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Former US Vice Presidential Aide Compelled to Begin Prison Sentence


A judge has ruled that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, must begin his 30-month sentence for obstruction of justice, rather than remain free during the appeal process.

Libby appeared in U.S. district court in Washington, D.C. Thursday to hear his fate, after being sentenced last week. The judge, Reggie Walton, had indicated he was not inclined to free Libby on bond, but he gave Libby's attorneys until today to make their case for keeping him out of jail pending appeal.

No date has been set for Libby to report to prison, but it is expected to be within six to eight weeks.

President Bush has the power to pardon Libby, but the White House has not said whether he will do that.

Libby was convicted in March on four of five felony counts of making false statements to investigators and a grand jury trying to determine who exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to the media.

Plame is married to former diplomat Joseph Wilson, who openly criticized the Bush administration about its reasons for invading Iraq in 2003.

Libby is the only person charged and convicted in connection with the investigation. He is the highest-ranking White House official convicted of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandals of the 1980s.

No one has been charged in the actual leak of Plame's identity.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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