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5 Jun, 2007 14:46

Former White House aide jailed for perjury

Former White House aide jailed for perjury

Former Whitehouse aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for perjury and obstruction of justice. The charges relate to a probe into the leak of a CIA officer's identity in a case involving the Iraq war.

Leaving the U.S. District courthouse Lewis Libby got an earful from the media and spectators but did not answer any questions. U.S. District Judge Walton sentenced Libby to 30 months behind bars, a 250,000 dollar fine and two years of probation. Libby's lawyers plan to appeal the case and it’s still not clear if he'll ever serve a day in jail.

“Their chances are not very good, percentage wise it’s very rare for a jury verdict like this to be overturned but they will make all their legal arguments to the court of appeals and suggest that the trial was not fair and that the conviction should be thrown out,” comments Randall Eliason, Law Lecturer form George Washington University Law School.

In March, Lewis Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements to investigators. The charges stemmed from an FBI investigation into the identity leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson openly criticized and questioned the Bush Administration for invading Iraq. At that time Libby served as Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff and was the only person charged in the FBI probe. Following the sentencing, Vice President Cheney stood by his closest advisor.

Before the sentencing, Libby's lawyers presented Judge Watson with dozens of letters from high-profile supporters, pleading for leniency. Prosecutors argued the serious charges against Libby should result in jail time.

With Libby not expressing any remorse for his crimes, and the severity of the charges, Mr Ellison says the harsh sentence is not surprising.

“It’s on the high side, but Judge Walton is known to be a tough judge, known for giving out high sentences. And I agree with the Judge and the prosecutor, this is a real serious matter, you got a very high level public official lying to a federal grand jury under oath about a criminal investigation involving possible leaks of national security information. It’s really serious,” he believes.
With the case now decided only one ultimate question remains: will President Bush Pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby? So far, the White House is saying is that its not interviewing in the criminal matter until the appeal process has run its course.