06 March 2007

Scooter Libby Guilty (Updated)

A Washington D.C. jury of eleven has found I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, 56, guilty on four of five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice charges, after ten days of deliberations, following a five week trial. Libby resigned from his post as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney when he was indicted in 2005. Libby leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent, Valerie Plame, and then lied about it to FBI investigators. He faced a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million if he had been convicted on all counts. As it is, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. A maximum sentence is unlikely in this case.

UPDATED: The sentencing guidelines appear to call for an 18-37 months sentence. But, a sentence of as much as ten years would be plausible is the uncharged crime of covering up the crime of disclosing Plame/Wilson's identity was included in setting the sentence.

The only count upon which is was found not guilty was the third count, making false statements. Libby was found guilty on the obstruction of justice charge, a making a false statement charge, and two perjury charges. For the record, Daily Kos had the news before CNN did.

While an appeal is almost inevitable, and Libby will remain free on bond pending appeal, once sentencing is complete (sentencing is set for June 5), this conviction manifestly displays the corruption that exists in this administration all the way into the White House itself. It is also yet another feather in prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's cap. And, on appeal, every defense win in the trial process is a loss for the defense in the appeal process (since that issue can't be appealed), and every loss for the defense at trial is a potential win on appeal.

The counts (per CNN):

Count one: Obstruction of justice [Guilty]
Alleges that Libby intentionally deceived the grand jury about how he learned, and "disclosed to the media," information about Valerie Plame Wilson's employment by the CIA. . . .

Count two: Making a false statement [Guilty]
Alleges that Libby intentionally gave FBI agents false information about a conversation he had with NBC's Tim Russert regarding Valerie Plame Wilson, who is married to Joseph Wilson. . . .

Count three: Making a false statement [Not Guilty]
Alleges that Libby knowingly gave the FBI false information about what he had told reporter Matt Cooper of Time magazine regarding Valerie Plame Wilson. . . .

Count four: Perjury [Guilty]
Alleges that Libby knowingly provided false testimony in court about a conversation he had with Russert. . . .

Count five: Perjury [Guilty]
Alleges that Libby knowingly provided false testimony in court about his conversation with reporters regarding Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA employment.

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