Libby Speaks at Sentencing Today

By: E&P Staff and The Associated Press Lawyers, politicians and pundits have had their say for years. Now, as former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby faces sentencing in the CIA leak trial, the world heard from someone new: Libby himself.

Shortly after 11:30 this morning, after his lawyers and a federal prosecutor had spoken for much of the morning, Libby stood up for himself. According to a site blogging the event,, Libby said the following, in their paraphrasing:

--My family and I appreciate considerations shown to us during this conviction. In all that time I have receieved nothing but kindness from Court's personnel, your honor's staff, court administrators, U.S. Marshalls, Court security officers, and probation officer. I am grateful. Now I realize fully Court must decide on punishment, I hope court will consider my whole life. Thank you your honor.

Libby had not spoken publicly about the case since his 2005 indictment on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Throughout his monthlong trial, and following his conviction in March, he always let his lawyers do the talking.

On Tuesday, however, before U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton hands down a sentence, he will ask the former vice presidential chief of staff whether he has anything to say.

Defense attorneys, who argue that Libby should not have to serve any jail time, have not said how Libby will respond. It's a delicate decision, one made more difficult because Libby has maintained his innocence and is appealing his conviction.

"The only thing any sentencing judge wants to hear is remorse, and if they don't think it comes from the heart or they think they're only sorry for getting caught, for losing their job, or for going to jail, it doesn't count," said Hugh Keefe, a Connecticut defense attorney who teaches trial advocacy at Yale University.

Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and assistant to President Bush, was convicted of lying to investigators about what he told reporters regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose identity was leaked to reporters in 2003 after her husband began criticizing the Bush administration's war policies.

Libby's lawyers say he should be given leniency because of his lengthy career in public service. They also note that nobody was charged with leaking Plame's identity and suggest that Libby should not be punished as if he was a leaker.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has asked that Libby serve up to three years in prison, in part because he has shown no remorse.

Libby "lied repeatedly and blatantly about matters at the heart of a criminal investigation concerning the disclosure of a covert intelligence officer's identity," Fitzgerald wrote in court documents. "He has shown no regret for his actions, which significantly impeded the investigation."

If Libby addresses the court and does not apologize, he risks reinforcing that image.

He can't offer too much of an apology, however, without jeopardizing his appeal. A general apology, one in which Libby expresses regret for the drawn-out litigation and the pain he's caused his family, leaves him exposed to another Fitzgerald attack for not showing genuine remorse.

"The alternative is, you risk just sitting there silent. What's the judge's reaction to that going to be?" said Michael E. Horowitz, a Washington defense attorney and former Justice Department official.

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan apologized-- generally speaking-- to voters last year at his corruption sentencing.

"When they elected me as the governor of this state, they expected better, and I let 'em down and for that I apologize," Ryan said before a judge sentenced him to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell said nothing at his sentencing for tax evasion last year and was ordered to spend 2 1/2 years in prison. Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling declared "I am innocent of these charges," before being sentenced to 24 years in prison for corporate fraud.

Walton has a reputation as a tough judge. If he sends Libby to prison, he must decide whether to put that sentence on hold while the appeal plays out.

If Walton grants such a delay, it would give Bush more time to consider a pardon for Libby.

The president has said he's going to stay out of it until the legal case is over, a decision that's harder if his former aide is headed to prison.


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