Correction to This Article
In some Oct. 23 editions, an article about I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby incorrectly reported that he has two sons. He has a son and a daughter. Also, the law firm of Dechert, Price and Rhoads, where Libby once worked, was misidentified.
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In the Spotlight And on the Spot

I. Lewis Libby, right, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, is driven from his home in McLean earlier this month. Among vice-presidential aides throughout history, Libby is distinctive for the power and authority he wields.
I. Lewis Libby, right, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, is driven from his home in McLean earlier this month. Among vice-presidential aides throughout history, Libby is distinctive for the power and authority he wields. (By Win Mcnamee -- Getty Images)

Friends say Libby cultivates an enigmatic bearing, one epitomized at the end of Miller's first-person account. She tells of her last face-to-face encounter with Libby, in August 2003 in Jackson Hole, Wyo., after she had attended a conference in Aspen, Colo. "At a rodeo one afternoon, a man in jeans, a cowboy hat and sunglasses approached me," Miller wrote. "He asked me how the Aspen conference had gone. I had no idea who he was.

" 'Judy,' he said. 'It's Scooter Libby.' "

Several aspects of Libby are subject to varied interpretations, or at the very least, casual mystery. Libby is loath to disclose -- even to close friends -- what the "I" stands for in his name. Matalin credits USA Today with "breaking" the story that Libby's first name is "Irv" (though other publications had reported "Irving" and public databases list him as "Irve").

Cheney's office would not confirm or deny what the "I" stands for.

Likewise, there are differing accounts of where "Scooter" comes from. He told the New York Times in 2002 that his father, an investment banker now deceased, coined it upon seeing him crawl across his crib. The same year, in an interview with King, Libby spoke of a childhood comparison to New York Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto ("I had the range but not the arm," Libby said).

Libby was born in New Haven, Conn., raised in Florida and -- like Bush -- attended prep school at Phillips Andover and college at Yale. He lives in McLean with his children and wife, Harriet Grant, a former lawyer on the Democratic staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Until he broke his foot, Libby played in a weekly touch football game in Chevy Chase.

After graduating from Columbia Law School, Libby was practicing law in Philadelphia in 1981 when Wolfowitz, then an assistant secretary of state, recruited him as a speech writer. At the time, Libby was reading William Stevenson's "A Man Called Intrepid," which described the British and American spy operation before and during World War II. "The characters' lives seemed considerably more exciting and meaningful than Libby's work in Philadelphia," wrote James Mann in the 2004 book "Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet."

Libby also worked for Wolfowitz during Wolfowitz's stint as policy undersecretary of defense during the first Bush administration. He had long been interested in unconventional warfare, particularly in the Middle East, and his portfolio included the biological and chemical capabilities of Saddam Hussein. Cheney, then secretary of defense, shared Libby's interest in weapons of mass destruction and was, according to a Pentagon official of that era, impressed by his diligence and analytical skill.

It was during the Gulf War that Miller also took notice of Libby. In a book that she co-wrote, "Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War," Libby is described as "a trim, boyish lawyer" who was frustrated that intelligence reports about Iraq's biological weapons program contained words like "probably" and "possibly."

"Libby," the book said, "told colleagues that intelligence analysts had an unfortunate habit: If they did not see a report on something, they assumed it did not exist."

The Gulf War era integrated several themes that have pervaded Libby's career: his interest in Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, his frustration with the U.S. intelligence apparatus and his willingness to make leaps and support preemptive action. He shared the disappointment of his Pentagon bosses -- Wolfowitz and Cheney -- that the U.S. effort in the Gulf War had not toppled Hussein.

During the Clinton years, Libby practiced law at the Washington office of Dechert, Price and Rhoads, where he represented Marc Rich, the fugitive billionaire whom Clinton pardoned hours before he left office. Libby was called to testify before a congressional committee investigating Clinton's pardons during the first months of the Bush administration.


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