Lewis Libby found guilty in CIA leak case
The former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney was found guilty on Tuesday of lying and obstructing a probe related to the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and could face years in prison.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby was acquitted of just one of five counts in the investigation into who blew the cover of a CIA analyst.
The Libby verdict came on the 10th day of jury deliberations and was hailed by Democrats as an appropriate rejection of the administration's case for a war that has become widely unpopular with the US public.
The guilty verdict was the latest in a series of setbacks growing out of the Bush administration's Iraq war policy -- including flawed intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, failure to commit enough troops to quell sectarian violence, prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib, and an outcry over treatment of US war wounded.
Defence attorney Theodore Wells said Libby would seek a new trial, and if denied, would appeal the conviction.
"We have every confidence that ultimately Mr Libby will be vindicated," Wells said.
The trial stemmed from a probe into the leak of CIA analyst Valerie Plame's identity in 2003 after her husband accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to build its case for war.
Libby sat expressionless as the verdict was read in a packed Washington courtroom. His wife wept.
Cheney said he was very disappointed. "Scooter served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction through many years of public service," he said in a statement.
No charges were brought for the actual leaking of Plame's name. As Cheney's chief of staff, Libby tried in conversations with reporters to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, by implying an overseas trip he made to determine whether Iraq sought nuclear material was a junket set up by his wife.
"I would hope that Mr. Libby and all other officials in the US government would draw the right lesson from this. And the right lesson to learn from this is you don't abuse the public trust engaging in personal vendettas," Wilson told reporters.
Critics of President George W Bush had seized on the Libby trial as showing the heavy-handed way the White House operated, and accused the administration of hypocrisy over its promises of clean government.
"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," said House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"It's about time someone in the Bush administration has been held accountable," added Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid.
Libby, who resigned when he was charged in October 2005, was found guilty of one count of obstructing the investigation into the Plame leak, two counts of perjury before a grand jury and one count of making false statements to the FBI.
He was acquitted of a second count of making false statements
Libby faces a maximum of 25 years in prison and $1 million in fines, but experts predicted he would likely serve fewer than five.
Herb Hoelter, co-founder of the nonprofit National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, said US courts have wide leeway but "you're probably talking in the one-, two-, three-year range."
Bush 'saddened' for Libby
Bush watched television coverage of the verdict, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
"He said that he respected the jury's verdict. He said he was saddened for Scooter Libby and his family," Perino said, refusing to speculate on the possibility of a presidential pardon.
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said the CIA leak investigation was over and would not extend to other administration officials.
"I do not expect to file any additional charges," he said.
Prosecutors called a parade of government officials to bolster their charge that Libby had lied when he said he learned about Plame from NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert. The jury found Libby guilty on both charges involving Russert, who said Plame never came up in their conversation.
Former Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand Thursday evening following his departure from Singapore. Rajapaksa was granted entry into Thailand following a request from the Sri Lankan government, NewsWire reported. He left Singapore on Thursday after nearly a month's stay in Singapore. Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced the official resignation of Rajapaksa on July 15. Sri Lanka has been facing its worst economic crisis since its independence.
China's high-tech Chinese research vessel, which was to dock at Sri Lanka's Hambantota Port, won't reach there as scheduled, according to a media report on Thursday, citing the port authorities. Newsfirst.lk website reported that the Harbour Master for the Hambantota Port said no vessel can enter the port without his permission. It said the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship 'Yuan Wang 5' will not reach Hambantota Port on Thursday.
The average price of US retail gasoline fell below $4 per gallon on Thursday for the first time in months, giving some relief to drivers in the world's largest consumer of the fuel. The national average price for regular unleaded gas fell to $3.990 a gallon on Thursday, according to the American Automobile Association. The latest price drop may help President Joe Biden's administration and Democrats in Congress during November's midterm elections.
Russia and Ukraine accused each other of new shelling near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday ahead of a UN Security Council meeting to address concerns over the facility's security. Kyiv nuclear agency Energoatom said later that there had been fresh Russian shelling near one of the plant's six reactors that had caused "extensive smoke" and "several radiation sensors are damaged". The Security Council is expected to meet at 1900 GMT.
Much like with Covid-19, the monkeypox health crisis in the US is hitting Black and Hispanic Americans hard. Yet those groups are so far lagging in vaccination rates, early data obtained by Bloomberg News show. In some major US cities with outbreaks, White people are getting the majority of vaccinations, data collected by Bloomberg show. In Chicago, 55% of vaccines have gone to White people. In Washington, D.C., 63.5% of vaccine recipients identify as White.