Earlier this afternoon Scooter Libby, Vice-President Cheney’s former Chief of Staff was found guilty on four of the five counts he had been charged with:
A federal jury today convicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby of lying about his role in the leak of an undercover CIA officer’s identity, finding the vice president’s former chief of staff guilty of two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice, while acquitting him of a single count of lying to the FBI.
The verdict, reached by the 11 jurors on the 10th day of deliberations, culminated the seven-week trial of the highest-ranking White House official to be indicted on criminal charges in modern times.
Under federal sentencing guidlines, Libby faces a probable prison term of 1 1/2 to three years when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton June 5.
On some level, this isn’t surprising. Libby’s defense — that he was too busy to correctly remember where and how he first learned of the identity of Joe Wilson’s wife — was somewhat absurd to begin with. Furthermore, the fact that he did not testify in his own defense was, I think clearly a mistake on the part of his attorneys given the type of defense they were asserting. If they truly wanted the jury to believe that he had forgotten the correct version of events because he was busy or had a congentially bad memory, not allowing him to testify about that and relying on other witness seems foolish in hindsight.
But let’s also be clear about what these verdicts do not mean. Libby was convicted of lying to federal investigators; essentially, the same thing that Martha Stewart was convicted of in connection with her insider trading scandal. Like Stewart, Libby was not even indicted for illegally disclosing the name of a covert operative. Like Stewart, it is fairly clear at this point that Libby probably didn’t even do anything illegal when he discussed Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA agent with reporters. Like Stewart, Libby most likely would not have been in criminal trouble at all had he told the truth to the FBI.
I’m convinced, though, that neither Libby nor anyone else in the Bush Administration was concerned with crminal liability when the Plame investigation was going on. This was, and always will be, a political scandal about the Iraq War. Libby, like his boss Cheney was concerned first and foremost with preserving the political integrity of the Bush Administration’s justification for going to war in March 2003.
It is ironic, then, that Libby will now go to jail, his career in ruins, because he was trying to protect a legacy that itself stands in ruins.
Originally posted at The Liberty Papers