"Scooter" Libby drops appeal in CIA leak case
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has dropped his appeal in a perjury case that fueled debate over the Iraq war, his attorney said on Monday.
Libby was found guilty in March of lying and obstructing an investigation into who blew the cover of a CIA officer, Valerie Plame, whose husband had criticized the Iraq war.
President George W. Bush commuted his 2 1/2-year prison sentence in July, but the former chief of staff to Cheney still had to pay a $250,000 fine.
"We remain firmly convinced of Mr. Libby's innocence," attorney Ted Wells said in a statement. "However, the realities were, that after five years of government service by Mr. Libby and several years of defending against this case, the burden on Mr. Libby and his young family of continuing to pursue his complete vindication are too great to ask them to bear."
High-powered allies like Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson raised millions of dollars to cover Libby's steep legal bills.
Bush, who leaves office in January 2009, has not ruled out a full pardon for Libby.
"There's a pardon process that anyone can seek, and we do not comment on whether or not anyone would receive a presidential pardon," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Libby's case put the interior workings of the White House under a microscope and ignited a debate about whether the Bush administration misled the nation into war in Iraq.
Plame, a CIA analyst, said her unmasking destroyed her career and was done to retaliate against her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to build its case for war.
Libby was one of several Bush administration officials -- another was top Bush aide Karl Rove -- who discussed Plame with reporters at a time when her employment status was classified.
Nobody was charged with blowing Plame's cover, but Libby was found guilty of obstruction of justice, making false statements to the FBI and two counts of perjury. He was found not guilty of one charge of making false statements.
(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria, editing by Sandra Maler)