Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fitzgerald Justifies His Existence (Barely): Libby Convicted

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald just did what is so common with special prosecutors: He saw his grand investigation get whittled down to a scrawny, questionable case and by applying every dollar given to him by the American taxpayers, eeked out a conviction, thereby justifying the next special prosecutor to come along.

Here's the scoop:
WASHINGTON (AP) Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted Tuesday of obstruction, perjury and lying to the FBI in an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was accused of lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.

He was acquitted of one count of lying to the FBI.

Libby had little reaction to the verdict. He stood expressionless as the jury left the room.

The verdict was read on the 10th day of deliberations. Libby faces up to 30 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines likely will receive far less.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered a pre-sentencing report be completed by May 15. Judges use such reports to help determine sentences.

Libby faced two counts of perjury, two counts of lying to the FBI and one count of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said he discussed Plame's name with reporters and, fearing prosecution, made up a story to make those discussions seem innocuous.

Libby's defense team said he learned about Plame from Cheney, forgot about it, then learned it again a month later from NBC newsman Tim Russert. Anything he told reporters about Plame, Libby said, was just chatter and rumors, not official government information.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that was a lie. But Libby's defense team had argued that it would be unfair to convict Libby in a case where so many witnesses changed their stories or had memory problems.

No Cheney, no Bush, no vast right-wing conspiracy; just a needless debate over lying versus memory loss.

Not answered are the more significant questions: The MSM's role in playing up this affair, what really happened on Joe Clark's yellowcake mission and what that tells us about Africa's willingness to provide terrorists with uranium, and why Plame was successful in pushing her husband for the gig inthe first place.

It's not over yet, as a motion for a new trial is forthcoming, and certainly appeals will follow that.

What an absolute waste of money, and what a waste of Scooter Libby's life.

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