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Libby Found Guilty of Lying in CIA Leak Case


Former White House aide Lewis Libby was found guilty Tuesday on four of five counts of lying, perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation into the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity in 2003. Vice President Dick Cheney said he was "very disappointed" with the verdict. National correspondent Jim Malone has details from Washington.

Libby is a former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney and at one time was one of the most powerful White House staffers in Washington.

Libby was convicted on four of five counts of either lying to or misleading FBI investigators as part of the investigation into who leaked the identity of former covert CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Plame's CIA identity was revealed in a newspaper column in 2003. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald launched an investigation into whether Plame's identity was leaked as part of a White House effort to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson had accused the Bush administration of distorting intelligence in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Libby did not speak to reporters after the verdict. But his attorney, Ted Wells, said he was disappointed in the jury's decision.

"We intend to file a motion for a new trial and, if that is denied, we will appeal the conviction and we have every confidence that ultimately Mr. Libby will be vindicated," he said. "We believe, as we said at the time of his indictment, that he is totally innocent, totally innocent, and that he did not do anything wrong."

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald also spoke to reporters outside the court following the verdict.

"The jury was obviously convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had lied and obstructed justice in a serious matter," he said. "The results are actually sad. It is sad that we had a situation where a high level official, a person who worked in the office of the vice president, obstructed justice and lied under oath. We wished that that had not happened, but it did."

Prosecutors said Libby knew of Valerie Plame's CIA connection from Vice President Cheney and others in the administration. Libby's attorneys countered that he had a bad memory and had misremembered his conversations with journalists, some of whom were called to testify in the case.

The only juror who spoke to reporters was Denis Collins. Collins said jurors did not believe Libby's faulty memory defense, but Collins also said there was sympathy for Libby on the jury.

"Now having said that, I will say that there was a tremendous amount of sympathy for Mr. Libby on the jury," he explained. "It was said a number of times, what are we doing with this guy here? Where is [presidential adviser Karl] Rove? Where are these other guys? We are not saying that we did not think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of. But it seemed like he was, the way Mr. Wells put it, he was the fall guy."

Prosecutor Fitzgerald said no additional charges will be filed in connection with the four-year-old investigation, meaning that no one will be charged with the original leak of Valerie Plame's CIA identity, which eventually made its way into the press.

At the White House, Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said President Bush had watched news of the Libby verdict on a television in the Oval Office and is saddened for Libby and his family.

"The best thing I can offer you right now is what the president's reaction was, he respected the verdict, he respects the jury, and we are just not going to be able to comment beyond it," she said.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid welcomed the Libby verdict, saying it was about time someone in the Bush administration was held accountable for manipulating pre-war intelligence on Iraq and discrediting war critics.

Libby is the highest-ranking former White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandal under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980's.

Libby could face a lengthy prison term in the wake of the convictions on four of the five counts against him. He will remain free on bail until a pre-sentencing hearing in May.

Libby, 56, could face up to 30 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines.

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