Speaking a few paces from Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's offices, former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney said today that his former chief of staff did not deserve prosecution by the federal prosecutor in the Valerie Plame case.
“Well, I obviously had some fundamental disagreements with him at one point in the past,” Cheney told a luncheon audience of more than 400 people at the Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson Blvd., when asked if he had anything to say to Fitzgerald.
“My friend ‘Scooter’ Libby is a very good man. He gave up a very successful private life in order to serve the nation on two separate occasions. For his trouble, he ended up a target of that particular prosecution. I will always think that he did not deserve that,” Cheney said.
Fitzgerald, acting as a special prosecutor, indicted Libby as part of the investigation into who leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the late columnist Robert Novak. Indicted in October 2005 on charges of perjury, obstruction and making false statements, Libby was convicted at trial and sentenced to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In July 2007, then-President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s sentence to 30 months behind bars, but rejected Cheney’s request for the president to grant a pardon.
Cheney acknowledged that he also had “disagreements” with others in the Bush administration over the investigation and has criticized then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and Powell’s deputy, Richard Armitage, for not coming forward about the leak. During Libby’s trial, it emerged that Armitage was a source of Plame’s identity.
When the event's moderator noted Fitzgerald’s office was literally across the street from where Cheney was speaking, the former vice president responded, “Is he looking for me?”
Unlike Cheney’s measured criticism, his daughter, Liz, told the crowd that Libby’s prosecution “was a tremendous miscarriage of justice.”
“I think that Patrick Fitzgerald knew when he came in as a special prosecutor that Rich Armitage was the leaker and yet that investigation continued,” she said. “And it got to the point where somebody had to be indicted for something. And an innocent man was indicted wrongly and I think it’s a shameful disgrace.”
The appearance by the Cheneys was part of a book tour for “In My Time,” a biography of the former vice president that the two co-wrote. In the book, Dick Cheney is critical of Powell and Armitage for not revealing the source of the leak to the president.
Fitzgerald, in his 10th year as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, has been a leading figure in the prosecution of political corruption cases, including gaining convictions against former Govs. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, and George Ryan, a Republican.
Fitzgerald declined comment through a spokesman.