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Libby found guilty in CIA leak trial

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/cia_leak_trial;_ylt=AmHfbF5a7roRxKG0iHlqRNKs0NUE Libby found guilty in CIA leak trial By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN and MATT APUZZO,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 6, 2007

      Libby found guilty in CIA leak trial

      By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN and MATT APUZZO, Associated
      Press Writers 28 minutes ago

      WASHINGTON - Once the closest adviser to Vice
      Dick Cheney, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted
      Tuesday of lying and obstructing a leak investigation
      that shook the top levels of the Bush administration.

      He is the highest-ranking White House official
      convicted in a government scandal since National
      Security Adviser John Poindexter in the
      Iran-Contra affair two decades ago.

      In the end, jurors said they did not believe Libby's
      main defense: that he hadn't lied but merely had a bad

      The CIA leak case focused new attention on the Bush
      administration's much-criticized handling of
      intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction
      in the run-up to the Iraq war. The case cost Cheney
      his most trusted adviser, and the trial revealed
      Cheney's personal obsession with criticism of the
      war's justification.

      Trial testimony made clear that President Bush
      secretly declassified a portion of the prewar
      intelligence estimate that Cheney quietly sent Libby
      to leak to Judith Miller of The New York Times in 2003
      to rebut criticism by ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson.
      Bush, Cheney and Libby were the only three people in
      the government aware of the effort.

      More top reporters were ordered into court — including
      Miller after 85 days of resistance in jail — to
      testify about their confidential sources among the
      nation's highest-ranking officials than in any other
      trial in recent memory.

      Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said the verdict
      closed the nearly four-year investigation into how the
      name of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, and her
      classified job at the CIA were leaked to reporters in
      2003 — just days after Wilson publicly accused the
      administration of doctoring prewar intelligence. No
      one will be charged with the leak itself, which the
      trial confirmed came first from then-Deputy Secretary
      of State Richard Armitage.

      "The results are actually sad," Fitzgerald told
      reporters after the verdict. "It's sad that we had a
      situation where a high-level official person who
      worked in the office of the vice president obstructed
      justice and lied under oath. We wish that it had not
      happened, but it did."

      One juror, former Washington Post reporter Denis
      Collins, said the jury did not believe Libby's main
      defense: that he never lied but just had a faulty
      memory. Juror Jeff Comer agreed.

      Collins said the jurors spent a week charting the
      testimony and evidence on 34 poster-size pages. "There
      were good managerial type people on this jury who took
      everything apart and put it in the right place,"
      Collins said. "After that, it wasn't a matter of
      opinion. It was just there."

      Libby, not only Cheney's chief of staff but also an
      assistant to Bush, was expressionless as the verdict
      was announced on the 10th day of deliberations. In the
      front row, his wife, Harriet Grant, choked out a sob
      and her head sank.

      Libby could face up to 25 years in prison when
      sentenced June 5, but federal sentencing guidelines
      will probably prescribe far less, perhaps one to three
      years. Defense attorneys said they would ask for a
      retrial and if that fails, appeal the conviction.

      "We have every confidence Mr. Libby ultimately will be
      vindicated," defense attorney Theodore Wells told
      reporters. He said that Libby was "totally innocent
      and that he did not do anything wrong."

      Libby did not speak to reporters.

      The president watched news of the verdict on
      television at the White House. Deputy press secretary
      Dana Perino said Bush respected the jury's verdict but
      "was saddened for Scooter Libby and his family."

      In a written statement, Cheney called the verdict
      disappointing and said he was saddened for Libby and
      his family, too. "As I have said before, Scooter has
      served our nation tirelessly and with great
      distinction through many years of public service."

      Wilson, whose wife left the CIA after she was exposed,
      said, "Convicting him of perjury was like convicting
      Al Capone of tax evasion or Alger Hiss of perjury. It
      doesn't mean they were not guilty of other crimes."

      Libby was convicted of one count of obstruction of
      justice, two counts of perjury to the grand jury and
      one count of lying to the FBI about how he learned
      Plame's identity and whom he told.

      Libby learned about Plame from Cheney in June 2003
      about a month after Wilson's allegations were first
      published, without his name, by New York Times
      columnist Nicholas Kristof.

      Prosecutors said Libby relayed the Plame information
      to other government officials and told reporters,
      Miller of the Times and Matt Cooper of Time magazine,
      that she worked at the CIA.

      On July 6, 2003, Wilson publicly wrote that he had
      gone to Niger in 2002 and debunked a report that Iraq
      was seeking uranium there for nuclear weapons and that
      Cheney, who had asked about the report, should have
      known his findings long before Bush cited the report
      in 2003 as a justification for the war. On July 14,
      columnist Robert Novak reported that Wilson's wife
      worked at the CIA and she, not Cheney, had suggested
      he go on the trip.

      When an investigation of the leak began, prosecutors
      said, Libby feared prosecution for disclosing
      classified information so he lied to investigators to
      make his discussions appear innocent.

      Libby swore that he was so busy he forgot Cheney had
      told him about Plame, and was surprised to learn it a
      month later from NBC reporter Tim Russert. He swore he
      told reporters only that he learned it from other
      reporters and could not confirm it.

      Russert, however, testified he and Libby never even
      discussed Plame.

      Libby blamed any misstatements in his account on flaws
      in his memory.

      He was acquitted of one count of lying to the FBI
      about his conversation with Cooper.

      Collins said jurors agreed that on nine occasions
      during a short period of 2003, Libby was either told
      about Plame or told others about her.

      "If I'm told something once, I'm likely to forget it,"
      Collins recalled one juror saying. "If I'm told it
      many times, I'm less likely to forget it. If I myself
      tell it to someone else, I'm even less likely to
      forget it."

      Libby is free pending sentencing. His lawyers will ask
      that he remain so through any appeal.


      Associated Press writer Natasha T. Metzler contributed
      to this report.
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