Irve Lewis "Scooter" Libby
(born August 22, 1950)
was an Assistant to the former President of the United
, George W. Bush
of Staff to the former Vice President
, Dick Cheney
, and Assistant to the Vice President
for National Security Affairs
serving from 2001 to 2005, and is a convicted felon
Libby resigned all three government positions immediately after he
was indicted on federal charges of obstruction
resulting from the grand jury investigation
into the leak of the covert identity of Central Intelligence Agency
officer Valerie Plame
. In his trial
for his role in the Plame affair
, United States v. Libby, the jury convicted Libby on four of the five counts in the
indictment: one count of obstruction of justice; two counts of
perjury; and one count of making
false statements to federal investigators.
The day after his conviction in that trial, he resigned his later
appointment as senior advisor at the Hudson Institute
(January 1, 2006 – March
the highest-ranking White
House official convicted in a government
scandal since Henry Cisneros,
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Clinton pled
guilty to one count of lying to the FBI.
eventually pardoned by Clinton.
On June 5, 2007, the presiding trial judge, Reggie B. Walton
sentenced Libby to 30 months in federal prison, a fine of $250,000,
and two years of supervised release, including 400 hours of
community service, and then ordered Libby to begin his sentence
immediately. On July 2, 2007, when Libby's appeal of Judge Walton's
order failed, President Bush commuted
Libby's 30-month prison
sentence, leaving the other parts of his sentence intact. In
commuting Libby's prison term, Bush stated: "I am commuting the
portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty
months in prison. ... My decision to commute his prison sentence
leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he
gained through his years of public service and professional work in
the legal community is forever damaged." After Libby paid his
monetary fine and penalty totaling $250,400, Judge Walton queried
aspects of the presidential commutation, and lawyers filed their
briefs supporting Libby's serving supervised release, resolving the
issue and thus clearing the way for Libby to begin the rest of his
sentence, the two years of supervised release and 400 hours of
On December 10, 2007, Libby's lawyers announced that he would drop
his appeal of his conviction in the case, leaving intact his
remaining sentence and fine and leaving on his record his felony
conviction, unless he were granted a full
presidential pardon. The next day, December 11, 2007, Bush issued
29 pardons but did not include Libby among them. As a consequence
of his conviction in United States v. Libby, his
license to practice law was suspended by the Supreme Court of
Pennsylvania in December 2007. On April 3, 2007, the
District of Columbia Bar
suspended his license to practice law in Washington,
D.C., and recommended his disbarment pending his appeal of his
conviction. On March 20, 2008, after he dropped his
appeal, he was disbarred by the District of Columbia Court
of Appeals, in Washington, D.C., at least until 2012, when he is eligible to apply
Background and education
born to an affluent Jewish family in New Haven,
Connecticut; his late father, Irving (or Irve) Lewis Liebowitz,
was an investment banker.
graduated from the Eaglebrook
School, in Deerfield, Massachusetts, a middle school, in 1965, according to his old
friend, former roommate, and debating team co-captain Nick Bromell,
who is now professor of English and director of graduate studies at
the University of
Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts. According to New York Times reporter Scott Shane,
"The family lived in the Washington region, Miami and Connecticut", prior to Libby's graduation from Phillips
Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1968.
He and his elder brother, Hank, "a retired tax lawyer", Shane
reports, "were the first in the family to graduate from college."
matriculated at Yale
University in New Haven,
Connecticut, in Fall 1968, graduating magna cum laude in 1972.
Yale Daily News
Jack Mirkinson observes, "Even though he would eventually become a
political beginnings would not have pointed in that direction. He
served as vice president of the Yale College Democrats
campaigned for Michael Dukakis
he was running for governor of Massachusetts." According to
Mirkinson: "Two particular Yale courses helped guide Libby's future
endeavors. One of these was a creative writing course, which
started Libby on a 20-year mission to complete a novel ... [later
published as] The
... [and] a political science class with
professor and future Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
. In an interview with author
, Libby said Wolfowitz was one
of his favorite professors, and their professional relationship did
not end with the class." Wolfowitz would become a significant
mentor in his later professional life.
In 1975, as a Harlan Fiske Stone
Scholar, Libby received his Juris
) degree from Columbia Law School
Marriage and family
married to Harriet Grant, whom he met
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the late 1980s while he was a partner and she
an associate in the law firm then known as Dickstein, Shapiro, and
Morin: "'When he and Harriet became serious,' Dickstein partner
Kenneth Simon wrote, 'she chose to leave the firm rather than
maintain the awkward situation of an associate dating a partner.'"
Libby and Grant married in the early 1990s, have a son and a
daughter, and live in McLean, Virginia.
Libby was a litigation associate at the Philadelphia law firm of
Harrison, Segal & Lewis
, but left to work in Washington for
. He later became a
partner and head of the Washington, DC office of the Philadelphia
law firm of Dechert Price
. His first criminal defense lawyer in the Plame
leak case was Joseph Tate, a Dechert partner, who had been an
acquaintance of Libby's at the Schnader law firm in Philadelphia,
where Libby was an associate and Tate was a litigation
Name and nicknames
At times, according to various news accounts, and as documented in
a federal directory cited by Ron Kampeas
and others, Libby has used "Jr." after his name. At other times,
however, as listed in his federal indictment and United States v. Libby
, which give his alias
as "Scooter Libby", there is no "Jr." after
Libby's name. Libby has been secretive about both his actual
(what the initial "I" stands
for) and about the origin of his nickname "Scooter". In an article
published in The New York
in late April 2001, Eric Schmitt divulged Libby's
"two secrets", saying parenthetically: "It takes a phone call to
Mr. Libby's older brother, Hank, to learn that the 'I' stands for
Irv. His nickname
'Scooter' derives from
the day Mr. Libby's father watched him crawling in his crib and
joked, 'He's a Scooter!'"
In their February 2002 interview on Larry King Live
, King asked Libby
specifically, "Where did 'Scooter' come from?"; Libby replied: "Oh,
it goes way back to when I was a kid. Some people ask me if ...
[crosstalk] ... as you did earlier, if it's related to Phil Rizzuto
[nicknamed 'The Scooter']. I had
the range but not the arm."
Just prior to and after his indictment in the CIA leak grand jury
on October 28, 2005, others in the news media
gave various, sometimes contradictory,
accounts of his first name, its spelling, and the origin of his
nickname "Scooter" (sometimes citing, with or without attribution,
information conveyed earlier by Schmitt's 2001 telephone interview
with Libby's older brother Hank and King's 2002 television
interview with Libby). National
, the BBC
, The New York Times
reported that the initial "I"
stands for either Irving
father's first name); and/or, alternatively, abbreviations of
"Irving" — "Irv" or "Irve" (his father's nickname).
first and only novel, The Apprentice, about a group of
travelers stranded in northern Japan in the
winter of 1903 during a smallpox epidemic,
was first published in a hardback edition,
by Graywolf Press, in St. Paul,
Minnesota, in 1996 and reprinted as a trade paperback, by St. Martin's Thomas Dunne Books, in
After Libby's indictment in the CIA leak grand jury
, in 2005, St. Martin's Press reissued The
as a mass market
(Griffin imprint). It has been described as "a
thriller ... that includes references to bestiality
After earning his J.D.
from Columbia in
1975, Libby joined the firm of Schnader, Harrison, Segal
, becoming a partner the following year, in 1976.
the bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on October 27, 1976, and to the Bar of the District of Columbia Court
of Appeals on May 19, 1978.
practiced law at Schnader for six years before joining the U.S. State Department policy planning staff, at the invitation of his
former Yale professor, Paul
Wolfowitz, in 1981. In 1985, returning to private practice, he
joined the firm then known as Dickstein, Shapiro, and Morin (now
Dickstein Shapiro LLP), becoming a
partner in 1986 and working there until 1989, when he left to work
in the U.S. Defense
Department, again under his former Yale professor Paul Wolfowitz, until January
returning to private legal practice from government, Libby became
the managing partner of the Washington, D.C. office of Mudge, Rose,
Guthrie, Alexander & Ferdon (formerly Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, and Alexander);
in 1995, along with his Mudge Rose colleague, Leonard Garment––who had replaced John Dean as acting Special Counsel to U.S.
Richard Nixon for the last two years
of his presidency dominated by Watergate,
and who had hired Libby at Mudge Rose twenty years later––and three
other lawyers from that firm, Libby joined the Washington,
D.C. office of Dechert, Price, and
Rhoads (now part of Dechert LLP), where
he was a managing partner, a member of its litigation department,
and chaired its Public Policy Practice Group, until 2001, when he
left to return to work again in government, as Vice President
Cheney's chief of staff.
billionaire commodities trader Marc Rich,
who, along with his business partner Pincus
Green, had been convicted of tax
evasion and illegal trading with Iran, and who,
with Green, was ultimately pardoned by
President Bill Clinton, was a client
whom Leonard Garment had hired Libby
to help represent around the spring of 1985, after Rich and Green
had first engaged Garment.
Libby stopped representing Rich
in the spring of 2000; early in March 2001, at a "contentious"
hearing to review
Clinton's pardons, Libby testified that he thought the
prosecution's case against Rich "misconstrued the facts and the
law." According to Jackson Hogan, Libby's roommate
University, as quoted
in the already-cited U.S. News & World Report
article by Walsh, " 'He is intensely partisan...in that if he
is your counsel, he'll embrace your case and try to figure a way
out of whatever noose you are ensnared in.' " According to
House Committee on Government Reform report, however, "The
arguments made by Garment, [William Bradford] Reynolds and Libby
[in their testimony] focused on the claim that the
was criminalizing what should have been a civil tax case.
They did not make, compile, or in any other way lay the groundwork
for, or make a case for a Presidential pardon. When former
stated that they
'reviewed and advocated' 'the case for the pardons,' he suggested
that they were somehow involved in arguing that Rich and Green
should receive pardons. This was completely untrue" (162).
Bar suspension and disbarment
Before his indictment in United States v. Libby, Libby had been
a licensed corporate lawyer,
the bars of the District of Columbia Court
of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, although his Pennsylvania law license was
inactive, and he had already been suspended from the Washington,
Office of Bar Counsel (D.C. Bar) for
non-payment of fees. The Chief Judge of the District of Columbia
Court of Appeals recommended permanent disbarment
upon confirmation of his conviction,
which Libby had initially indicated that he would appeal. Having
suspended his license to practice
on April 3, 2007, the D.C. Bar "disbarred [him] pursuant to
D.C. Code § 11-2503(a)" on legal grounds of "moral turpitude",
effective April 11, 2007, and recommended to the D.C. Court of
Appeals his permanent disbarment
conviction were not overturned on appeal
December 10, 2007, Libby's lawyers announced his decision "to drop
his appeal of his conviction in the CIA leak case." On March 20,
2008, following the dropping of his appeal of his conviction, the
District of Columbia Court of Appeals disbarred Libby. As a result of the
Court's ruling, "Libby will lose his license to practice or appear
in court in Washington until at least 2012", and, "As is standard,
he will probably lose any bar membership he holds in other states";
that is, in Pennsylvania.
Government public service and political career
after working as a lawyer in the Philadelphia firm Schnader LLP,
Libby accepted the invitation of his former Yale
science professor and mentor Paul
Wolfowitz to join the U.S. State Department's policy planning staff.
From 1982 to 1985,
according to his official U.S. State Department biography, Libby
served as director of special projects in the Bureau of East Asian
and Pacific Affairs. In 1985, he received the Foreign Affairs
Award for Public Service from the United
States Department of Defense, and he resigned from government to enter private
legal practice at Dickstein, Shapiro, and Morin.
he went to work at the Pentagon, again under Wolfowitz, as
principal deputy under-secretary for strategy and resources at the
During the George
H. W. Bush administration
was confirmed by the U.S. Senate
as deputy under secretary
of defense for policy, serving from 1992–1993. In 1992, he also
served as legal advisor for the House Select
Committee on U.S. National Security and
Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of
. Libby co-authored the draft of the Defense Planning Guidance
for the 1994–99
fiscal years (dated February 18, 1992) with Wolfowitz for Dick Cheney
, who was then Secretary of Defense
1993 Libby received the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S.
Defense Department and the Distinguished Public Service Award from
the U.S. State Department before resuming private legal practice
first at Mudge Rose and then at Dechert
Libby was part of a network of neo-conservatives
known as the "Vulcans
" — its other members included Wolfowitz,
, and Donald Rumsfeld
. While he was still a
managing partner of Dechert Price &
, he was a signatory to the "Statement of Principles" of
the Project for the
New American Century
(PNAC) (a document dated June 3, 1997). He
joined Wolfowitz, PNAC co-founders William Kristol
, Robert Kagan
, and other "Project Participants"
in developing the PNAC's September 2000 report entitled,
"Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for
a New Century".
After becoming Cheney's chief of staff in 2001, Libby was
reportedly nicknamed "Germ Boy" at the White House, for insisting
on universal smallpox vaccination
. His was also nicknamed "Dick
Cheney's Dick Cheney" for his close working relationship with the
Vice President. Mary Matalin
worked with Libby as an adviser to Cheney during Bush's first term,
said of him "He is to the vice president what the vice president is
to the president."
active in the Defense Policy Board
Advisory Committee of the Pentagon when it was chaired by Richard Perle during the early years of the
(2001–2003). At various points in his career, Libby has
also held positions with the American Bar Association, been on
the advisory board of the RAND Corporation's
Center for Russia and Eurasia, and been a legal advisor to the United States House of
Representatives, as well as served as a consultant for the
defense contractor Northrop Grumman.
Libby was also actively involved in the Bush administration's
efforts to negotiate the Israeli-Palestinian "road map" for peace
; for example, he
participated in a series of meetings with Jewish
leaders in early December 2002 and a meeting with two aides of
then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
in mid-April 2003, culminating in the Red Sea Summit
on June 4, 2004. Former
(2001–2006), current Lord Chancellor
and Secretary of State for
Justice Jack Straw
said of Libby:
"It's a toss-up whether [he] is working for the Israelis or the
Americans on any given day."Qtd. by Geoffrey Wheatcroft, "A State
Like No Other:
Israel, Once Seen As a Refuge, Has Become One of
the Few Places Where Jews Are Attacked Simply for Being Jews",
("Geoffrey Wheatcroft on the troubled history of a homeland."),
The New Statesman
25, 2005, accessed June 30, 2007; a book review of Jacob's
Gift: A Journey into the Heart of Belonging
, by Jonathan Freedland
Hamilton, 2005), ISBN 0241142431; The Question of Zion
Princeton UP, 2005); and The Return of Anti-Semitism
Politico's, 2005); Wheatcroft quotes Straw:
....neoconservatism is an episode, an
important and interesting one, in the intellectual and political
history of Jewish America, and it is impudent to call anyone who
mentions this a bigot.
Schoenfeld suggests that only racist crackpots ever
query the commitment of senior Washington officials, but it was
Jack Straw, himself a descendant of
Jewish immigrants, who said of Lewis Libby, Vice-President Dick
Cheney's chief of staff: "It's a toss-up whether Libby is working
for the Israelis or the Americans on any given day."
Wheatcroft's book The Controversy of Zion: Jewish Nationalism,
the Jewish State, and the Unresolved Jewish Dilemma
Perseus Books, 1996), ISBN 0201562340 (10); ISBN 978-0201562347
(13), won a National Jewish Book Award (US); the former editor of
(UK), he is
also the author of The Strange Death of Tory England
(London: Allen Lane, 2005); ISBN 0713998016 (10); ISBN
978-0713998016 (13). That remark by Straw is quoted by New
editor John Kampfner
his book Blair's Wars
(New York: Simon & Schuster,
2003; London: Free Press, 2004); ISBN 0743248295 (10); ISBN
978-0743248297 (13); cf. Charles Grant, "Prospect: Blair's Five Wars"
, Centre for European
(UK), October 2003, accessed June 30, 2007 (6 pages):
Kampfner's book contains some wonderful
He describes how badly the Blair camp gets on with Vice-President Dick Cheney and his office, and particularly
with Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, who is close to Israel's Likud party.
In 2002, while Colin Powell
was having a difficult trip in the Middle East, he complained to
Jack Straw that Ariel Sharon always seemed to have advance
notice of the US position.
Kampfner reports that Straw later remarked, "It is a
toss up whether Libby is working for the Israelis or the Americans
on any given day."
In their highly-controversial and widely-contested "Working Paper"
entitled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy", University
of Chicago political science professor John J. Mearsheimer and academic dean of the John F. Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard University Stephen M.
argue that Libby was among the
Bush administration's most "fervently pro-Israel ... officials"
5, 2007, after Judge Reggie Walton
sentenced Libby, Jewish
Telegraphic Agency (JTA) Washington, D.C. bureau chief Ron Kampeas
observed that former Soviet dissident
and Israeli politician and writer Natan
Sharansky was one of many "Jews pleading leniency for Libby -
without success", and that Arye Genger, who served as a liaison
between Sharon and the Bush administration, credited Libby with
trying to reduce civilian casualties among Israelis and Palestinians during the second intifada. According to the
JTA, "Libby is Jewish, and
a significant portion of those who had pleaded with the judge for a
lenient sentence are leaders in Washington's Middle East policy
Awards for government service
Subsequent work experience
From January 2006 until March 7, 2007, the day after his conviction
in United States v. Libby
, when he resigned, Libby served
as a "senior advisor" at the Hudson
, focusing on "issues relating to the War on Terror
and the future of Asia
... offer[ing] research guidance and ...
advis[ing] the institute in strategic planning." His resignation
was announced by the Hudson Institute in a press release dated
March 8, 2007.
Involvement in the Plame affair
Between 2003 and 2005 intense speculation centered on the
possibility that Libby may have been the administration official
who had "leaked" classified employment information about Valerie E. Wilson
, the wife of Iraq war
critic Joseph Wilson
and a covert CIA
agent, to New York Times
reporter Judith Miller
and other reporters
and later tried to hide his having done so.
In August 2005, as revealed in grand jury testimony audiotapes
played during the trial and reported in many news accounts, Libby
testified that he met with Judith Miller
, a reporter with
the New York Times
, on July 8, 2003, and discussed Plame
with her.Although Libby signed a "blanket waiver" allowing
journalists to discuss their conversations with him pursuant to the
CIA leak grand jury
, Miller maintained that such a waiver did not
serve to allow her to reveal her source to that grand jury;
moreover, Miller argued that Libby's general waiver pertaining to
all journalists could have been coerced
that she would only testify before that grand jury if given an
After refusing to testify about her July 2003 meeting with Libby,
Judith Miller was jailed on July 7, 2005 for contempt of court.
Months later, however, her new attorney, Robert Bennett
, told her that she already
had possessed a written, voluntary waiver from Libby all
After Miller had served most of her sentence, Libby reiterated that
he had indeed given her a "waiver" both "voluntarily and
personally." He attached the following letter, which, when released
publicly, became the subject of further speculation about Libby's
possible motives in sending it:
As noted above, my lawyer confirmed my waiver to other
reporters in just the way he did with your lawyer.
Because as I am sure will not be news to you, the
public report of every other reporter's testimony makes clear that
they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me, or knew
about her before our call.
. . . .
You went to jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have
stories to cover – Iraqi elections and suicide bombers
, biological threats
and the Iranian nuclear
. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens
will already be turning. They turn in clusters,
because their roots connect them. Come back to work — and life.
Until then, you will remain in my thoughts and prayers.
With admiration, Scooter Libby.Lewis Libby, The New York Times
, September 15,
2005), accessed February 17, 2007.
After agreeing to testify, Miller was released on September 29,
2005, appearing before the grand jury the next day, but the charge
against her was rescinded only after she testified again on October
12, 2005. For her second grand jury appearance, Miller produced a
notebook from a previously-undisclosed meeting with Libby on June
23, 2003, two weeks before Wilson's New York Times
, "A Personal Account: My Four Hours Testifying in the
Federal Grand Jury Room"
, October 16, 2005, accessed March 23, 2008. In
her account published in the Times
on October 16, 2005,
based on her notes, Miller reports:
... in an interview with me on June 23 , Vice
President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I.
Lewis Libby, discussed Mr. Wilson's activities and
placed blame for intelligence failures on the C.I.A.
In later conversations with me, on July 8 and July 12
, Mr. Libby, ...
[at the time] Mr. Cheney's top aide, played down the
importance of Mr. Wilson's mission and questioned his
My notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published
his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have
worked on unconventional weapons at the C.I.A.
My notes do not show that Mr. Libby identified Mr.
Wilson's wife by name.
Nor do they show that he described Valerie Wilson as a
covert agent or "operative" ....
Her notation on her July 8, 2003 meeting with Libby does contain
the name "Valerie Flame [sic]", which she added retrospectively.
While Miller reveals publicly that she herself had misidentified
the last name of Wilson's wife (aka "Valerie Plame") in her own
marginal notes on their interview as "Flame" instead of "Plame", in
her grand jury (and later trial testimony), she remained uncertain
when, how, and why she arrived at that name and did not attribute
it to Libby:
I was not permitted to take notes of what I told the
grand jury, and my interview notes on Mr. Libby are sketchy in
It is also difficult, more than two years later, to
parse the meaning and context of phrases, of underlining and of
On one page of my interview notes, for example, I wrote
the name "Valerie Flame."
Yet, as I told Mr. Fitzgerald, I simply could not
recall where that came from, when I wrote it or why the name was
I testified that I did not believe the name came from
Mr. Libby, in part because the notation does not appear in the same
part of my notebook as the interview notes from him.
A year and a half later, a jury would convict Libby of obstruction
of justice and perjury in his grand jury testimony and making false
statements to federal investigators about when and how he learned
that Plame was a CIA agent.
Indictment and resignation
October 28, 2005, as a result of the CIA leak grand jury
Counsel Fitzgerald indicted Libby on five counts: one count of
obstruction of justice two counts of making false statements when
interviewed by agents of the FBI, and two counts of perjury in his testimony before
the grand jury. Pursuant to the grand jury investigation,
Libby had told FBI investigators that he first heard of Mrs. Wilson's
CIA employment from Cheney, and then later heard it from journalist
Tim Russert, and acted as if he did not
have that information.
The indictment alleges that
statements to federal investigators and the grand jury were
intentionally false, in that Libby had numerous conversations about
Mrs. Wilson's CIA
employment, including his
conversations with Judith
(see above), before speaking to Russert; Russert did not
tell Libby about Mrs. Wilson's CIA employment; prior to talking
with such reporters, Libby knew with certainty that she was
employed by the CIA; and Libby told reporters that she worked for
the CIA without making any disclaimer that he was uncertain of that
fact. The false statements counts in the Libby indictment charge
that he intentionally made those false claims to the FBI; the
perjury counts charge that he intentionally lied to the grand jury
in repeating those false claims; and the obstruction of justice
count charges that Libby intentionally made those false statements
in order to mislead the grand jury, thus impeding Fitzgerald's
grand jury investigation of the truth about the leaking of Mrs.
Wilson's then-classified, covert CIA identity.
Trial, conviction, and sentencing
On March 6, 2007, the jury convicted
on four of the five counts but acquitted
him on count three, the second charge of making
when interviewed by federal agents about his
conversations with Time
After being questioned by the FBI in the fall of 2003 and
testifying before a Federal grand jury on March 5, 2004, and again
on March 24, 2004, Libby pleaded not guilty to all five counts.
According to the Associated Press
, Cheney's legal
counsel, described a September 2003 meeting with Libby around the
time that a criminal investigation began, saying that Libby had
told him, "'I just want to tell you, I didn't do it'... I didn't
ask what the 'it' was.'"
Libby retained attorney Ted Wells
firm of Paul, Weiss,
Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
to represent him. Wells had
successfully defended former Secretary of
Agriculture Mike Espy
30-count indictment and had also participated in the successful
defense of former Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan
After Judge Reggie Walton
Libby's motion to dismiss
press initially reported that Libby would testify at the trial.
Libby's criminal trial
United States v.
, began on
January 16, 2007.
Despite earlier press reports and widespread ongoing speculations,
neither Libby nor Vice President Cheney testified. The jury began
deliberations on February 21, 2007.
After deliberating for 10 days, the jury rendered its verdict on
March 6, 2007. It convicted Libby on four of the five
counts against him: two counts of perjury, one count of obstruction
of justice in a grand jury investigation,
and one of the two counts of making false statements to federal
Comment on the verdict by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald
Speaking to the media outside the courtroom after the verdict,
Fitzgerald said that "The jury worked very long and hard and
deliberated at length ... [and] was obviously convinced beyond a
reasonable doubt that the defendant had lied and obstructed justice
in a serious manner. ... I do not expect to file any further
charges". The trial confirmed that the leak came first from
then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
Fitzgerald did not charge Armitage and expects to charge no one
else, Libby's conviction effectively ended the investigation.
In his October 28, 2005 press conference about the grand jury's
indictment, Fitzgerald had already explained that Libby's
obstruction of justice through perjury and false statements had
prevented the grand jury from determining whether the leak violated
During his media appearance outside the courtroom after the verdict
in the Libby case, Fitzgerald fielded questions from the press
about others involved in the Plame
and in the CIA leak grand jury
, such as Armitage and Cheney, whom he had already
described as "under a cloud", as already addressed in his conduct
of the case and in his closing arguments in court.Jeralyn Merritt
, "Fitz Closing in Libby; Cheney Is Under a Cloud"
(accredited press blog), February 24, 2007,
accessed June 8, 2007, observes that "Fitzgerald squarely blames
Libby for putting the cloud on the Vice President", quoting from
Fitzgerald's closing arguments, e.g.:
There is a cloud over the vice president. He sent Libby
off to [meet with former New York Times reporter] Judith Miller at
the St. Regis Hotel. At that meeting, the two hour meeting, the
defendant [Libby] talked about the wife [Plame]. We didn't put that
cloud there. That cloud remains because the defendant obstructed
justice and lied about what happened. ... He's put the doubt into
whatever happened that week, whatever is going on between the Vice
President and the defendant, that cloud was there. That's not
something that we put there. That cloud is something that we just
can't pretend isn't there.
Comment on the verdict by Libby's defense team
After the verdict, initially, Libby's lawyers announced that he
would seek a new trial, and that, if that attempt were to fail,
they would appeal Libby's conviction. Libby
did not speak to reporters.
Libby's defense team eventually decided against seeking a new
Given current federal sentencing guidelines, which are not
mandatory, the conviction could have resulted in a sentence ranging
from no imprisonment to imprisonment of up to 25 years and a fine
of $1,000,000; yet, as Sniffen and Apuzzo observe, "federal
sentencing guidelines will probably prescribe far less." In
practice, according to federal sentencing data, three-fourths of
the 198 defendants found guilty of obstruction of justice in 2006
served jail time. The average length of jail time on this charge
alone was 70 months.
On June 5, 2007, Judge Walton sentenced Libby to 30 months in
prison and fined him $250,000. According to Apuzzo and Yost, the
judge also "placed him on two years probation after his prison
sentence expires. There is no parole in the federal system, but
Libby would be eligible for release after two years." In addition,
Judge Walton required Libby to provide "400 hours of community
service" during his supervised release.
On June 5, 2007, after the announcement of Libby's sentencing,
CNN News reported that Libby still
"plans to appeal the verdict."
in response to the sentencing, Vice
President Cheney issued a statement in Libby's defense on
House website. The statement concluded: "Speaking
as friends, we hope that our system will return a final result
consistent with what we know of this fine man."
Prior to the sentencing, along with Natan Sharansky, as cited earlier, 173
others had sent Walton letters "plead[ing] for leniency" for
Joseph and Valerie Wilson posted their statement on Libby's
sentencing in United States
v. Libby on
Order to report to prison pending appeal of verdict
After the June 5 sentencing, Walton said he was inclined to jail
Libby after the defense laid out its proposed appeal, but the judge
told attorneys he was open to changing his mind"; however, on June
14, 2007, Walton ordered Libby to report to prison while his
attorneys appealed the conviction. Libby's attorneys asked that the
order be stayed, but Walton denied the request and told Libby that
he would have 10 days to appeal the ruling. In denying Libby's
request, which had questioned Fitzgerald's authority to make the
charges in the first place, Walton supported Fitzgerald's authority
in the case. He said: "'Everyone is accountable, and if you work in
the White House, and if it's perceived that somehow (you're) linked
at the hip, the American public would have serious questions about
the fairness of any investigation of a high-level official
conducted by the attorney general.'" The judge was also responding
to an Amicus curiae brief that he had
permitted to be filed, which had not apparently convinced him to
change his mind, as he subsequently denied Libby bail during his
appeal. His "order grant[ing] the [legal academic] scholars
permission to file their brief ... contained a caustic footnote
questioning the motivation of the legal academics and suggesting he
might not give a great deal of weight to their opinion[:]
It is an impressive show of public service when twelve
prominent and distinguished current and former law professors are
able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several
days to provide their legal expertise to the court on behalf of a
The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these
eminent academics' willingness in the future to step to the plate
and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous
litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of this
nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly
articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances
where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties,
incarceration, or worse.
The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such
assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of
justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases
that come before it."
Moreover, when the hearing started, "'in the interest of full
disclosure,'" Walton informed the court that he had "'received a
number of harassing, angry and mean-spirited phone calls and
messages. Some wishing bad things on me and my family,'" adding
"'Those types of things will have no impact. ... I initially threw
them away, but then there were more, some that were more hateful
... They are being kept.'"
New York Times reporters Neil Lewis and David Stout
estimated subsequently that Libby's prison sentence could begin
within "two months", explaining that
Judge Walton’s decision means that the defense lawyers
will probably ask a federal appeals court to block the sentence, a
It also sharpens interest in a question being asked by
Mr. Libby’s supporters and critics alike: Will President Bush
pardon Mr. Libby?
So far, the president has expressed sympathy for Mr.
Libby and his family but has not tipped his hand on the pardon
If the president does not pardon him, and if an appeals
court refuses to second-guess Judge Walton’s decision, Mr. Libby
will probably be ordered to report to prison in six to eight weeks’
Federal prison authorities will decide
"Unless the Court of Appeals overturns my ruling, he
will have to report", Judge Walton said.
Failure of Libby's appeal of order to begin prison
On June 20, 2007, Libby appealed Walton's ruling in federal appeals
court. The next day, Walton filed a 30-page expanded ruling, in
which he explained his decision to deny Libby bail in more detail.
On July 2, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
denied Libby's request for a delay and release from his prison
sentence, stating that Libby "'has not shown that the appeal raises
a substantial question' under federal law that would merit letting
him remain free", increasing "pressure on President George W. Bush
to decide soon whether to pardon Libby ... as the former White
House official's supporters have urged."
Soon after the verdict, calls for Libby to be pardoned by President George W. Bush
began to appear in some newspapers; some of them are posted online
by the Libby Legal Defense Trust. U.S. Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid issued a press release about
the verdict, urging President Bush to pledge not to pardon Libby,
and other Democratic politicians followed his lead.
Surveying "the pardon battle" and citing both pro and con
publications, The Washington
Post online columnist Dan
Froomkin concludes that many U.S. newspapers opposed a
presidential pardon for Libby. Much of this commentary obscured the
fact that the clemency power provided the President with several
options short of a full, unconditional pardon. In an op-ed
published in the The Washington
Post, former federal prosecutor and conservative activist
William Otis argued the
sentence was too stringent and that, instead of pardoning Libby,
President Bush should commute his sentence.
After the sentencing, President Bush stated on camera: "... [I]
will not intervene until Libby's legal team has exhausted all of
its avenues of appeal ... It wouldn't be appropriate for me to
discuss the case until after the legal remedies have run its
But, ultimately, less than a month later, on July 2, 2007, Bush
chose Otis's "third option" — "neither prison nor pardon" — in
commuting Libby's prison sentence.
After Libby was denied bail during his appeal
process on July 2, 2007, President Bush commuted Libby's 30-month federal
prison sentence, calling it "excessive", but he did not change the
other parts of the sentence and their conditions. That presidential
commutation left in place the felony conviction, the $ 250,000
fine, and the terms of probation. Some have criticized the move, as
presidential commutations rarely granted, but, when granted, they
generally occur after the convicted person has already served a
substantial portion of his or her sentence: "We can't find any
cases, certainly in the last half-century, where the president
commuted a sentence before it had even started to be served", said
former Justice Department pardon attorney Margaret
Colgate Love. Others, notable Cheney himself who argued that
Libby was unfairly charged by a politically-motivated prosecution,
believed that the commutation fell short, as Libby would likely
never practice law again.
At the time, President Bush explained his "Grant of Executive
Clemency" to Libby, in part, as follows:
- Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years
of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing
decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation
office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration
of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or
- I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the
prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am
commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to
spend thirty months in prison.
- My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a
harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through
his years of public service and professional work in the legal
community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also
suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant
fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences
of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public
servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.
Bush's explanation was written by Fred
F. Fielding, White House Counsel during the last two
years of Bush's presidency. According to a Time magazine
article published six months after Bush left office, Fielding
worded the commutation "in a way that would make it harder for Bush
to revisit it in the future...; [the] language was intended to send
an unmistakable message, internally as well as externally: No one
is above the law." The article suggested that there was a
fundamental difference between how Bush and Cheney viewed the "War
on Terror", with aides close to Bush feeling that Cheney had
mislead the President and damaged the administration's moral
character with the Plame leak.
Libby's lawyer, Theodore V. Wells, Jr. "issued a brief statement saying Mr.
Libby and his family 'wished to express their gratitude for the
president’s decision. ... We continue to believe in Mr. Libby’s
innocence,' Mr. Wells said."
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald,
however, took issue with Bush's description of the sentence as
'excessive,' saying it was 'imposed pursuant to the laws governing
sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. ... It
is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before
the bar of justice as equals,' Fitzgerald said. 'That principle
guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.'"
The day after the commuting of Libby's sentence, James Rowley
(Bloomberg News) reported that
President Bush has not ruled out pardoning Libby in the future and
that Bush's press spokesman, Tony Snow,
denied any political motivation in the commutation. Quoting Snow,
Rowley added: "'The president is getting pounded on the right because he didn't do a full
pardon.' If Bush were 'doing the weather-vane thing' he 'would have
done something differently.'"
Nevertheless, Democratic politicians'
responses stressed their outrage at what they called a disgraceful
abrogation of justice, and, that evening CNN
reported that Congressman John Conyers,
Michigan) announced that there would be a formal Congressional investigation of
Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence and other presidential
reprieves. The hearing on "The Use and Misuse of
Presidential Clemency Power for Executive Branch Officials" was
held by the United States House
Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Conyers, on July 11,
In his public statement accompanying his executive clemency
proclamation, President Bush stated that he believes the sentence
"harsh ... based in part on allegations never presented to the
jury", that "The reputation [Libby] gained through his years of
public service and professional work in the legal community is
forever damaged", and that "The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer,
public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting." Libby
paid the required fine of "$250,400, which included a 'special
assessment' of costs" that same day.
Just a few days later, however, Judge Walton questioned "whether
... [Libby] will face two years of probation, as [President Bush]
said he would", because the supervised release time is conditioned
on Libby's serving the prison sentence, and he "directed the
special prosecutor, Patrick J.
Fitzgerald, and ... [Libby's]
lawyers to file arguments on the point...." "If Judge Walton does
not impose any supervised release, it could undercut ... [Bush's]
argument that ... Libby still faced stiff justice." That issue was
resolved on July 10, 2007, clearing the way for Libby to begin
serving the rest of his sentence, the supervised release and 400
hours of community service.
In response to President Bush's justifications for clemency, liberal commentator Harlan J. Protass noted
that in Rita v.
States, the case of a defendant convicted of perjury in
front of a grand jury which had been
decided two weeks earlier by the U.S. Supreme
Court, the U.S. government had successfully argued that
sentences that fall within Federal Sentencing Guidelines
are presumed to be "reasonable", regardless of individual
Reportedly "outraged" by Bush's commutation of Libby's prison
sentence, on July 2, 2007, Wilson told CNN: "I
have nothing to say to Scooter Libby. ... I don't owe this
administration. They owe my wife and my family an apology for
having betrayed her. Scooter Libby is a traitor. Bush's action ...
demonstrates that the White House is corrupt from top to bottom."
He reiterated this perspective on the commutation in the House Judiciary
Committee hearing on July 11, 2007, vehemently protesting that
congressman was engaging in "yet a further smear of my wife's good
name and my good name."
According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted from July 6 to July
8, 2007, "most Americans disagree with President George W. Bush's
decision to intervene" on Libby's behalf in the case.
Several months after Bush's action, Judge Walton commented publicly
on it. He spoke in favor of applying the law equally, and said:
- The downside [of the commutation] is there are a lot of people
in America who think that justice is determined to a large degree
by who you are and that what you have plays a large role in what
kind of justice you receive....
Bush took no further action with respect to Libby's conviction or
sentence during his presidential term, despite entreaties from
conservatives that he should be pardoned. Two days after their term
expired, former Vice President Cheney expressed his regret that
Bush had not pardoned Libby on his last day in office.
Press coverage of Libby's trial
Blogs played a prominent role in the press
coverage of Libby's trial. Scott Shane, in his article "For Liberal
Bloggers, Libby Trial Is Fun and Fodder", published in The New
York Times on February 15, 2007, quotes Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, who
wrote that the trial was "the first federal case for which
independent bloggers have been given official credentials along
with reporters from the traditional news media." The trial was
followed in the mass media and engaged
the interest of both professional legal experts and the general
public. While awaiting the Judge's ruling pertaining to supervised
release and the "400 hours of community service that Judge Walton
imposed", for example, bloggers discussed the legal issues involved
in these non-commuted parts of Libby's sentence and their effects
on Libby's future life experiences.
Criticism of investigation
On August 28, 2006, Christopher Hitchens claimed that Richard Armitage was the
primary source of the Valerie Plame leak and that Fitzgerald knew
this at the beginning of his investigation. This was supported a
month later by Armitage himself, who claimed that Mr. Fitzgerald
had instructed him not to go public with this information.
Daily questioned Fitzgerald's truthfulness in an
editorial, stating "From top to bottom, this has been one of the
most disgraceful abuses of prosecutorial power in this country's
history...The Plame case proves [Fitzgerald] can bend the truth
with the proficiency of the slickest of pols."
In September 2008, Attorney Alan
Dershowitz cited the "questionable investigation[s]" of Scooter
Libby as evidence of the problems brought to the criminal justice
process by "politically appointed and partisan attorney
The Wilsons' civil suit
On July 13, 2006, Joseph and Valerie Wilson filed a civil lawsuit
against Libby, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and other unnamed senior White House
officials (among whom they later added Richard Armitage) for their
role in the public disclosure of Valerie Wilson's classified CIA
status. Judge John D. Bates dismissed the Wilson's lawsuit on
jurisdictional grounds on July 19, 2007. The Wilsons appealed
Bates's district-court decision the next day. Agreeing with the
Bush administration, the Obama Justice Department argues the
Wilsons have no legitimate grounds to sue. Melanie Sloan, one of
the Wilsons’ attorneys, said: "We are deeply disappointed that the
Obama administration has failed to recognize the grievous harm top
Bush White House officials inflicted on Joe and Valerie Wilson. The
government’s position cannot be reconciled with President Obama’s
oft-stated commitment to once again make government officials
accountable for their actions."
- "Biographies of White House Senior Staff: Lewis
States Department of State, February 2005. Archived by
web.archive.org. Accessed July 8, 2007.
- Bromell, Nick. "Scooter Libby and Me". The American Scholar
(Phi Beta Kappa) (Winter 2007).
Accessed June 8, 2007.
- –––. "Scooter's Tragic Innocence: Why My Friend
Scooter Libby Is Loyal to Bush, Cheney and an Arrogant
Administration Whose Values Are Not His Own". Salon, January 24, 2007. Accessed June 8,
2007. (Premium content; restricted access).
- Dickerson, John. "Who Is Scooter
Libby?The Secretive Cheney Aide at the Heart of the CIA Leak
Case". Slate, October 21,
2005. Accessed June 28, 2007.
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Accessed March 23, 2008.
- Garfield, Bob. "'Former New York Times Staffer Judith
Miller'". On the Media from
NPR, National Public
Radio, WCNY-FM, November 11, 2005.
Accessed March 5, 2007. (Transcript and RealAudio link.)
- "I. Lewis
'Scooter' Libby". Right Web (International Relations
Center). Last updated March 21, 2007. Accessed July 1,
- "Indictment" in United States of America
vs. I. Lewis Libby, also known as "Scooter Libby".
States Department of Justice, October 28, 2005. Accessed July 5,
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New York: Griffin, 2005. ISBN
0312284535 (10). ISBN 978-0312284534 (13).
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Watch for". Media
Matters for America, March 6, 2007. Accessed June 8,
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Public Radio, October 28, 2005. Accessed March 5,
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"Verdict in the Libby Trial". Transcript.
The Washington Post
("Live Online" discussion), March 6, 2007, 2:00–3:00 p.m., ET.
Accessed March 6, 2007. (Duration: one hour.) N.B.: "Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com
moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions
and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests
and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is
not responsible for any content posted by third parties."
- in "United States of America,
v. I. Lewis Libby, Defendant". Criminal No.
05-394 (RBW). United
States District Court for the District of Columbia, filed
January 10, 2007. Accessed February 10, 2007.
- "President Commutes Libby's Sentence: Calls 30-month
Term for Ex-Cheney Aide 'excessive'". Citizens
for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, July 3, 2007.
Accessed July 4, 2007.
- "Scooter Libby -- White House: Assistant to the
President and Chief of Staff to the Vice President". Archived White
House biography from 2004. Accessed February 10, 2007.
- Waas, Murray. "Cheney 'Authorized' Libby to Leak Classified
Journal, February 9, 2006. Accessed March 6, 2007.
- –––, ed., with Jeff Lomonaco. The United States v.
I. Lewis Libby. New York: Union Square Press
(imprint of Sterling
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(13). ("Edited & with reporting by Murray Waas" and with
research assistance by Jeff Lomonaco.)
- Weisman, Steven. "White House Is Pressing Israelis To Take
Initiatives in Peace Talks". The New York Times, April 17, 2003.
Accessed March 23, 2008.
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at Today's White House Briefing". Online posting. Citizens
for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), July
3, 2007. Accessed July 4, 2007. Online posting. "Ambassador
Joseph C. Wilson's Response ... " and
"Read more", Joseph and
Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust (Home page), n.d.
Accessed July 8, 2007. (Concerning President Bush's commutation of
Libby's prison sentence.)
- –––. "Statement in Response to Jury's Verdict in U.S.
v. I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby" (now outdated URL).
Press release. Originally posted online. Citizens
for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), March
6, 2007. Accessed March 6, 2007. Posted as "CREW
Statement on Libby Conviction: No Man Is Above the Law."
Citizens ^Blogging for Responsibility and Ethics in
Washington (blog), March 6, 2007. Accessed April 18, 2007.
Also posted as "Wilsons' Attorney Statement in Response to Jury's
Verdict in U.S. v. I.
Lewis 'Scooter' Libby". Joseph and
Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust, March 6, 2007, home
page. Accessed April 18, 2007.
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The Washington Post.
Accessed July 20, 2007.
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compiled by CNN Newsroom;
incl. interactive timeline in Case History. Updated
periodically. Accessed July 10, 2007. (Includes events relating to
Lewis Libby's federal trial.)
- "I L [sic] Lewis Libby". Listing for "I. Lewis Libby, Jr.", via
"For Lawyers > Ethics > Attorney Discipline > Attorney
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Accessed April 19, 2008.
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npr.org, February 7, 2007. Accessed February 17, 2007. (8
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concerning I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby broadcast on National Public Radio. Updated
periodically. Accessed July 10, 2007.
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web.archive.org, June 21, 2007. Website sponsored by
friends and supporters of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, which
incorporated links to a brief biography and "News" (Press releases;
news reports; "Legal Filings" and "Statements" relating to Libby's
defense in United States v.
Libby; only some links
archived). [Prior to Libby's dropping his appeal of his conviction,
this site was updated periodically. No longer active at when access
attempted on January 9, 2008.]
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pertaining to Libby published in The New York Times; incorporates:
"The Counts", a summary of the Libby trial verdict; "Diary of the Leak Trial", a graphical timeline; and
multimedia links. Accessed July 10, 2007.
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captions at The Washington
Post. Accessed July 17, 2007.