In what had be the most unsurprising legal verdict in a long time, the former chief of staff for Vice President Cheney, “Scooter” Libby was found guilty of lying and obstructing a leak investigation that reached into the highest levels of the White House. The verdict brings to a close the almost four year investigation into how CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity was leaked to the media. Libby is the highest ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid-1980s.

Libby could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines make it far more likely that he will receive a much lighter sentence. “We have every confidence Mr. Libby ultimately will be vindicated,” defense attorney Theodore Wells told a throng of reporters. “We believe Mr. Libby is totally innocent and that he didn’t do anything wrong.” Even though Libby was not original source of the leak, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that there will be no more charges filed in the case.

“The results are actually sad,” Fitzgerald said. “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.” The White House has already tried to spin the verdict as one that is not embarrassing for them. “I think that any administration that has to go through a prolonged news story that is unpleasant and one that is difficult, when you’re under the constraints and the policy of not commenting on an ongoing criminal matter, that can be very frustrating,” Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said.

This has to be a black eye for a President who campaigned on the idea of restoring honesty and integrity back to the White House. Libby is the fall guy here. The real leakers were others in the White House. I don’t think there was a conspiracy here, but Libby fell on the sword to protect others. It would not surprise me at all if one of President Bush’s final acts in office was a pardon of Libby. He has proven himself loyal to the White House, so one should be surprised if he is rewarded for his loyalty later.

 

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