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Libby Found Guilty in CIA Leak Case

"We're relieved that justice has been done," he said. "We see this as a reaffirmation that we are a nation of laws, we live in a democracy. The verdict shows no man is above the law."

Democratic leaders said Libby's conviction affirmed their concerns that the Bush administration had not told the truth about Iraq's potential threat to the United States and that it engaged in an unethical, no-holds-barred campaign against one man who questioned its assertions.

"Today's guilty verdicts are not solely about the acts of one individual," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). "This trial provided a troubling picture of the inner workings of the Bush administration. The testimony unmistakably revealed -- at the highest levels of the Bush administration -- a callous disregard in handling sensitive national security information and a disposition to smear critics of the war in Iraq."

Legal experts said Fitzgerald had a powerful, narrowly drawn perjury case based on the facts unearthed in his investigation, while Libby's attorneys struggled from the start with a defense theory that statements he made repeatedly and in great detail to the FBI and the grand jury might not have been accurate.

"The indictment laid out a theory of deliberate lies that Fitzgerald was able to deliver almost flawlessly at trial," said Bill Lawler, a defense lawyer at Vinson & Elkins and a former federal prosecutor in Washington. But the defense, he said, "had to play the cards they were dealt."

"The biggest problem they had was their client was on the record repeatedly saying what the government thought were lies. There wasn't a lot of wiggle room," Lawler said.

The count that accused Libby of lying to the FBI about his conversation with then-Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper troubled jurors for days. They asked the judge five questions about it as they deliberated, and they ultimately acquitted Libby of the charge.

Richard Sauber, Cooper's attorney, said he thinks jurors believed Cooper's testimony that Libby told him about Plame's CIA role in a July 12, 2003, phone call. Sauber cited the jury's decision to convict Libby on the charge of lying to the grand jury about that conversation.

But Sauber attributed the acquittal on the other false-statement charge to the jury's doubts about whether the FBI accurately described Libby's statements about his conversation with Cooper, something defense attorneys effectively called into question.

Staff writers Elizabeth Williamson, Peter Baker and Christopher Lee contributed to this report.

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