Dick Cheney’s former aide, “Scooter” Libby has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for obstruction of justice and perjury. Since the Libby trial began was so long ago, I’ve had a couple of my friends ask me what it was all about- so here’s a bit of a review:
Back in 2002, the CIA wanted to check out the facts regarding a memo that they had- this memo documented that Niger had sold uranium yellowcake to Iraq in the late 1990s- this was part of the proof that Iraq had a WMD. The CIA asked Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV to travel to Niger and verify this information. Once he got to Niger, it seemed clear that this particular memo had been forged- the people who signed it were no longer in office, the Niger government formally denied it, and it would have been very difficult to get the uranium out of the country because of the IAEA oversight.
Then, later in 2002, Britain started citing the Nigerian yellowcake as justification for the war in Iraq, and in early 2003, the Bush Administration also started using this as justification. After Ambassador Wilson realized that the Bush Administration was disregarding his findings in Niger, he started voicing his dissent and the facts, as he knew them. Finally, he wrote an op-ed to the New York Times on July 6 2003. This piece clearly explains his findings in Niger and the inaccuracy of this connection between Niger and Iraq.
Beginning in early June 2003, the Bush Administration started discussing the identity of Ambassador Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, who was, at the time, a covert CIA operative. Only 8 days after Ambassador Wilson’s op-ed was published, the newspaper article “Mission to Niger,” published Plame’s name and identified her as a CIA operative. This, of course, destroyed her covert identity and endangered all of her contacts.
In September 2003 the CIA asked for a federal investigation, because knowingly releasing the identity of a covert agent is a criminal act. Additionally, Ambassador Wilson and his wife have brought a suit against Libby, Vice-President Cheney, Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. The Wilsons allege that Plame’s identity was deliberately compromised in retaliation for Ambassador Wilson’s op-ed and stance against the Iraq war.
This conviction of Libby is the first step in bringing back accountability to the United States- accountability for endangering Valerie Plame and ending her career- which occurred because her husband exercised his right to free speech and spoke the truth in a time when most Americans were willing to accept anything that the Bush Administration was saying. Especially today, when we can see that Iraq did not have any WMDs, we should honor those who spoke the truth and tried to prevent us from entering this disastrous war that has cost so many American lives.