Hands down, yes they were.
A concerted effort to destroy a critics is not a jailable offense. But it would seem that because they knew Valerie Plame was an under-cover operative, and knew the information was classified, that such a disclosure would be in legal terms "willful." In other words, a disclosure of information on purpose, even though they knew it was classified.
Although that may be true, being Bush and Cheney knew they were the culprits at the center of the investigation, they came up with a plan to hog-tie Prosecutor Fitzgerald and sabotage his investigation right from the start.
Bush stepped in because he was forced to by Libby's court filings. He knew this day would come but he also knew he was untouchable.
When Libby leaked the name of a CIA operative he released classified information, which would be a crime, if he acted on his own authority, as most of us believed. But now we find out that he was not acting on his own authority, he was acting under instructions from Cheney and Bush and thus, as it turns out, he did nothing illegal.
In covering for Bush, Libby's lies can be credited for giving Bush a second term. But a lot of good it did him. So long as Bush sticks to the story that unbeknownst to anyone, besides himself, Cheney and Libby, he had "declassified" certain information and told Cheney to instruct Libby to release it, Bush and Cheney walk, but Libby does not.
Fitzgerald knew this was going to happen and this is why it always seemed as if he was talking in circles when discussing Libby's indictment and why he continued to say over and over that Libby was not being charged with leaking the name of a CIA agent, and that furthermore, he did he plan to charge Libby with that crime.
Fitzgerald knows full well that the White House pulled a fast one on him.
He knew it shortly after his investigation got underway. But Libby is still going down, in part, probably because Fitzgerald is ticked off over being had. And in turn, this is why Libby is so ticked off, and why he is now trying to bring Bush and Cheney into the mix.
The "fast one" that got Bush and Cheney off the hook does not apply to him and its disclosure in court filings won't help one bit in defending against the charges he's facing.
Apparently, Bush can declassify any information he has a mind to at a minutes notice. Talk about not-so-subtle blackmail. This probably explains why other CIA employees have stayed in lockstep with the line that they did not feel pressured by the administration to hype or distort intelligence in the run up to war.
In fact, it probably explains a lot more about why this White House keeps getting away with murder.