Libby Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years in Prison

By MATT APUZZO and PETE YOST
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 5, 2007; 11:15 PM

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Tuesday for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation _ the probe that showed a White House obsessed with criticism of its decision to go to war.

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the highest-ranking White House official sentenced to prison since the Iran-Contra affair, asked for leniency, but a federal judge said he would not reward someone who hindered the investigation into the exposure of a CIA operative. The operative's husband had accused the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the Iraq war.

No date was set immediately for Libby to report to prison.

"Mr. Libby failed to meet the bar. For whatever reason, he got off course," said U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent years investigating the case, said, "We need to make the statement that the truth matters ever so much." He had asked for a sentence of up to three years, while Libby had asked for probation and no time in prison.

Reaction from the White House was still supportive _ but somber.

President Bush, traveling in Europe, said through a spokesman that he "felt terrible for the family," especially Libby's wife and children. Libby and his wife, Harriet Grant, have two school-age children, a son and a daughter.

Cheney said he hoped his former top aide would prevail on appeal.

Libby did not apologize and has maintained his innocence.

"It is respectfully my hope that the court will consider, along with the jury verdict, my whole life," he said in brief remarks in court before the sentencing, his first public statement about the case since his indictment in 2005.

A Republican stalwart, he drew more than 150 letters of support from military commanders and diplomats who praised his government service from the Cold War through the early days of the Iraq war.

Among Libby's supporting letter writers were former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, as well as Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox, a former longtime House member from California.


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