Letters on Scooter Libby Released by Court

Letters sent to Judge Reggie B. Walton regarding the sentencing of vice presidential aide Lewis I. “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of obstruction of justice, were released by the court (large pdf) today. Several of them touched on matters of secrecy and national security policy.

“If there is anyone who fully understands our ‘system’ for protecting classified information, I have yet to meet him,” wrote John R. Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations, implying that infractions of classification rules are to be expected.

Former CIA officer Fritz Ermarth recalled that Mr. Libby had assisted him “in a matter, although less grave, somewhat similar to that which put him on trial. It concerned official secrecy and classification, its definition and interpretation, varying recollections of who behaved how with respect to it, and aspects of abuse by authorities.”

“Mr. Libby has done more to enable the United States to address the challenges of bioterrorism than any other single person,” ventured Seth Carus of National Defense University.

“Scooter worried that liberties restricted during times of danger do not always get restored when the danger passes,” wrote Doug Feith, the controversial former Pentagon official. “A major part of the terrorist threat, he and I agreed, was the danger that a series of 9/11-type attacks could fundamentally alter — perhaps permanently — the state of civil liberties in America.”

Somewhat ironically, Mr. Libby once undertook “to persuade a newspaper not to publish information that would have endangered the life of a covert CIA agent working overseas,” wrote former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz. “Late into the evening, long after most others had left the matter to be dealt with the next day, Mr. Libby worked to collect the information that was needed to persuade the editor not to run the story.”

Most of the letters favor clemency for Mr. Libby. Many of them are poignant and heartfelt. Quite a few others are pompous and self-aggrandizing. An angry minority demand the maximum possible sentence.

The full set of letters in alphabetical order by author may be found here (373 pages in an 18 MB PDF file).

Mr. Libby was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and fined $250,000.

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