Yesterday, as I sat pondering how long the jurors in the CIA Leak/Valerie Plame case against Vice President Dick Cheney's former top assistant, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, I very nearly posted here saying I was concerned that, if the jury did not deadlock, it was likely they would find him Not Guilty on most if not all charges.
So color me somewhat pleasantly surprised when the jury returned with a guilty verdict on four of the five charges from against Scooter by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. I was neither surprised NOR pleased to hear the cable news networks reporting the verdict as if they felt sorry for the man who - not alone - endangered the life of a covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame as political payback for her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, going public with how the Bush Administration "cooked" a story of aluminum tubes and yellow cake in Niger as part of the case to go to war in Iraq. More than Plame was endangered; she was part of a large team working on WMDs that were endangered.
Libby deserves no sympathy. He simply doesn't. The far rightwing, in fact, have given him so much money for "defense" that he has not had to spend a cent of his personal fortune (and all the Bushies appear very wealthy).
But the one member of the jury who spoke out also seemed to hint at "poor Scooter", saying the jury felt like he was the fall guy for a whole network of wrongdoers. I, too, believe this. But it in no way lessons Libby's culpability.
Now, while he could face years in prison because of these convictions, I doubt the White House will waste any time whatsoever in pardoning Libby. It would be wrong for them to do so, but since when do the Bushies care about justice? And besides, they want to give Libby a reason to "shut up" because, now convicted, he might be more spilling to tell on Cheney and Rove and company for their role in a crime for which only Libby was charged.
You may want to check out the Citizens for Ethics & Responsibility in Washington's (CREW) blog statement on the Libby guilty verdict today ("No man is above the law") while Rolling Stone magazine's National daily blog refers to Libby as "the fall guy" and breaks down the verdicts:
Naturally, since the Bushies' abhor justice, Libby is already demanding a new trial.
Obstruction of justice: Guilty
False statements to FBI (about conversation with Tim Russert): Guilty
False statements (conversation with Matt Cooper): Not Guilty
Perjury before grand jury (about Russert conversation): Guilty
Purjury before grand jury (about Cooper conversation): Guilty
Libby has been found decisively guilty of a coverup — although he was found not guilty of one count of lying to the FBI, he was found guilty of perjuring himself about that same conversation before the grand jury.
What happens to Scooter, is of course, less interesting. The storm “cloud” over the Vice President, to quote prosecutor, is now darkening. The vital thing going forward is whether the prospect of a few years in club fed is enough to make a loyal footsoldier like Libby rat out his old boss.