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|JURY FINDS LIBBY GUILTY OF LYING, OBSTRUCTION
EX-TOP-AIDE TO VP CHENEY IS HIGHEST GOV'T OFFICIAL CONVICTED OF CRIME SINCE JOHN POINDEXTER IN 1980s IRAN-CONTRA SCANDAL
7 March 2007
The case was complex and convoluted, and risked jeopardizing numerous fundamental values of American liberty and jurisprudence. One reporter was sent to prison and many were subpoenaed and forced to give up their sources. But special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has said the case is now closed, though no one has been charged with the leak of classified information itself.
I. Lewis Libby, popularly known as "Scooter", was VP Dick Cheney's chief of staff and closest adviser. The case revealed in testimony from numerous officials what the media have classified as the vice president's "personal obsession" with going after anyone who questioned the reasoning used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The perjury case against Libby stemmed from the leak of the classified information that the wife of fmr. Ambassador Joseph Wilson was an undercover CIA operative. This information was reportedly revealed to both smear Wilson and to intimidate critics of the war policy in general. Fitzgerald's investigation found that retaliation was in fact the underlying motivation for the leak.
When questioned about the leak itself, Libby reportedly told a grand jury that he did not actually leak any such classified information, but was in fact given the information by reporters. It turns out that the investigation would reveal, Libby was given the information by his boss and was told it had been specially declassified by Pres. Bush so that it could be shared.
The original leak was reportedly attributable to then Deputy Sec. of State Richard Armitage, who has claimed responsibility and apologized for having caused any harm, though his actions have been categorized as technically within the law, because the president had authorized the release of the information by having it declassified. There still is some skepticism as to whether this is technically a legal act, or whether the proper legal procedure was followed in releasing this information to the public.
Federal law contemplates the release of such information at any time as a potential threat to the life of the individual agent and especially to their friends and/or associates in countries where their might be hostile interests in power or an atmosphere likely to provoke some harm to those suspected of involvement in espionage.
Libby's lawyers say they will seek a new trial, and that the conviction should not stand because so many witnesses changed their stories over the course of the trial. Libby himself changed his story, first claiming he learned of Plame's identity from the press, later saying he first heard it from Cheney, only to forget it for one month and learn it again from NBC's Tim Russert. Libby faces up to 30 years in federal prison for perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. [s]
Regardless of whether the president or the vice president have done anything illegal, it is now clear that they were both involved in deliberately using classified national security information to smear a critic of their Iraq policy. This contradicts statements made as recently as last week which suggest that the president opposed any such use of sensitive information for personal or political gain. [Full Story]
PRES. BUSH LINKED TO LEAK OF INFORMATION TO PRESS
As the case against Lewis "Scooter" Libby proceeds, for violating the federal law prohibiting the disclosure of the classified identities of undercover agents, he has reportedly testified to a grand jury that Pres. Bush was directly involved in the leaking of other information to the press. The information emerges from a court filing by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, citing testimony given during grand jury proceedings. [Full Story]
LIBBY CHARGED WITH PERJURY, OBSTRUCTION, RESIGNS
The office of the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, investigating the leaking of the classified identity of an undercover CIA agent, announced Friday a 5-count indictment [PDF] against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby. Libby was charged on 1 count of obstruction of justice, 2 counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury. [Full Story]