Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted in February. He was convicted in March.
Page 2 of 5   <       >

Fitzgerald Again Points to Cheney

Michael A. Fletcher writes in The Washington Post: "Former top Bush administration aide I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby should spend 30 to 37 months in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald contended in court documents filed yesterday.

"Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, has shown no remorse for lying to investigators and 'about virtually everything that mattered' in the probe of who disclosed the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame to the media in 2003, Fitzgerald wrote."

Matt Apuzzo writes for the Associated Press: "In court documents, Fitzgerald rejected criticism from Libby's supporters who said the leak investigation had spun out of control. Fitzgerald denied the prosecution was politically motivated and said Libby brought his fate upon himself."

"'The judicial system has not corruptly mistreated Mr. Libby,' Fitzgerald wrote. 'Mr. Libby has been found by a jury of his peers to have corrupted the judicial system.'"

Apuzzo does, however, note a key issue at next week's hearing: "Walton, who has a reputation for handing down tough sentences, . . . faces two important questions: whether to send Libby to prison and, if so, whether to delay the sentence until his appeals have run out."

As Josh Gerstein wrote in the New York Sun on Friday: "[T]he real cliffhanger at the sentencing hearing, set for June 5, is not what punishment Judge Reggie Walton imposes, but whether he allows Libby to remain free while pursuing his appeal. . . .

"Bail for Libby would amount to a reprieve for President Bush, who would then have until next year to make the politically sensitive decision about a pardon for the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney. However, if the judge orders Libby jailed forthwith, Mr. Bush will face intense and immediate pressure from many of his supporters to commute the sentence or grant a pardon."

Gerstein also provides some important background: "Federal law dictates that bail pending appeal be denied unless the appeal raises 'a substantial question of law or fact' that could reverse the conviction or have a significant affect on Libby's sentence. . . .

"During the trial, Judge Walton expressed little concern that the appeals court would disagree with his rulings. 'If I get reversed on that one, maybe I need to hang up my spurs,' he said after deciding a dispute stemming from Libby's decision not to testify in his own defense."

The Mockery of Bloggers

Nexthurrah blogger Marcy Wheeler blogs at the Guardian about how Libby's "defense team solicited his friends and associates to write letters to the judge arguing that Libby deserves a reduced sentence. Last Friday, Libby's lawyer Bill Jeffress submitted a filing opposing the release of those letters to the public. In it, he writes: 'Given the extraordinary media scrutiny here, if any case presents the possibility that these letters, once released, would be published on the internet and their authors discussed, even mocked, by bloggers, it is this case.' "

Concludes Wheeler: "Jeffress' invocation of bloggers is a cheap attempt to dismiss precisely what bloggers bring: an appropriate scrutiny of the motivations and actions of those who lied us into war and outed Valerie Plame."

Plan B?

There are conflicting reports out of the White House about plans for Iraq. Among the possibilities: Officials are planning for the aftermath of the surge's success; officials are planning for the aftermath of the surge's failure; both; or neither. Yet another possibility: Officials are just trying to muddy the debate.

<       2              >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company