Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fitzgerald Playing Hard Ball On Libby Sentencing

Former top Bush administration aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby should spend 30 to 37 months in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald contended in court documents filed yesterday.

Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, has shown no remorse for lying to investigators and "about virtually everything that mattered" in the probe of who disclosed the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame to the media in 2003, Fitzgerald wrote.

"Mr. Libby, a high-ranking public official and experienced lawyer, lied repeatedly and blatantly about matters at the heart of a criminal investigation concerning the disclosure of a covert intelligence officer's identity," Fitzgerald said in court papers. "He has shown no regret for his actions, which significantly impeded the investigation."

Libby was convicted in March of obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury, becoming the highest-ranking White House official convicted of a crime since the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal.

His sentencing is scheduled for June 5 before U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. Libby's defense has not yet filed its recommendation.

Fitzgerald disputed assertions by Libby supporters who have called the leak investigation politically motivated and have claimed that Libby is the victim of an unfair indictment and a wrongful conviction.

"The judicial system has not corruptly mistreated Mr. Libby," Fitzgerald said. "Mr. Libby has been found by a jury of his peers to have corrupted the judicial system." ...

No one was charged with the leak itself -- Fitzgerald knew early on that the original disclosure to columnist Robert D. Novak came from then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, a fact Libby's supporters have cited in claiming that the probe went too far. Fitzgerald rejected that idea yesterday, saying that it was critical to know who else was involved and that Libby tried to thwart that effort.

Libby "showed contempt for the judicial process when he obstructed justice by repeatedly lying under oath about material matters in a serious criminal investigation," Fitzgerald said.

Libby's attorneys have said their client should be pardoned, something top Democrats have warned against.

President Bush has said he is "pretty much going to stay out of" the case, at least until the legal process has run its course.

Some independent lawyers have calculated that Mr. Libby's sentence is likely to be as brief as 27 months.

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