U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's unremorseful former top aide should be sentenced to 2 1/2 to 3 years in prison for perjury and obstruction of justice in a case linked to the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war, the special prosecutor in the case said on Friday.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, was convicted in March on four of five counts in the investigation into who blew the cover of CIA analyst Valerie Plame, whose husband was an outspoken Iraq war critic.
"Mr. Libby, a high-ranking public official and experienced lawyer, lied repeatedly and blatantly about matters at the heart of a criminal investigation concerning the disclosure of a covert intelligence officer's identity," Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wrote in court documents.
"He has expressed no remorse, no acceptance of responsibility, and no recognition that there is anything he should have done differently — either with respect to his false statements and testimony, or his role in providing reporters with classified information about Ms. Wilson's affiliation with the CIA," Fitzgerald added.
The Libby charges grew out of an investigation into the leak of Plame's identity in 2003 after her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of manipulating intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to build its case for war.
Fitzgerald also rejected arguments by Libby's supporters that the case was based on politics.
Fitzgerald asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to send Libby to prison for between 30 and 37 months. Sentencing is due on June 5.
'TELL THE TRUTH'
"Mr. Libby's prosecution was based not upon politics but upon his own conduct," Fitzgerald added, "as well as upon a principle fundamental to preserving our judicial system's independence from politics: that any witness, whatever his political affiliation, whatever his views on any policy or national issue, whether he works in the White House or drives a truck to earn a living, must tell the truth when he raises his hand and takes an oath in a judicial proceeding, or gives a statement to federal law enforcement officers."
No charges have been brought against anyone for the actual leaks to journalists about Plame. Federal law makes it a crime to knowingly reveal the identity of a covert agent.
Critics of President George W. Bush have seized on the Libby conviction as illustrating heavy-handed White House tactics to blunt a war critic, and accused the administration of hypocrisy over its promises of clean government.
The conviction was one of a series of setbacks for Bush's war policies, including flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, failing to anticipate and then contain an insurgency and sectarian violence, detainee abuse, and substandard treatment of some U.S. troops wounded in combat.
(Additional reporting by James Vicini)