The President of the United States has intervened to prevent Lewis Libby, a convicted former vice-presidential aide, from serving a prison term. George W Bush described as “excessive” the 30 month sentence handed down to Libby for having obstructed an inquiry into the leaking of a CIA agent’s name. The 56-year-old was convicted in March on four of five counts in an investigation into who blew the cover of Valerie Plame, whose husband was an outspoken Iraq war critic.
Plame’s identity was leaked in 2003 after her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of manipulating intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to build its case for war. Libby will still serve two years’ probation and pay a fine of more than 183 000 euros. He has launched an appeal. Bush’s decision to avoid an outright pardon is being seen as a nod to the fact that the legal process has not yet run its course.