, but none have been prominent.
An intriguing question for many is what role Mr. Cheney will play in pressing Mr. Bush to grant a pardon. In a statement, Mr. Cheney noted that Mr. Libby was appealing the verdict and said that he and his wife, Lynne, “hope that our system will return a final result consistent with what we know of this fine man.”
Judge Walton issued his sentence after intense arguments by both sides over the significance of Mr. Libby’s crimes, and after sifting through scores of letters asking for leniency that were sent to the court by notable figures, including former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and Paul D. Wolfowitz, who recently resigned as president of the World Bank and who is a former professor and government supervisor of Mr. Libby. Neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Cheney were among the 150 people who wrote letters of support.
In addition, Mr. Libby, who did not testify in his own defense at the trial, delivered a brief statement, asking Judge Walton to “consider, along with the jury verdict, my whole life.” Mr. Libby, who has continued to maintain his innocence, did not offer any words that would have hinted at an acknowledgment of wrongdoing.
Mr. Libby was not charged with leaking Ms. Wilson’s name, which first appeared in a column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003. Mr. Novak’s sources were later revealed to be Richard L. Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state, and Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s senior political adviser in the White House, neither of whom was charged with violating the law prohibiting the disclosure of the identities of C.I.A. officers.
But Mr. Libby was indicted on charges of lying about his conversations with reporters about Ms. Wilson. Mr. Libby argued that the three reporters who contradicted his grand jury testimony were incorrect and that, in any event, he was too pressed by other business to remember details about any conversations concerning Ms. Wilson.
A Libby defense lawyer, Theodore V. Wells Jr., asked Judge Walton to sentence Mr. Libby to probation or home confinement. He urged the judge to take account of Mr. Libby’s long record as a public official, saying that was not an appeal for special treatment but for consideration of the way he had lived his life. Mr. Wells said Mr. Libby had already been punished, through “public humiliation,” hate mail, the virtually certain loss of his license to practice law and the desire of some people to make him “the poster child” for all that has gone wrong with the Iraq war.
“He has fallen from public grace,” Mr. Wells said, his voice dropping to a hush. “It is a tragic fall.”
Many of Mr. Libby’s supporters have hoped he would remain free on bail for more than a year during any appeals. In that view, Mr. Bush might find it more palatable to issue a pardon down the road, perhaps just before leaving office.
A spokeswoman for a legal defense fund on behalf of Mr. Libby would not comment Tuesday. But several of the fund’s organizers have urged that Mr. Libby be pardoned if necessary to avoid a prison sentence, including Fred D. Thompson, (keep your eyes on THIS scary monster) the actor and former senator from Tennessee who has made it clear that he is likely to seek the Republican nomination for president.(p>
In court on Tuesday, the chief prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, urged Judge Walton to issue a stiff sentence that would “send a message that the truth matters.” Mr. Fitzgerald said Mr. Libby’s misstatements had made it difficult for law enforcement officers to figure out the truth “in a hall of mirrors.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Walton fined Mr. Libby $250,000. There is no parole in the federal system, but an inmate may be eligible for a reduction of up to 54 days a year for good behavior.
Judge Walton, who is generally regarded as a firm, by-the-book jurist, rejected the request to delay enacting the sentence. The judge said there was no issue that Mr. Libby’s lawyers could appeal that seemed to present a reasonable chance of succeeding. But he relented somewhat and said they could file briefs next week detailing their arguments that there were two reasonable grounds for appeal: that Mr. Fitzgerald’s appointment as a special counsel was improper and that Judge Walton had erred in prohibiting the defense team from presenting experts on the fallibility of human memory.
The only other figure from the Bush White House to have been convicted of a serious crime is David Safavian, a lower-ranking official who has been sentenced to 18 months in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Mr. Safavian’s sentence has been stayed pending his appeal.
Jim Rutenberg contributed reporting.
The tangled web has had a few threads removed but, the cloud still remains.
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