Democratic lawmakers repond to verdict: 'Don't pardon Libby'
Update: Dean compares scandal to US attorney dismissals and Walter Reed 'cover-up,' CNN video added
Democratic lawmakers are responding to the verdict in the CIA leak case trial which found former White House aide I. Lewis Libby guilty on four of five counts. Along with commenting on Libby's conviction, Democrats are also alluding to the roles that other Bush Administration officials, including Vice President Cheney, played in the "outing" of former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.
Over at the Democratic National Committee website, the following graphic was displayed at the top of its homepage, not long after the verdict was read at noon:
A Wall Street Journal blog noted the "first comment, was simply: “MERRY FITZMAS!!!!"
Reid: Bush must pledge 'no pardon'
A statement issued by Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) referred to revelations in the trial that Vice President Dick Cheney could be implicated further in the outing of former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. Reid also implored President Bush not to issue a pardon for Libby.
"I welcome the jury's verdict," Reid's statement said. "It's about time that someone in the Bush Administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics."
Libby was found guilty of four of five charges, including perjury and obstruction of justice.
Reid continued, "Lewis Libby has been convicted of perjury, but his trial revealed deeper truths about Vice President Cheney's role in this sordid affair."
"Now President Bush must pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct," Reid's statement concluded.
Pelosi: Trial provided troubling picture
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also released a statement which called attention to the Bush Administration's alleged role in the "outing."
"Today's guilty verdicts are not solely about the acts of one individual," Pelosi's statement sent to RAW STORY read.
Pelosi's statement continued, "This trial provided a troubling picture of the inner workings of the Bush Administration. The testimony unmistakably revealed – at the highest levels of the Bush Administration – a callous disregard in handling sensitive national security information and a disposition to smear critics of the war in Iraq."
When asked by the media whether Cheney might be the next target, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald demurred.
"I do not expect to file any further charges," Fitzgerald said.
Kerry: Politics of smear and fear
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) also released a statement which blasted the Bush Administration for its "politics of smear and fear."
"This verdict brings accountability at last for official deception and the politics of smear and fear," Kerry said in the statement sent to RAW STORY. "This trial revealed a no-holds barred White House attack machine aimed at anyone who stood in the way of their march to war with Iraq."
Kerry's statement continued, "It is time for President Bush to live up to his own promises and hold accountable anyone else who participated in this smear. It is also well past time for Vice President Cheney, who according to the testimony was protected by Scooter Libby's lies, to finally acknowledge his role in this sordid episode."
"I also want to thank the jury and the prosecutor for their hard work in this case," the former Democratic presidential candidate, who lost to Bush in 2004, added.
Obama: It should never happen again
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), a candidate for president in 2008, released a statement which called for an end to "leaks and innuendo in pursuit of a flawed policy."
"The conviction today underscores what happens when our foreign and national security policies are subverted by politics and ideology," Obama said in the statement sent to RAW STORY. "Leaks and innuendo in pursuit of a flawed policy lead to shameful episodes such as this."
Obama added, "It should never happen again."
Dean: Bush 'obsessed with critics'
Appearing on MSNBC, DNC Chairman Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate, compared the scandal to the US attorney dismissals by President Bush and the "cover-up" with regards to concerns about the outpatient care for US soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center.
"I think it's a sad day," Dean said, "I'm not surprised."
Dean said that the Bush Administration appears to be "more obsessed with their critics" than with doing their jobs and that, as a result, "America is suffering."
The DNC chairman opined that pardoning Libby could be seen a "good way to shut him up," and that it would be a "bad thing" if Bush attempted to "short circuit" any further investigation by issuing a pardon.
Dean also issued the following statement: "Today the American legal system did something the Bush Administration hasn't, by holding Scooter Libby accountable for his illegal actions. Many unanswered questions remain about the other key Bush advisors who participated in the administration's efforts to mislead the American people and smear its critics who have yet to be held accountable. Ultimately, the buck stops with President Bush."
Dean on CNN: 'Tip of the iceberg'
Appearing on The Situation Room later on Tuesday, Dean further explained to CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer why Bush may be tempted to pardon Libby.
"The problem is that Scooter Libby now has a -- a great incentive to tell what else was going on in the vice president's office," Dean said. "Don't forget, this is the tip of the iceberg."
Dean added, "This is about the president and the vice president trying to discredit people who turned out to be right about the war in Iraq. And Scooter Libby didn't do this all by himself. The best way that the president has to shut Scooter Libby up before sentencing is to pardon him."
Blitzer asked Dean why he called Libby only "the tip of the iceberg."
"Because we know that the president was not truthful to the American people when he sent us to war," Dean said. "And the -- we know that politics consumes this -- this administration."
While talking about Cheney's actions during the period before Plame's "outing," Dean brought up the current Army medical center scandal, as well, to call attention to the "casualty" of truth in the Bush Administration.
"You know, here, you have a spectacle of the vice president of the United States circling things in newspaper articles that he didn't like, in order to discredit his -- his foes, while our kids, our young men and women in Walter Reed hospital are not getting proper medical care," Dean said on CNN. "This administration needs to stop talking about politics and start doing something about the actual problems that are facing the American people starting with those soldiers in Walter Reed. There's a lot going on in this administration that's about politics, and it's -- and the truth is a casualty in this administration."
Dean was asked to specify exactly what he was calling for. "Governor, do you want to see a special prosecutor investigate the president and/or the vice president?" Blitzer asked. "Is that what I'm hearing?"
"Well, no, I didn't say -- you are very good with this, Wolf, but I didn't say any of those things," Dean answered. "What I did say is, there is more to come."
Dean added, "I think we ought to stay tuned. But I think pardoning -- pardoning Scooter Libby would deprive us of a potential witness at some point."
The following video contains clips of Wolf Blitzer's interview with Howard Dean, while the entire transcript can be found at CNN's site: