Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby betrayed the public’s trust and deserves to spend 2 1/2 to 3 years in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said Friday.
Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and an assistant to President Bush, is the highest-ranking White House official convicted since the Iran-Contra affair two decades ago.
“Particularly in a case such as this, where Mr. Libby was a high-ranking government official whose falsehoods were central to issues in a significant criminal investigation, it is important that this court impose a sentence that accurately reflects the value the judicial system places on truth-telling in criminal investigations,” Fitzgerald wrote in court documents.
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has broad discretion over Libby’s fate. Walton faces two important questions: whether to send Libby to prison and, if so, whether to delay the sentence until his appeals have run out.
Libby’s lawyers have not filed their sentencing documents yet but are expected to ask that he receive no jail time. They have said that if Walton orders prison time, they will ask that Libby be allowed to remain free during appeals.
Libby was convicted in March of lying to investigators about what he told reporters regarding CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose 2003 exposure touched off the leak probe. Plame was identified in a newspaper column after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, began criticizing the Bush administration’s prewar intelligence on Iraq.
No one was charged with the leak itself, including the initial source of the disclosure, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
Libby’s lawyers have said he deserves to be pardoned, but the White House has been guarded about the issue. Top Democrats have urged Bush not to pardon him.
The government’s sentencing memo released late Friday includes the following”
— Regrettably, Mr. Libby chose the one option that the law prohibited: he lied. He lied repeatedly to FBI agents and in sworn grand jury testimony, and he lied about multiple facts central to an assessment of his role in the disclosure of Ms. Wilson?s CIA employment. He lied about when he learned of Ms. Wilson?s CIA employment, about how he learned of her CIA employment, about who he told of her CIA employment, and about what he said when he disclosed it. In short, Mr. Libby lied about nearly everything that mattered.
— More fundamentally, however, Mr. Libby?s lies corrupted a truth-seeking process with respect to an important investigation, and on behalf of which many others subordinated important public, professional, and personal interests. To minimize the seriousness of Mr. Libby?s conduct would deprecate the value that the judicial system places on the truthfulness of witnesses, and tempt future witnesses who face similar obligations to tell the truth to
question the wisdom and necessity of doing so.
— In this case, as is his right, Mr. Libby maintains that despite his conviction, he is totally innocent. He has expressed no remorse, no acceptance of responsibility, and no recognition that there is anything he should have done differently ? either with respect to his false statements and testimony, or his role in providing reporters with classified information about Ms. Wilson?s affiliation with the CIA.