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Cheney furious at Bush for not pardoning Libby

President Bush with Vice President Cheney looking over his shoulder

It is being described as a full-court, all-out campaign, waged in the last days of the Bush administration by then Vice President Dick Cheney, to get George W. Bush to grant a full pardon to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The effort failed, but the snub by the Texas Lone Ranger has left Cheney furious. As the New York Daily News reported, Cheney "tried to make it happen right up until the very end," pressing his case in many conversations, both in person and on the phone. Cheney was relentless, said one ally.

He went to the mat and came back and back and back at Bush. He was still trying the day before (President) Obama was sworn in.

Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, was convicted of lying to a federal grand jury about his role in the administration's leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. This in an effort to discredit her husband, former envoy to Iraq Joe Wilson, who was penning Op-Eds critical of Bush's plans to go to war in Iraq.

CIA agent Valerie Plame and her husband Iraq War critic Joe Wilson

Bush commuted Libby's 30-month sentence, saying at the time that he wanted to respect  the judgment of the jury that had convicted Libby but felt the sentence was excessive. With Cheney on offense to get Libby a full pardon, an exasperated Bush told aides he didn't want to talk about it anymore.

Bitter over the outcome, Cheney has now gone public, arguing that his chief of staff was railroaded by the administration's political critics. As he told the Weekly Standard:

He was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice, and I strongly believe that he deserved a presidential pardon. Obviously, I disagree with President Bush's decision.

And the Ticket thinks the former vice president has a point.

This was a planned leak, and two other administration figures -- political guru Karl Rove and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage -- had already confessed to telling reporters about Plame's covert role. Libby's only crime was lying.

But in Washington, it's always the cover-up, rarely the crime, that gets you in trouble.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo credit: Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (29)

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So what's the scoop? Why did Bush resist Cheney on the Libby deal when he did everything else Uncle Dick told him to do for eight years?

President Bush's odd sense of propriety, as well as Scooter Libby's sense of loyalty to Cheney, has given no reparation to Valerie Plame... The guiding principle of protecting Americans Bush and Cheney used throughout their administration days never applied to people like Ms. Plame - they ought to never be allowed to forget this episode as one of the many shameful blunders they concocted.

His only crime was lying? Lying under oath is a BIG crime, and for good reason. How can we get to the bottom of government malfeasance if we accept lying about their skulduggery? The whole point of the prosecution of Libby was that Fitzgerald couldn't determine whether a different crime had been committed because subjects like Libby were lying to him.

awwwww, little dick is upset his buddy got in trouble. cheney's nervous. he knows he is an international and domestic criminal, and one day, probably after he dies, the true nature of all his crimes will be made public. then cheney will be the fall guy, just like scooter was. everything will be blamed on him and everyone else in the administration will be off scott free. america needs to upgrade its 15 minute memory.

"agent"? Valerie Plame was an officer of the CIA, an actual government employee, not an "agent". Betraying her identity is tantamount to treason. Libby should be facing a firing squad. And "Shotgun" Cheney should be right next to him.

Back here in the real world, the crime itself also gets you in trouble... typically it gets you arrested and sent to jail. It would be nice if Washington had a enforced system of laws like the rest of the country does. Why the double standard?

It's Cheney and Rove who should be jailed, in addition to their aides, goons and henchmen.

Is there independent confirmation of this "all-out" attempt to get Bush to pardon Libby? Or is that just Cheney's story now, so that Libby won't feel compelled to tell all about his former boss and the illegal moves that Cheneyhimself made in this process?

Where is the news story here? Most people assume that Libby was just covering up Cheney's involvement and went to the mat for him, with the understanding that he would be ultimately exonerated. Of course Cheney assumed he had the power to make this happen. Quel suprise!

"Libby's only crime was lying." Oh, is that it? Perjury is the technical term. I love the insertion of the word "only" by Johanna "the conservative-hack" Neuman. The answer, my dear, is not to set Libby free, but to prosecute Rove and Armitage as well. They are all criminals. Libby took the fall for Cheney and Bush, and the plan, I am sure, was to pardon Libby after everything died down. The whole story is pathetic, conservative republican politics are pathetic, and this "reporter" is pathetic. His only crime was lying? Absolutely pathetic.

The "serious miscarriage of justice" here is that Cheney is still a free man. He should be in a jail cell.

To heck with Libby. Let him rot.

How about charing Cheney and Bush with their crimes???

Johanna Neuman says, "Libby's only crime was lying."

Well, lying to a grand jury about the outting of a CIA operative is a very serious crime that should have brought a much harser sentence than 30 months.

The bigger crime is that Rove, Armitage, Cheney, and Bush have not yet gone to jail.

This is not a miscarriage of justice! Cheney doesn't have a point.

It is a crime to lie to Federal investigators. Libby lied to Federal investigators. He committed a crime, was tried, and was found guilty.

Why weren't Rove and Armitage tried? Because they admitted leaking Plame's name! They told the truth to the investigators.

If anybody has a valid point, it is Bush. He at least recognized a crime had been committed.

of course it was a planned leak, and yet another tool in their political toolbox.

if Cheney had ever really cared, he could have resigned, and taken the blame, years ago.

libby was lucky not to end up in jail for his role in the treason.

It rather surprises me-- but I think that GW felt more secure hanging Libby out-- bt somehow I think Libby took the punishment that should have been awarded to cheney and Rove. He was the fall guy. Not convinced he was the right guy to nail.

"Libby's only crime was lying." Isn't that what he was convicted for??? Your argument seems to prove a different point--bigger heads should have rolled for even bigger offenses.

Cheney/Bush are traitors for revealing Plame. Do you understand?

Hey Dick Cheney, weren't you in charge of NORAD on 9-11? How's all that Halliburton stock anyway?

Hurray for G.W. Bush! At least - once - or may be at last he did not do as Cheney wanted.

I have to believe the jury came to the wrong conclusion. It basically came down to trusting the faulty memory of several reporters, mainly Tim Russert. Given a choice between Russert (who had been caught in falsehoods before) and Libby (who had a 30-year reputation as a staight shooter) I would have gone with Libby in a heartbeat.

Moreover, the whole story didn't make sense - there was no reason for Libby to lie, because no crime was committed.

We need to prosecute the traitor Dick Cheney for jeopardizing the life of Valarie Plame. He should spend the rest of his miserable days behind bars for treason.

We need to prosecute the traitor Dick Cheney for jeopardizing the life of Valarie Plame. He should spend the rest of his miserable days behind bars for treason.

Give the traitor Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, and Karl Rove a choice between facing a firing squad for their treasonous acts or IED demolitions work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why shouldn't Dick be mad? Libby stuck to the "cover story" and tookthe hit for lying to federal agents and the grand jury, lying under oath is a serious offense, especially for assistants to the President. The higher they are the farther they fall.

It seems now that Dick Cheney is going to have to come up with new sources of income for his lousy book writing Cheif of Staff because the only book he has to sell now, is the true story of what hapened inside the White House from Sep 12, 2001 until he was arrested and had to resign, and let's face it, most of it involves Cheney and Bush, he can implicate them all in the crimes they committed on office, I wonder if Eric Hlder is making a "get out of jail free card" for libby now to get Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld and Gonzalez and others like Addington and Yoo, nothing is sweeter than revenge and best served warm.

On July 21, 2007, Dick Cheney was Acting President while George W. Bush endured a medical procedure.

On July 21, 2007, Cheney had the chance to pardon Scooter Libby, but he didn't do it.

The one good thing GW did - there was no longer any reason to let Cheney make the major decisions. It was over! It is over! Even the Dub recognized it....

Libby took the rap for Cheney, and now Cheney is going through "pro-forma" anger about it, as he sips down the beers and goes hunting for caged pheasants. If he really felt for Libby he could have fessed up at the time, and took the rap himself.

Dear Fading Fast,
My theory: Cheney is the smarter of the two men. Pardoning Libby would have made Bush/Cheney even more unpopular than they are now.
Cheney knows that they will be disliked from now on. Bush hasn't figured that out yet.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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