Bloomberg News reported July 2 a US appeals court ruled Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Richard Cheney's former chief of staff, must be imprisoned while appealing his conviction March 6 of lying to investigators and a grand jury and obstructing their probing the 2003 leaking of CIA official Valerie Plame's identity. The court said Libby "has not shown that the appeal raises a substantial question" for him to remain free under federal law. Earlier, US District Judge Reggie Walton refused to let Libby remain free during appeal saying evidence of his guilt was "overwhelming."
No date was set for Libby to report to prison nor was a site yet chosen for him. That's for the US Bureau of Prisons to decide. For now, those issues are still unsettled as AP reports his lawyers "will seek an emergency order delaying the (appeals court) sentence." Deputy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino responded "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."
He and Libby might have considered the consequences of lying to a grand jury and FBI investigators under oath and obstructing justice in an attempt to learn the truth. He followed orders and now faces time behind bars barring a higher court reversal or President Bush pardon that seems virtually certain it his appeals process fails that likely will go all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Based on its extremist decisions handed down in June, including gutting the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, it would surprise no one if the High Court hears Libby's appeal, if it gets that far, and rules on his behalf to save George Bush further embarrassment. If that doesn't happen and the president holds off pardoning him, Libby will be the first senior White House official to serve prison time since top Richard Nixon aides did in the 1970s including HR Halderman and John Erlichman.
Libby faces 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine from his conviction handed down June 5. A CNN/Opinion Research survey in March found 69% of respondents opposed a pardon against 18% in favor. That and the courts may hold little weight in the face of powerful pro-Libby supporters in government, the media and elsewhere wanting the president to intervene and pardon him. At this time, Libby's conviction stands and was just upheld on appeal in US v. Libby, 07-3068 in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Washington).
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com.
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