Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Story of the Day-United States v. Libby
United States of America v. I. Lewis Libby, also known as "Scooter Libby" (USA v. LIBBY, Case No. 1:2005-cr-00394-RBW) is the federal trial of former high-ranking George W. Bush administration official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was indicted by a federal grand jury on five felony counts of making false statements to federal investigators, perjury for lying to a federal grand jury, and obstruction of justice for impeding the course of a federal grand jury investigation concerned with the leaking by government officials of the classified identity of a covert agent of the CIA, Valerie Plame (Valerie E. Wilson). Libby served as assistant to President George W. Bush, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and assistant to the Vice President for national security affairs from 2001–2005. He resigned from his government positions hours after his indictment on October 28, 2005. The trial began on January 16, 2007. Pursuant to the grand jury leak investigation, Libby was convicted on March 6, 2007, on four counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements, and he was acquitted of one count of making false statements. Initially, his lawyers announced that they would be seeking a new trial but that, if they were not to get one, they would appeal Libby's conviction.Later they decided not to seek a new trial, but they still plan to appeal Libby's conviction. On June 5, 2007, Judge Reggie B. Walton sentenced Libby to 30 months in prison, a fine of $250,000, and "placed [him] on two years probation [supervised release] after his prison sentence expires."Libby appealed Judge Walton's subsequent order that he report to prison pending the appeal of his conviction. He lost the appeal of Walton's order two weeks later. Later on the same day, President Bush commuted Libby's sentence.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr.
I. (Irv) Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr. (born August 22, 1950) served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, assistant to the Vice President for national security affairs, and an assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He resigned from his senior White House position hours after he was indicted in federal court on five felony counts of obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury in the CIA leak grand jury investigation into the "Plame affair". In United States v. Libby, Libby was found guilty on four of the five counts and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, a fine of US$250,000, and two years of supervised release.
Libby is the first sitting White House official to be indicted in 130 years and "the highest-ranking White House official convicted in a government scandal since National Security Adviser John Poindexter in the Iran-Contra affair" in 1990.
Before being indicted, Libby was a licensed corporate lawyer, admitted to the bars of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (in Philadelphia). His licenses to practice law have been at least temporarily suspended in both jurisdictions, and in April 2007 the Washington, D.C. Office of Bar Counsel (DC Bar) disbarred him on legal grounds of "moral turpitude" and recommended to the DC Court of Appeals his permanent disbarment if his conviction is not overturned on appeal. At that time Libby's lawyers filed notification of his intention to appeal his conviction within ten days after his sentencing with the DC Bar.While Libby's appeal in United States v. Libby is still pending, the presiding judge, Reggie Walton, denied his request for a stay and ordered Libby to begin his prison sentence.Libby appealed Walton's ruling the following week. Two weeks later he lost that appeal, and President Bush commuted his prison sentence while leaving the other terms unchanged.
Irve Lewis "Scooter" Libby was the chief of staff and national security advisor to U.S. vice president Dick Cheney (2001-05) who was convicted in 2007 on five felony counts. Known in the media as "Dick Cheney's Dick Cheney," Libby was a behind-the-scenes Washington insider associated with influential foreign policy experts called "neo-cons" (neo-conservatives), a group whose post-Cold War strategy focused on the military supremacy of the United States and the political re-structuring of the Middle East. Libby is a graduate of Yale University (1972) and has a law degree from Columbia University (1975). In addition to practicing law, he has worked in government since 1981, when he joined Paul Wolfowitz (his former professor at Yale) at the Department of State under President Ronald Reagan. During the administration of George H.W. Bush, Libby worked for the Department of Defense, but during the Clinton years he worked for the U.S. House of Representatives and was the managing partner of the law firm Dechert, Price and Rhoads (1995-2001). Although Libby avoided the spotlight throughout most of his career, beginning in 2003 he and Karl Rove became central figures in rumor-filled news stories about Valerie Plame Wilson, the C.I.A. operative "outed" by columnist Robert Novak. On 28 October 2005 Libby was indicted by a grand jury and charged with obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements. After the indictments were announced, Libby resigned from his post. His trial on five felony counts began in January of 2007 and he was found guilty of four of the charges on 6 March 2007. In June of that year he was sentenced to 30 months in jail and fined $250,000. The next month, President George W. Bush used his presidential power to commute Libby's sentence, saying that Libby's conviction would stand but that he would not have to serve jail time.
Until his resignation in 2005, Libby also worked as Assistant to the President... Libby is the author of a novel, The Apprentice (1996)... Libby was the attorney for Marc Rich, the fugitive billionaire pardoned by President Clinton just before George W. Bush took office.
How Did 'Scooter' Libby Get That Nickname?
Libby has offered different explanations for his nickname. In 2002, he told The New York Times his father gave him the nickname after seeing him crawl across his crib. He has also said that the name comes from a comparison to former Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto.
How The Tale Unfolds
When I. Lewis Libby was a baby, his father saw him propelling himself around his crib, and declared, "He's a scooter!" A nickname was born that presaged Libby's rise to one of the most powerful posts in the White House and foreshadowed the quiet but deft maneuvering for which he earned a reputation. On Friday, Libby stepped down as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney after being indicted on five counts of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation into the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. Though he has been one of the most influential behind-the-scenes operatives in Washington, Libby remains unknown to many Americans. Just who is he?
In a statement following the resignation, Cheney called Libby "one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known." Since 2001, that talent has been at the disposal of the Vice President. Within the Administration, Libby, 55, is known as "Cheney's Cheney." But he also concurrently held, until today, the posts of Assistant to the President and National Security Adviser to the Vice President, titles that indicate his particular importance in the run-up to the Iraq war and in the debate over weapons of mass destruction that eventually led to Plamegate.
The Connecticut-born, Florida-raised Libby attended the elite Phillips Andover Academy. His road to Washington began in New Haven, Conn., where, as a Yale undergraduate, he studied under a political science professor named Paul Wolfowitz. He graduated from Yale in 1972, and went on to get his law degree at Columbia. After Ronald Reagan?s election in 1980, Wolfowitz recruited Libby to work for him at the State Department. Then, during George H.W. Bush's presidency, Libby went to work for Wolfowitz again, this time at the Defense Department, where Dick Cheney was in charge.
In 1992, disappointed that the Gulf War had not removed Saddam Hussein from power, Libby and Wolfowitz drafted a paper that broached a policy of pre-emptive action. That paper foreshadowed Libby's hawkish position on Iraq a decade later. After George W. Bush's election in 2000, Cheney tapped the like-minded Libby to be his right-hand man. In the months before the Iraq war, Libby, Cheney and Wolfowitz formed the core of an influential group of neoconservatives that pushed President Bush to remove Saddam Hussein from office. Their ideas and their respect were—and are—mutual. "I'm a great fan of the Vice President," Libby told Larry King in 2002. "I think he's one of the smartest, most honorable people I've ever met."
Libby's own smarts extend beyond politics. In 1996, while in private practice as an attorney in Washington, he published a novel called The Apprentice, about a young man named Setsuo in turn-of-the-century Japan who becomes enmeshed in a web of crime, political drama, and, of course, love. Of all the characters in the book, it's the mysterious object of Setsuo's affections—"the girl in the cloak"—who seems to parallel Libby most now. Publishers Weekly said in its review of The Apprentice that "her actions, history and motives remain ambiguous to the end."
In his 2002 talk with Larry King, Libby also discussed the prerogatives of the presidency and the opinion of Dick Cheney that certain things have to be handled away from the public view. "He firmly believes—believes to the point where, when he talks about it, his eyes get a little bluer—that for the presidency to operate properly, it needs to be able to have confidential communications," Libby said. The question now is whether some of Libby's own confidential communications will in fact hinder the presidency it was meant to help.
Born Irving Lewis Libby, Jr. on August 22, 1950 in Connecticut, "Scooter" Libby was the Chief of Staff to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, and also served as the Vice President's assistant for National Security Affairs.
Libby resigned from his top-level position after a five-count indictment was handed down charging him with obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury.
Before a pardon by President Bush on July 2, 2007 that effectively commuted his sentence, Libby would have faced 2 1/2 years in prison after having been found guilty of 4 out of the 5 charges leveled against him in the Valerie Plame case, in what is widely believed to be part of the Bush administration's push to silence critics of the Iraq war.
The Valeire Plame Affair
Throughout 2005, rumors in Washington had centered around the possibility that either Libby or Karl Rove, a trusted advisor to President George W. Bush, may have been the administration official who "outed" Valerie Plame.
Plame was an undercover CIA agent and wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who in 2003 wrote a New York Times guest editorial condemning false allegations by the administration in their bid to invade Iraq.
The Libby trial, begun in January 2007, included testimony by NBC commentator Tim Russert and former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer in an effort to ascertain who was involved in the leak.
Libby's Republican base had initiated a defense fund at ScooterLibby.com as special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald promised to introduce into evidence Libby's assertion to the grand jury that he made public Valerie Plame's undercover status under authorization by his superiors.
Sometimes referred to as a Washington enigma for the few details known about his personal life, Libby earned his BA from Yale and took his law degree at New York's Columbia University.
He later practiced law in Philadelphia, and subsequently accepted a job offer from his Yale political science professor, Paul Wolfowitz, to work at the State Department from 1981 to 1985.
He then entered private practice for several years before returning to Washington to work again under Wolfowitz at the Pentagon as principal deputy under-secretary of defense for strategy and resources.
For his government service Libby was awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Award and the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award. He also received the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Award for Public Service.
Libby stayed on in Washington in the early 90's to serve as legal advisor for the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China.
In 1995, he again left government service to become a managing partner at the the law firm of Dechert, Price and Rhoads, where he worked until 2001, when Vice President Cheney named him chief of staff and national security adviser.
In Washington circles, Libby is best known for his co-authoring the Project for the New American Century, promoting a more global role for the U.S. in the post-Cold War era stating that "American leadership is good both for America and for the world."
Libby is also the author of a successful novel, The Apprentice, published in 1996, about a group of strangers brought together inside a small inn while a blizzard rages outside.
He currently lives in McLean, Virginia with his two children and wife, Harriet Grant, a former lawyer on the Democratic staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Who Is Scooter Libby?
The secretive Cheney aide at the heart of the CIA leak case.
Who is I. Lewis Libby? The not-Karl-Rove character at the center of the CIA leak investigation is so mysterious he hides his first name. Rove we know: He's Bush's political id—a self-taught master of political hardball, a brash Texan who has plotted the president's advance for 25 years.
The adviser universally known as "Scooter" represents the other side of the Bush administration: the secret undisclosed side. Like the vice president he works for, Libby prefers to work on policy in the shadows and leave the politics to others. Unlike Rove, or even fellow neocons Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, Libby rarely speaks on the record; he almost never gives public speeches. Unlike the Texas gang, he doesn't boast at being an anti-intellectual and is in fact proud of his intellectual credentials. "Lewis Libby is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University School of Law," reads the blurb under his picture on the back flap of his book, a historical novel about Japan at the turn of the 20th century.
If these two men are so different, why are Rove's and Libby's names now spending so much time in the same sentence? Both are under investigation by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for telling reporters that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked at the CIA after Wilson challenged the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein sought to buy unenriched uranium from Niger. Though there is still much we do not know about their actions, one thing we can say is that the two were almost certainly leaking for different reasons. Rove's principal instinct would have been to knock back a threat to Bush's political standing. Libby's natural urge would have been to push back against the CIA with whom he and his boss had been waging an ongoing war over the intelligence that led to the war itself, a war for which he was a key proponent, and in which he continues to deeply believe.
According to one report, Libby became so obsessed with knocking back Wilson's claims, White House advisers had to step in. Arguing the point would only keep the charges alive and harm the president politically.
"Everything you know about Cheney you know about Scooter," says one who worked with him closely. That means that Libby is discreet, big-thinking, detail-oriented, and addicted to action over show. Libby is not only chief of staff but the vice president's top foreign-policy adviser. In the rare photos of Bush's war counsel, Libby can be seen in the background. He particularly shares his boss' fixation on external nuclear and bioterrorism threats. When Cheney was tasked with preparing a homeland security plan before the 9/11 attacks, it was Libby who handled it. He was minutes away from a meeting on the final report when the planes hit the World Trade Center.
Libby is a neocon's neocon. He studied political science at Yale under former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and began working with his former teacher under Cheney at the Defense Department during the George H.W. Bush administration, thinking about grand national security strategy in the post-Cold War era. When a document outlining their thinking leaked to the New York Times, the foreign policy establishment, including many of the more moderate voices in the first Bush administration, howled at its call for pre-emptive action against nations developing weapons of mass destruction. After 9/11, what was once considered loony became the Bush Doctrine.
Libby is not political in the glad-handing way—he looks as lost as Cheney at Republican Lincoln Day dinners. But he plays internal politics with force and lack of emotion. If the State Department under Colin Powell hated Dick Cheney, it hated Scooter almost as much, viewing him accurately as a pre-eminent member of the cabal hellbent for war with Iraq. It was Libby who sat with Powell in the final session before Powell's U.N. speech, eyeing every detail to make sure that the Secretary of State didn't water down the case. When Libby talked privately to friends about his rivals at State during the Powell era, it often sounded like the head of one political party speaking about the other, ascribing the worst motives and rarely giving Powell's team the benefit of the doubt.
Now no one is giving Libby the benefit of the doubt, at least in interpreting his mysterious jailhouse note to Judy Miller. That letter ended with a personal passage that seemed to cry out for accompaniment by moody background music: "You went into 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 program. 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."
Was this a hint to Miller about staying on the same page—either with her journalistic colleagues who seem to have backed Libby's story to the grand jury, or with her fellow former believer in Saddam's WMD stockpiles? Patrick Fitzgerald certainly wanted to know if Libby was trying to coach the reluctant witness to bolster his own case. Libby helpfully pointed out earlier in the letter that "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."
Or, Scooter may have been playing with coded meanings that most of us are too dull to see. This suspicion arises naturally because of Libby's connection with Straussianism. Leo Strauss, the German-Jewish political philosopher, is seen by many as one of the intellectual fathers of neoconservatism. Wolfowitz, Libby's teacher at Yale, was a graduate student at the University of Chicago during Strauss' ascendancy, and Libby won membership into that conservative club via Wolfowitz. Part of Strauss' teaching is that ancient philosophers wrote on two levels: for the mumbling masses, but also, and often in contradiction of the literal message, on an "esoteric" level that only initiates could make out. Some Straussians have adopted this code themselves. So, where Homer Simpson would interpret Libby's note as ham-handed fawning over Judy, a Straussian close reader might discern something more devious: a literary file in the cake for both of them.
It's surprising, in any case, to find Libby is at the center of a press scandal. The daily communications operation is not something he cares much about. Rove, by contrast, spends a portion of every day running his own press operation. He sends BlackBerry messages, forwards polling data, and argues his case to influential journalists. Libby flies at a higher altitude, talking mostly to marquee columnists and preferring longer and more in-depth conversations to the rat-a-tat-tat required by reporters on deadline.
Libby does enjoy the intellectual cat-and-mouse game of longer form interviews, those who have worked with him say. He challenges basic assumptions and presses on a reporter's sloppy definitions. In my experience interviewing him, if a line of reasoning was in any way harmful to the administration or the vice president, it was sometimes impossible to get past the gorilla dust. His shimmy and shake sometimes got so bad, I wondered if he would even admit to working for the vice president. "It's very lawyerly kind of amusement," says a former aide.
When the Cheneys hosted a party in February 2002 for the paperback publication of Libby's book, the guest list was not filled with workaday journalists, but with the elite from New York and Washington: Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee, Leon Wieseltier and Maureen Dowd. In those early days after 9/11, it seemed like the relationship between the press and the media elite might turn out to be a fairly cozy one. The Bushies hated "old Washington," but as Libby and the vice president spoke from the landing at the bottom of the stairs, it seemed as if their half of the administration understood the quiet commerce between the ruling elite and the more permanent Washington establishment. Maureen Dowd, who was invited to that party, ended that fantasy.
Libby is fussy and precise with reporters, which is why friends and colleagues find it so hard to believe that he would have been involved in leaking Plame's identity, obstructing justice, or committing perjury. Libby was an exacting source for anyone who talked to him. After using a Libby quote, it was not unusual for reporters to receive a call from the vice president's press shop. Mr. Libby wanted to know why only a portion of his comment was used. "He would prefer that if a reporter was going to quote him that it be an unedited transcript," says one who worked closely with him. Other reporters were scolded if a Libby quote hidden under the attribution of "senior administration official" was placed near sentences that he thought might identify him, even if no reasonable reader could come to such a conclusion. In other words, he's as careful as they come in Washington.
Those who know him say that if you're going to be stuck in an undisclosed location with somebody, Scooter Libby isn't a bad choice. He can do tequila shots on the saddle-shaped seats of the Wyoming bar near the vice president's vacation house and deconstruct poetry afterward. He is also athletic. He skis, plays in a regular touch football game, and rode a mountain bike so hard one time at an AEI retreat, he fell and broke his collar bone. Once, at one of the undisclosed locations, he helped the Cheney grandchildren play pretend-Halloween, answering the door to the tricksters and handing out candy as if they were in their own neighborhood.
A man who likes to stay out of the limelight knows something about disguises. But I. Lewis Libby appears to be on the verge of losing the option of a low profile for good. If Fitzgerald announces his indictment, "Irving" will soon become a household name.
Libby found guilty
The prosecutor of the Libby trial on the verdict
Timeline: The CIA Leak Case
Syndicated columnist Robert Novak identified Valerie Plame as a CIA operative in a column published in July 2003 — not long after Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, criticized the White House for exaggerating evidence in its push to justify going to war against Iraq. Novak said two unnamed administration sources had identified Plame to him.
That revelation sparked a two-year-long investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into who disclosed the covert agent's identity. In October 2005, Fitzgerald indicted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then-chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, on charges of obstruction of justice, false statement and perjury in the CIA leak case. Libby resigned from his post and pleaded not guilty to the five counts against him. But a jury found Libby guilty on four of the five counts, convicting him of obstruction, perjury and lying to the FBI. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000.
However, on July 2, 2007, President Bush stepped into the politically charged case by commuting Libby's prison sentence. Libby will not have to serve time behind bars, but he must still pay the fine and serve two years probation.
Following is a timeline of how the CIA leak case has evolved:
February 2002: Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson travels to Niger at the CIA's request to check for evidence that Iraq bought uranium "yellowcake" from the African country that could be used for production of a nuclear weapon.
Jan. 28, 2003: President Bush delivers his State of the Union address. In the speech he includes the following sentence: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Those 16 words contradicted what Wilson had reported upon his return from Niger to check out the claim. Months later they would be retracted by the White House.
March 20, 2003: The invasion of Iraq begins.
May 6, 2003: The New York Times publishes a column by Nicholas Kristof disputing the accuracy of the 16 words in the president's State of the Union address. The column reports that, following up on a request from the vice president's office, an unnamed ambassador investigated the allegations regarding Iraq's efforts to buy uranium from Niger. Kristoff writes that in early 2002, the ambassador had reported to the CIA and State Department that the allegations were unequivocally wrong.
July 6, 2003: Wilson's op-ed column, "What I Didn't Find in Africa," is published in The New York Times. In it he concludes, "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."
July 7, 2003: President Bush boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington en route to Dakar, Senegal. It is the start of a weeklong tour of the continent that become overshadowed by questions about alleged Iraqi WMD.
Also onboard is a top-secret briefing book containing a memo prepared by the State Department identifying Valerie Wilson (Plame's married name) as a CIA officer and as the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
July 9, 2003: Speaking to a White House press pool in Pretoria, South Africa, the second stop on the president's Africa tour, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says the State of the Union address should not have included the reference to Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium from Niger. Fleischer says: "With the advantage of hindsight, it's known now what was not known by the White House prior to the speech. This information should not have risen to the level of a presidential speech."
July 14, 2003: Robert Novak, in his syndicated commentary, reveals that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA operative. Novak attributes the information to "two senior administration officials."
July 17, 2003: Time magazine publishes an online article by Matthew Cooper, Massimo Calabresi, and John F. Dickerson indicating that government officials had disclosed Plame's identity to them.
July 22, 2003: At a White House news briefing, McClellan, when asked about the administration leaking Plame's name, states: "That is not the way this president or this White House operates."
Sept. 14, 2003: Vice President Cheney, on NBC's Meet the Press, is asked if he had been briefed on Wilson's findings when Wilson returned from Niger. Cheney responds: "No. I don't know Joe Wilson. I've never met Joe Wilson." Cheney adds moments later, "I don't know who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.
Sept. 16, 2003: McClellan calls "totally ridiculous" the allegation that presidential adviser Karl Rove was the source of the leak.
Sept. 28, 2003: CIA Director George J. Tenet calls on the Justice Department to investigate the leak.
Sept. 29, 2003: McClellan reiterates his earlier defense of Rove, adding that he had spoken to Rove about the leak.
Sept. 30, 2003: The Justice Department launches a full criminal investigation into the leaking of Plame's name. President Bush, speaking to reporters in Chicago, says, "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of..."
Oct. 24, 2003: FBI agents begin interviewing White House administration officials about the leak. Interviewees include Karl Rove and Scott McClellan.
Dec. 30, 2003: Attorney General John Ashcroft recuses himself from the leak investigation and U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald takes over the probe.
Jan-Feb 2004: A federal grand jury questions White House administration officials, including Scott McClellan, Mary Matalin and Adam Levine.
May 21, 2004: Tim Russert, host of NBC's Meet the Press, and Time's Cooper are subpoenaed for the grand jury investigation. Both Time and NBC say that they would fight the subpoenas.
June 18, 2004: White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales testifies before the federal grand jury.
June 24, 2004: Prosecutors question President Bush in the Oval Office. The questioning takes over an hour, and the president is not under oath.
Aug. 9, 2004: Cooper, refusing to reveal his confidential source, is held in contempt of court and ordered to jail by a federal judge in Washington. Judge Thomas F. Hogan also orders Time to pay $1,000 per day until the source is revealed. The decision is stayed pending an appeal.
Aug. 12, 2004: New York Times reporter Judith Miller is subpoenaed by a grand jury.
Aug. 24, 2004: The order to jail Cooper is canceled after he submits to questioning by Justice Department prosecutors.
Oct. 7, 2004: Miller is held in contempt of court for refusing to name confidential sources. Miller has not published any articles about the Plame case. Judge Hogan stays the order pending appeals.
Oct. 13, 2004: Cooper is again held in contempt of court for refusing to identify a confidential source who informed him about Plame's identity.
Oct. 15, 2004: Rove testifies before a federal grand jury for two hours. Fitzgerald assures Rove that he is not a target of the probe.
June 27, 2005: The U.S. Supreme Court declines to review appeals by Cooper and Miller.
June 30, 2005: Time agrees to turn over Cooper's notes and e-mails.
July 3, 2005: The Washington Post reports that Karl Rove spoke with Matthew Cooper in July 2003 when Cooper was reporting on Plame's husband. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, states, "Karl did nothing wrong."
July 6, 2005: Miller is jailed for refusing to reveal her confidential source. Judge Hogan declares that she was "defying the law." The same day, Cooper agrees to cooperate with the investigation, saying his confidential source granted him permission to comply.
July 10, 2005: Newsweek cites Rove as Cooper's source for the leak.
July 11, 2005: During a contentious White House press briefing, McClellan is asked to reconcile his statements from 2003 that Rove had no involvement in the leak with new revelations that Rove had spoken to reporters about Plame. McClellan refuses to discuss the matter, citing the ongoing investigation.
July 12, 2005: The White House says President Bush continues to have confidence in Rove.
July 15, 2005: Rove attorney Robert Luskin tells the Associated Press that Rove made three appearances before the grand jury and answered all questions. Luskin also says he has been assured that his client is not a target of the investigation.
July 17, 2005: In Time magazine, Matt Cooper discusses his testimony before the grand jury investigating the leak. He says Rove never referred to Valerie Plame by name, but that Cooper did learn from that conversation with Rove that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and was involved in WMD issues.
July 18, 2005: President Bush, during a White House appearance with India's Prime Minister Singh is asked if, regardless of whether a crime was committed, he still intends to fire anyone found to be involved in the CIA leak case. The president replies that if someone "committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."
Aug. 4, 2005: Novak swears in disgust and walks off the set of CNN's program Inside Politics in response to a comment from Democratic strategist James Carville. Carville tells viewers that he thinks Novak is trying to "show these right-wingers that he's got a backbone." The two were discussing U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), and Carville's comment was unrelated to the CIA leak investigation. But CNN correspondent Ed Henry said he was about to ask Novak about the CIA leak case when the columnist walked off the set.
Aug. 5, 2005: Novak apologizes for walking off the set of Inside Politics but says it had "absolutely nothing" to do with the CIA leak probe. "I was sorry he said that," Novak said of CNN's Ed Henry.
Sept. 29, 2005: Reporter Judith Miller is released from the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia. Editors at The New York Times say she reached a deal with U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald to testify. The editors say her source in the leak probe offered assurances that he wanted her to testify and was not coerced into releasing her from a promise of confidentiality.
Sept. 30, 2005: The Times identifies Miller's source as I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. In Washington, Miller testifies before the grand jury. Afterwards, she declines to confirm that Libby was her source, but says the source sent her a letter and called her in prison. "I concluded from this that my source genuinely wanted me to testify," she says.
Oct. 14, 2005: Presidential adviser Karl Rove makes his fourth appearance before the federal grand jury. Rove's appearance was voluntary, but at the request of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. In a statement afterwards, Rove's lawyer Robert Luskin said Fitzgerald "has not advised Mr. Rove that he is a target of the investigation and affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges. The special counsel has indicated that he does not anticipate the need for Mr. Rove's further cooperation."
Oct. 16, 2005: In a New York Times article recounting her testimony before the grand jury, Judith Miller writes that notes of her conversations with Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, suggested that the two had discussed Plame's job at the CIA but not her name. Miller wrote Plame's name in the same notebook she used when taking notes during her interviews with Libby, but said she cannot remember who gave her the CIA operative's name.
Oct. 25, 2005: Citing lawyers connected to the case, The New York Times reports that Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about Plame from a conversation with Cheney in the weeks before her identity became public in 2003. Libby's notes from that conversation, which took place June 12, 2003, contradict Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he first learned about Plame from journalists, lawyers told the paper. The previously undisclosed notes are now in the possession of prosecutors.
Oct. 28, 2005: Vice presidential adviser I. Lewis Libby is indicted on obstruction of justice, false statement and perjury charges in the CIA leak case. Libby resigns as Vice President Cheney's chief of staff.
Nov. 3, 2005: Libby pleads not guilty in federal court to the five-count indictment against him.
Nov. 15, 2005: Washington Post editor Bob Woodward testifies that a "senior administration official" told him about Valerie Plame and her job at the CIA nearly a month before she was first named in Robert Novak's column. The revelation would make the source, who Woodward refused to identify, the first official to reveal Plame's identity to a reporter.
April 26, 2006: Presidential adviser Karl Rove testifies for a fifth time before a grand jury. Fitzgerald says he is investigating whether Rove lied or obstructed justice in failing to initially disclose his conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. Rove blamed a faulty memory.
June 13, 2006: A lawyer for Rove says his client has been informed by prosecutors he won't be charged with any crimes in the investigation, ending months of speculation.
January 6, 2007: Libby's criminal trial begins.
February 21, 2007: Jury receives case for deliberation.
March 6, 2007: Jury returns guilty verdict on four of five counts, convicting Libby of obstruction, perjury and lying to the FBI.
June 5, 2007: Libby is sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000.
June 14, 2007: U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton denies request to delay Libby's sentence.
July 2, 2007: A federal appeals court rejects Libby's request to remain free on bail while pursuing appeals — meaning Libby would likely have to report to prison soon. Hours later, President Bush commutes Libby's prison sentence, leaving the $250,000 fine and two years probation intact. "I respect the jury's verdict," Bush says in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive."
Countdown Coverage of Scooter Libby Commutation
Bush Spares Libby Prison
Bush Commutes Prison Term of Former White House Aide I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby
Hours after an appeals court shot down a final appeal to keep I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby out of prison pending the appeal of his conviction, President Bush commuted his sentence.
"I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive," Bush's statement read. "Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison."
A federal jury found Libby guilty March 6 on charges that he'd lied to the FBI and a grand jury, and obstructed justice in the investigation into the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame, a former covert CIA operative. The appeal that was rejected Monday -- the final attempt to delay the start of Libby's sentence -- cleared the way for the former aide to start serving a 2½ sentence before the end of the summer.
Libby's attorneys had asked a federal appeals court to keep Libby out of prison until the appeal of his conviction was resolved, arguing that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald did not have the proper authority to bring the case against Libby, and that the judge in the case did not allow witnesses who were key to the defense to testify during the trial.
ABC News contacted Libby attorney William Jeffress, who said, "We continue to believe the conviction itself was unjust but are grateful for the president's action commuting the prison sentence."
Presidential Intervention Was Expected
There had been wide speculation that the president would pardon the former aide to the vice president, but after Libby's conviction, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called talk of a pardon "wildly hypothetical."
After a ruling last month denying Libby's first request to stay out of prison on appeal Perino said, "Scooter Libby still has the right to appeal, and therefore the president will continue not to intervene in the judicial process. The president feels terribly for Scooter, his wife and their young children, and all that they're going through."
But after Monday's denial of a last-ditch appeal to keep Libby out of prison failed, the questions over a pardon or commutation intensified.
Bush's move is not a full pardon of Libby's sentence -- originally set by federal Judge Reggie Walton as the 30 months in prison he was on track to serve, plus $250,000 in fines, and two years' probation following the completion of the prison term. The president can issue a full pardon at a later date if he chooses to.
"He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect," Bush's statement noted. "The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant and private citizen will be long-lasting.
Of the commutation, Cheney's office released a statement saying, "The vice president supports the president's decision." But after Libby's June 5 sentencing, Cheney had warm words for his former aide.
"I have always considered him to be a man of the highest intellect, judgment and personal integrity -- a man fully committed to protecting the vital security interests of the United States and its citizens."
"Speaking as friends, we hope that our system will return a final result consistent with what we know of this fine man," Cheney said.
Not a Pardon, but Critics Slam Bush's Move
Critics of the move were quick to respond to the news.
"First, President Bush said any person who leaked would no longer work in his administration. Nonetheless, "Scooter" Libby didn't leave office until he was indicted and Karl Rove," a top political adviser, "works in the White House even today," Melanie Sloan, counsel to Valerie Plame and Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, said in a statement.
"Clearly, this is an administration that believes leaking classified information for political ends is justified and that the law is what applies to other people," Sloan's statement concluded.
Prosecutors had argued Libby helped lead a campaign to refute and discredit Wilson after he criticized the Bush administration's case for war against Iraq in a blistering opinion piece in The New York Times.
In the op-ed, Wilson stated bluntly, "Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."
The Wilsons have filed a civil suit against Cheney, Rove, Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage for damages resulting from the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's name. She has since resigned from the CIA.
The sentiments in Sloan's statement were echoed by Democrats on Capitol Hill.
"As Independence Day nears, we are reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., added, "Until now, it appeared that the president merely turned a blind eye to a high ranking administration leaking classified information. The president's action today makes it clear that he condones such activity."
Special Counsel Fitzgerald issued a statement on the president's decision as well. "We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative. We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as 'excessive.' The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.
Although the President's decision eliminates Mr. Libby's sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process."
Fitzgerald Questions Whether Equal Justice Prevails in Libby Case
CHICAGO Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the Republican-appointed federal prosecutor in the Plame/CIA leak case, released a brief statement tonight, after President Bush commuted the prison sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
It read: "We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative.
"We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as 'excessive.' The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.
"Although the President’s decision eliminates Mr. Libby’s sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process.”
Does outrage over Libby have an outlet?
Commutation of sentence seems unlikely to have consequences for Bush
WASHINGTON - The spectacular pardon or reprieve has become a reliable end-of-presidency event. As he was about to leave office in 1992, George H.W. Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and other officials convicted in the Iran-contra affair.
Six years ago, during his final hours in the White House, Bill Clinton pardoned fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose ex-wife Denise had given generously to Clinton’s campaigns and to his presidential library.
The most famous case, President Ford’s pardon of former President Nixon, was a presidency-ending event in another sense — it led directly to Ford’s defeat in the 1976 election.
President Bush’s commutation of the 30-month prison sentence of former vice presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby fit the pattern set by his predecessors.
And the reaction to these acts of clemency had a familiar ring.
Compare “the arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking” to the statement that the president “will never live down the arrogance of his final departure.”
'Arrogance' then and now
The first “arrogance” quote came Monday from Democratic presidential contender Bill Richardson. The second quote came from Jim Webb, now the Democratic senator from Virginia, criticizing Clinton’s pardon of Rich in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in 2001.
On Monday, Democratic presidential contender Sen. Joe Biden called on “all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law.”
Flooding the switchboards with outrage did seem to work last week in persuading senators to kill the immigration bill that Bush supported.
But in the Libby case, the deed, now done, can not be undone. The Constitution allows Congress no remedy, no repeal of a presidential pardon or commutation.
After Ford pardoned Nixon, then-Sen. Walter Mondale, D-Minn., proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would have allowed a pardon to be over-ridden by a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate.
Some in Congress revived that idea in 2001 after Clinton’s pardon of Rich and others. But in a week or two the fury subsided and the idea was forgotten.
Not a pardon
For those members of Congress who voiced shock or disappointment Monday, it was no solace that Bush only commuted Libby’s sentence.
Bush did not pardon Libby, thus making him innocent in the eyes of the law. Instead he acknowledged his offense and erased his prison sentence as excessive.
Impeachment remains a possibility, but impeachment of whom?
Bob Novak on Scooter Libby Verdict
FOX News "Debates" Libby Verdict
Bill Maher discusses Scooter Libby Verdict