March 07, 2007

Fall Guy

Jury finds Libby guilty on 4 of 5 counts in case of unmasking of CIA operative

I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted Tuesday of lying to FBI agents and grand jurors who were investigating the unmasking of a CIA operative amid a burning dispute over the war in Iraq.

The jurors rejected Libby's claims of memory lapses as they convicted him of obstruction of justice, giving false statements to the FBI and perjuring himself, charges embodied in four of the five counts of the indictment. The jury acquitted him on an additional count of making false statements to the FBI.

The verdict brought to a dramatic conclusion what has been among the most politically charged criminal trials in the capital since the Iran-contra affair in the 1980s and the Watergate prosecutions of the 1970s. The trial involved some of the most powerful figures in the White House and in Washington journalism.

A juror who met afterward with reporters, Denis Collins, said there was some sympathy on the jury for Libby. Indeed, several jurors agreed with defense lawyers that Libby was in effect a "fall guy" for more senior members of the administration.

During the trial, Wells tried to show that his client was being made a scapegoat to protect Rove, who was considered vital to Bush's re-election campaign in 2004.

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