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Libby's lawyers argue against tough sentence

They say that the prosecutor is trying to punish him for a crime he wasn't charged with: the Plame leak itself.

June 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby told a federal judge Thursday that he didn't deserve the harsh sentence prosecutors were seeking for him in the CIA leak case.

Prosecutors want Libby to serve up to three years in prison for lying about his conversations with reporters regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose identity was revealed in 2003, touching off a leak investigation.

Libby's lawyers said that such a sentence would be unfair and that Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald was trying to use the obstruction-of-justice case to sentence Libby for the leak itself.

Fitzgerald "seeks to have Mr. Libby sentenced on the basis of the case it could have sought to try -- but chose not to," defense lawyers wrote in court documents filed Thursday.

Libby was convicted in March of perjury and obstruction, becoming the highest-ranking White House official convicted since the Iran-Contra affair two decades ago.

Fitzgerald said last week that Libby showed no remorse for having corrupted the justice system.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, who has a reputation for handing down tough sentences, has broad discretion over Libby's fate. If he sends Libby to prison, he also must decide whether to put that sentence on hold until the appeals run out. That decision could determine how much time President Bush has to decide whether to pardon Libby, as some have suggested.

Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday.

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