Jun 28, 2007

Libby Becomes Inmate No. 28301-016

For years he was known as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and assistant to President Bush. On Wednesday, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby became federal inmate No. 28301-016.

Libby, who was convicted in March of lying and obstructing an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity, faces 2 1/2 years in prison.

The assignment of an inmate number by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons represents another step on the road to prison. Inmate numbers stay with prisoners even after their release.

Libby, however, is hoping that an appeals court will intervene and put the sentence on hold before he is ordered to surrender.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has not indicated how quickly it will rule. Lawyers in the case said Libby had not yet been assigned to a prison or given a date to surrender.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald opposes Libby's bid to delay his prison term. He says Libby does not have a good chance of having his conviction overturned and should begin serving prison time immediately.

Libby's friends have asked President Bush to step in and pardon him, a request that Bush has sidestepped while the legal case drags on.

Libby, 56, is the only person charged in the leak scandal, which erupted after CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was revealed in a 2003 syndicated newspaper column. Libby was not the source for that leak and neither of the two Bush administration officials who provided the information were ever charged.

When confronted by prosecutors and FBI agents, however, Libby lied about how he learned about Plame and whom he told, a jury found. He is the highest-ranking White House official sentenced to prison since the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.

The Bureau of Prisons does not say where its inmates will serve until they begin their sentence. Normally, prisoners are assigned to facilities within 200 miles of home. As a nonviolent, first-time offender, Libby likely will be placed in a minimum security prison camp.

Jun 22, 2007

Who's Your Daddy..?

Judge Reggie Walton Files Expanded O p i n i o n
Details Decision Not Allowing Libby to Remain Free

A federal judge is adding the heft of a 30-page legal opinion to his decision last week not to permit a former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, I. Lewis Libby Jr., to remain free while he appeals his convictions for obstructing the CIA leak investigation.

Judge Reggie Walton's decision to file a detailed and carefully-reasoned justification for his ruling adds some incline to the uphill battle Libby faces in trying to convince a federal appeals court panel to grant him a stay of his 30-month prison term while his lawyers fight to overturn his conviction. The lengthy opinion could also be viewed as a shot across the bow of the appeals court panel, which is certain to face claims it had more of an eye on politics than law if it chooses to upend Judge Walton's decision.

In a footnote to the opinion he filed Thursday, Judge Walton said he wanted "to ensure that the Circuit Court has a clear record of this Court's conclusion and reasoning" in denying the motion to stay Libby's sentence.

The issue of a stay is politically sensitive for President Bush. If a stay is granted, Mr. Bush can put off a decision about whether to pardon Libby for the duration of the appeal, which could last a year or more. If Libby's convictions are overturned, there might be no need for a pardon at all.

However, if Libby is denied a stay and must report to jail in the next few weeks, the White House will face intense pressure from Libby's allies to grant a pardon.

A jury convicted Libby in March on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury before a grand jury, and making false statements to the FBI. All the charges arose during an investigation of the disclosure in the press of the identity of a veteran CIA officer, Valerie Plame. No charges have been brought for the leak itself.

Most of Judge Walton's new opinion (link) is devoted to the argument of Libby's attorneys that the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was unconstitutionally appointed because he acted without supervision by the Attorney General or any other official confirmed by the Senate. The judge rejects claims by Libby's legal team that letters giving Mr. Fitzgerald broad discretion to conduct his probe amounted to the kind of unfettered authority that could run afoul of the Constitution's appointment clause. "They do not confer upon Fitzgerald as Special Counsel the prosecutorial equivalent of James Bond's license to kill, and are unlikely to be read by any court as a blank check," the judge wrote. "The Special Counsel was and is clearly a subordinate within the Department of Justice, even if he has not been closely supervised or directed on a day-to-day (or even week-to-week) basis in a manner that might cause his independence and impartiality, so necessary in an investigation of this type, to legitimately be questioned."

Judge Walton said Mr. Fitzgerald was subject to removal at any time by a senior Justice Department official and his authority could have been circumscribed as well at any point. The judge said it was "resoundingly clear" that Mr. Fitzgerald's appointment was constitutional under the tests set forth in a 1988 Supreme Court case, Morrison v. Olson, which upheld the constitutionality of an independent counsel appointed under a 1978 law, the Ethics in Government Act. The independent counsel provision expired in 1999, but the Justice Department has appointed special counsels since then from outside the department and from inside, as is the case with Mr. Fitzgerald who is also the top federal prosecutor in Chicago.

In his written ruling, Judge Walton also accepted Mr. Fitzgerald's claim that the defense engaged in a "talmudic dissection" of the language in the judge's earlier rulings "in a manner that deprives it entirely of context."

Judge Walton's latest opinion could also be seen as a further retort to 12 legal scholars, some of the eminent in the profession, who filed an amicus brief arguing that Mr. Fitzgerald's appointment raised serious constitutional questions. If that was Judge Walton's intent, it may have been overkill since the appeals court on Wednesday refused an amicus brief from the same scholars.

Based on the schedule the appeals court set for briefs, it seems that the panel could make a decision as soon as next week on Libby's request for a stay.

If the court turns him down, he could seek relief from the Supreme Court. Another possibility, first raised on National Review's Web site, is that Mr. Bush could issue a form of clemency known as a respite, which could have the same effect as a stay.

Jun 18, 2007

Who Needs HBO..?

Jun 17, 2007

Public Service - Good Medicine...

Doctor of Laws and Evildoer Hunter

Since graduating from Amherst College 25 years ago, Patrick Fitzgerald ’82 has proved himself one of the nation’s best prosecutors, and one of its most remarkable citizens. <more>

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald '82 speaks on
"What I Did Not Know About Public Service When I Graduated."
Listen to speech
Photos galore and more...

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Jun 16, 2007

And That's The Way It Is...

Begging His Pardon

From the Desk of Bill Moyers

We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites — the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers. Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail.

It is well known that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby — once Vice President Cheney’s most trusted adviser—has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for perjury. Lying. Not a white lie, mind you. A killer lie. Scooter Libby deliberately poured poison into the drinking water of democracy by lying to federal investigators, for the purpose of obstructing justice.

Attempting to trash critics of the war, Libby and his pals in high places—including his boss Dick Cheney — outed a covert CIA agent. Libby then lied to Libby cover their tracks. To throw investigators off the trail, he kicked sand in the eyes of truth. "Libby lied about nearly everything that mattered,” wrote the chief prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. The jury agreed and found him guilty on four felony counts. Judge Reggie B. Walton — a no-nonsense, lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key type, appointed to the bench by none other than George W. Bush—called the evidence “overwhelming” and threw the book at Libby.

You would have thought their man had been ordered to Guantanamo, so intense was the reaction from his cheerleaders. They flooded the judge's chambers with letters of support for their comrade and took to the airwaves in a campaign to “free Scooter.”

Vice President Cheney issued a statement praising Libby as “a man…of personal integrity” — without even a hint of irony about their collusion to browbeat the CIA into mangling intelligence about Iraq in order to justify the invasion.

“A patriot, a dedicated public servant, a strong family man, and a tireless, honorable, selfless human being,” said Donald Rumsfeld — the very same Rumsfeld who had claimed to know the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction and who boasted of “bulletproof” evidence linking Saddam to 9/11. “A good person” and “decent man,” said the one-time Pentagon adviser Kenneth Adelman, who had predicted the war in Iraq would be a “cakewalk.” Paul Wolfowitz wrote a four-page letter to praise “the noblest spirit of selfless service” that he knew motivated his friend Scooter. Yes, that Paul Wolfowitz, who had claimed Iraqis would “greet us as liberators” and that Iraq would “finance its own reconstruction.” The same Paul Wolfowitz who had to resign recently as president of the World Bank for using his office to show favoritism to his girlfriend. Paul Wolfowitz turned character witness.

The praise kept coming: from Douglas Feith, who ran the Pentagon factory of disinformation that Cheney and Libby used to brainwash the press; from Richard Perle, as cocksure about Libby’s “honesty, integrity, fairness and balance” as he had been about the success of the war; and from William Kristol, who had primed the pump of the propaganda machine at THE WEEKLY STANDARD and has led the call for a Presidential pardon. “The case was such a farce, in my view,” he said. “I’m for pardon on the merits.”

One beltway insider reports that the entire community is grieving — “weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness” of Libby's sentence.

And there’s the rub.

None seem the least weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness of sentencing soldiers to repeated and longer tours of duty in a war induced by deception. It was left to the hawkish academic Fouad Ajami to state the matter baldly. In a piece published on the editorial page of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Ajami pleaded with Bush to pardon Libby. For believing “in the nobility of this war,” wrote Ajami, Scooter Libby had himself become a “casualty” — a fallen soldier the President dare not leave behind on the Beltway battlefield.

Not a word in the entire article about the real fallen soldiers. The honest-to-God dead, and dying, and wounded. Not a word about the chaos or the cost. Even as the calamity they created worsens, all they can muster is a cry for leniency for one of their own who lied to cover their tracks.

There are contrarian voices: “This is an open and shut case of perjury and obstruction of justice,” said Pat Buchanan. “The Republican Party stands for the idea that high officials should not be lying to special investigators.” From the former Governor of Virginia, James Gilmore, a staunch conservative, comes this verdict: “If the public believes there’s one law for a certain group of people in high places and another law for regular people, then you will destroy the law and destroy the system.”

So it may well be, as THE HARTFORD COURANT said editorially, that Mr Libby is “a nice guy, a loyal and devoted patriot…but none of that excuses perjury or obstruction of justice. If it did, truth wouldn’t matter much.”

Nice post and blog, Bill!

Jun 14, 2007

Motion - DENIED..!

Scooter Libby, Do Not Pass Go...

WASHINGTON -- A 'no BS' federal judge said Thursday he will not delay a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a ruling that WILL send the former White House aide to prison within weeks.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton's decision will send Libby's attorneys rushing to an appeals court to block the sentence, demand payment in full from their client and could force President Bush to consider calls from Libby's kool-aid drinking supporters to pardon the former aide.

No date was set for Libby to report to prison but it's expected to be within six to eight weeks. That will be left up to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which will also select a facility and new nickname for Scooter. <more>
Location, location, location...

Justice is now being served. Next!

I Got Your Back...

Judge Walton Received Threats

"I received a number of angry, harassing mean-spirited phone calls and letters," U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said. "Some of those were wishing bad things on me and my family."

Walton made the remarks as he opened a hearing into whether to delay Libby's 2 1/2-year sentence. He said he was holding the letters in case something happened but said they would have no effect on Thursday's decision.

Jun 8, 2007

Think Progess - Think Judge Walton...

Hello, Dolly!

Judge smacks ‘luminaries’ defending Libby.

A dozen mostly libertarian and conservative legal scholars, including rejected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, submitted an amicus brief to Scooter Libby trial Judge Reggie Walton “arguing that that there are serious constitutional questions about the legal authorityof Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Emptywheel highlights this bitingly sarcastic response from Judge Walton:

It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these eminent academics’ willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.

Dozen Top Legal Scholars Line Up for Libby Appeal - Wa Po
Reggie is one of a kind - I support cloning!

Jun 5, 2007

A Winning Combination...

Team America, Judge Reggie Walton and Justice for All....

From Amb. Joseph Wilson:

As Americans, both Valerie and I are grateful that justice has been served, reconfirming that our country remains a nation of laws.

We are also saddened for the pain that Mr. Libby has inflicted on his family, friends, and the nation. Mr. Libby benefited from the best this country had to offer: the finest schools, a lucrative career as a lawyer and many years of service in Republican administrations. That he would knowingly lie, perjure himself and obstruct a legitimate criminal invetigation is incomprehensible.

It is our hope that he will now cooperate with Special Counsel Fitzgerald in his efforts to get to the truth. As Mr. Fitzgerald has said, a cloud remains over the Vice President.

Every official in this administration must be held accountable for their actions.

Libby Sentenced: 30 Months in Jail Because "Truth Matters" - David Corn

We need the truth from government officials.

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