March 6, 2007

Libby Convicted On Perjury, Obstruction

I'm hospiblogging at the moment, as the First Mate has had problems today with her blood pressure, so I'm just catching up to the news that Scooter Libby got convicted on four of the five charges he faced in his trial:

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.

As the jury forewoman read each guilty count in a clear, solemn voice, Libby was impassive, remaining seated at the defense table, gazing straight ahead and displaying no visible emotion. His wife, Harriet Grant, sat in the front row with tears in her eyes and was was embraced by friends. Later she hugged each of Libby's lawyers.

Afterwards, Patrick Fitzgerald told reporters that he would not file any more charges in his investigation. This brings to a close a three-year odyssey in which the only crime supposedly committed turned out not to be one at all, where the perpetrator was discovered before the current special prosecutor ever got the case, and the only person to face charges is someone who never leaked any information at all. It's about par for the course for special prosecutors, who have become a bane on our system of justice, operating without oversight and with no limitations, working until they find charges to file even -- as in this case -- no underlying crime was committed.

Not to say that Libby should have been let off the hook, if he indeed lied to investigators and the grand jury, as this jury concluded he did. Regardless of the pettiness of the probe, people cannot be allowed to lie to the police or under oath at hearings and trials. It undermines our system of justice even more than out-of-control special prosecutors.

Of course, I made this same argument in 1998, when Bill Clinton committed perjury during another court case. I notice that his defenders at the time now want to string up not just Libby, but also Dick Cheney, despite (a) Cheney breaking no laws, and (b) their formerly cavalier attitude towards perjury -- which Cheney never committed. Why would they want to impeach Cheney for not committing perjury, when they fought the impeachment of Bill Clinton after he indisputably committed perjury? (He pled guilty to it, in case some don't recall.)

Those who want Cheney's hide will argue that he engineered the Plame leak, but that's ludicrous. The last person in this administration who would have done Cheney's bidding is Richard Armitage. He made clear at the time and at every opportunity since how much distaste he has for the VP and his staff.

The case will eventually find its way to an appellate court, where the justices will have plenty of issues on which to chew. Chiefly, the panel should look at the circus which preceded this prosecution and determine whether the lack of any underlying crime should mitigate towards a dismissal. Only when these special-prosecutor cases start getting tossed out will we finally see an end to that plague.


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» Scooter Watch: Yeah, We Know He Was Found Guilty from Pirate's Cove
I'm sure everyone and their mother is blogging it. One thing I would point out WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was convicted Tuesday of lying and obstructing a leak investigat... [Read More]

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» Libby guilty. Farce over? from Public Secrets: from the files of the Irishspy
Concluding one of the more ludicrous criminal actions in recent years, the jury has found Dick Cheney's former aide Scooter Libby guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. Byron York observes that the problem is not the jury, but the [Read More]

» Libby Found Guilty from Bill's Bites
I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby [Found] Guilty on Four of Five Counts in CIA Leak Trial WASHINGTON — Former White House aide I. Lewis Scooter Libby was found guilty Tuesday of four of five counts of perjury, lying to the FBI [Read More]

» Scooter Libby - convicted from Mark My Words
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