CommunityFDL Main Blog

“Evidence In This Case Overwhelmingly Indicated Mr. Libby’s Culpability”

libby.jpgVia the WaPo, from Amy Goldstein and Carol Leonnig:

"Evidence in this case overwhelmingly indicated Mr. Libby's culpability," U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said moments before he handed out the sentence. The judge said he was sentencing Libby "with a sense of sadness. I have the highest respect for people who take positions in our government and appreciate tremendously efforts they bring to bear to protect this country."

At the same time, Walton said, "I also think it is important we expect and demand a lot from people who put themselves in those positions. Mr. Libby failed to meet the bar. For whatever reason, he got off course.["]…

Prosecutors successfully argued that Libby had lied repeatedly to the FBI and a grand jury about how and when he learned about Plame's identity–and what he told reporters about her.

In the court filing that sought Libby's prison term, Fitzgerald emphasized that Libby's lies prevented investigators from learning the full truth about the campaign to discredit Wilson, and may have helped conceal another administration official's criminal leaks. Fitzgerald noted that Cheney was one of the first people to tell Libby about Plame, and that Libby has testified that Cheney and he may have talked about sharing information about Plame with reporters….

The month-long trial cast a harsh light on the way power and information flow through Washington. It offered a window onto the nation's divisions over the war, the Bush administration's disdain for critics and the complex working relationship between an elite tier of Washington journalists and their confidential sources inside the government.

The weeks of testimony and evidence also exposed rivalries within the White House, and the close guarding of information, even among the president's top aides. The trial also made clear that Cheney was involved more personally than had previously been known in the administration's campaign to discredit Wilson.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was revealed as Novak's original source on Plame's identity, a fact that Fitzgerald learned early in his investigation….

In the weeks before today's sentencing, admirers and detractors of Libby sent Walton more than 150 letters recommending leniency or a harsh prison term. Walton today released the letters, which come from high-ranking government officials and ordinary citizens. Among the current and former officials are former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger, and Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Ten days after the trial ended, Plame broke her long public silence about the case during an appearance on Capitol Hill. Calmly but bitterly, she lashed out at the the president's aides, telling a House committee that they had destroyed her career and slipped her name to reporters for "purely political motives That same day, the CIA confirmed for the first time that Plame had been working in a covert capacity when Novak's column disclosed her identity and that her employment status was classified under an executive order.  (emphasis mine)

Libby lied — repeatedly — for a reason. He is a lawyer, one who has practiced criminal defense law and was well-versed in perjury issues from prior representations of clients. He was a high-ranking public official.  We may never know the exact role that Dick Cheney and others played in this whole mess because I. Lewis Libby declined to be honest with investigators and a grand jury.  That is wrong, and an affront to our nation's system of justice — and, as an officer of the court, Libby knew that when he was repeatedly lying.  He was convicted by a jury of his peers, and now sentence has been passed on his conduct for a 30 month sentence to federal prison.

Arguments on whether or not Libby will be allowed to remain free on bond pending appeal will occur next week — but Judge Walton has already indicted that he is disinclined to buy such arguments from defense counsel.  That sets a high bar for them in terms of changing the judge's mind on that issue.  In the meantime, Libby was sentenced today to a 30-month term in federal prison, with a 2-year term of supervised release following the completion of that sentence, a $250,000 fine, and a requirement of 400 hours of community service.

No pardon.  No commutation of sentence.  Not now.  Not ever. 

We will have more on the case throughout the day as we get more information.  Thanks to everyone for all of the support throughout our reporting on this. 

UPDATE:  From Amb. Joseph Wilson:

As Americans, both Valerie and I are grateful that justice has been served, reconfirming that our country remains a nation of laws.

We are also saddened for the pain that Mr. Libby has inflicted on his family, friends, and the nation. Mr. Libby benefited from the best this country had to offer: the finest schools, a lucrative career as a lawyer and many years of service in Republican administrations. That he would knowingly lie, perjure himself and obstruct a legitimate criminal invetigation is incomprehensible.

It is our hope that he will now cooperate with Special Counsel Fitzgerald in his efforts to get to the truth. As Mr. Fitzgerald has said, a cloud remains over the Vice President.

Every official in this administration must be held accountable for their actions.

Wonder who the first reporter will be to ask Vice President Cheney about his cloud?

Previous post

Libby Sentencing Eight

Next post

Incrementalism is No Solution

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com