No Remorse, No Mercy

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, June 5, 2007; 1:34 PM

Scooter Libby today expressed no remorse, and Judge Reggie B. Walton showed no mercy.

The former vice presidential chief of staff spoke only briefly at his sentencing hearing in federal court today, thanking courtroom personnel for their kindness during his trial and saying: "It is respectfully my hope that the court will consider along with the jury verdict my whole life. Thank you your honor."

Libby's defense team had asked for probation. But Walton sentenced Libby to two and a half years in prison and fined him $250,000. Libby was found guilty in March of obstruction of justice for lying to a federal grand jury and the FBI about his disclosure of former CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.

Walton put off another important decision, however. Saying he was not inclined to grant the defense's request that Libby be allowed to remain free on appeal, Walton nevertheless put off his decision until a June 14 hearing.

Ever since Libby was convicted, his supporters have been urging President Bush to grant him a pardon. If Libby remains free on appeal, Bush would probably postpone such a hugely controversial decision, potentially until his last days in office. If Libby is sent to prison, however, that would likely spark an immediate and furious internecine battle within his administration.

Libby has never admitted that he did anything wrong, and his defense team argued in court filings that because special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald had proved no underlying crime in the case, Libby deserved a relatively light sentence. In my Friday column, I wondered whether that wasn't he same as arguing that Libby should be rewarded because his obstruction was successful. Walton apparently agreed.

The judge also poured cold water over defense arguments that some of his legal decisions during the trial had been flawed and would be overturned on appeal. "I think all those opinions are correct," Walton said, according to the invaluable liveblogging by Marcy Wheeler at firedoglake.com.

Amy Goldstein and Carol D. Leonnig write for The Washington Post: "'Evidence in this case overwhelmingly indicated Mr. Libby's culpability,' U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said moments before he handed out the sentence. The judge said he was sentencing Libby 'with a sense of sadness. I have the highest respect for people who take positions in our government and appreciate tremendously efforts they bring to bear to protect this country.'

"At the same time, Walton said, 'I also think it is important we expect and demand a lot from people who put themselves in those positions. Mr. Libby failed to meet the bar. For whatever reason, he got off course.' . . .

"'We need just to make the statement the truth matters ever so much,' Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald told Walton this morning. Fitzgerald also said, 'one's station in life does not matter,' as he argued that Libby does not deserve special consideration because of the public service he has rendered or the high government positions he attained."

Matt Apuzzo writes for the Associated Press: "In support of Libby's bid for probation, many prominent people wrote letters to Walton. Among the letter writers were: former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton."

And Terence Hunt reports for the Associated Press: "President Bush feels 'terrible' for the family of I. Lewis Libby but does not intend to intervene now in the case of the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who was sentenced to prison Tuesday, the White House said.


CONTINUED     1                 >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company