Some Thoughts On The Libby Verdict

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald convinced a jury that Scooter Libby – the Vice President's top aide and confidant – lied to a grand jury.

That is serious business.

But, here's the part I don't understand. What the prosecutor had set out to do – what the case was all about – was to determine if someone had broken the law by knowingly revealing the identity of secret intelligence agent Valerie Plame.

Did any of that ever happen? Was a law actually broken? If the prosecutor found such evidence, he must not have found much because no charge was ever filed. We don't even know if she was a secret agent covered by that law.

Nor will we ever.

Fitzgerald spent millions of dollars, hauled reporters before grand juries, forced them to reveal sources, even put one in jail and kept her there for months. But, once he convicted Libby of lying, he said he planned no other action.

Sure, the trial produced valuable information. We found out that top officials of the government apparently lie, spend a lot of time trying to manipulate the press, are quick to demean and discredit their critics, and when such hardball tactics backfire, find themselves paying an embarrassing political price.

But when these investigations drag on for years, when prosecutors spend millions of our tax dollars, when reporters are forced to tell grand juries who in the government they have been talking to, shouldn't we expect more for our money?

Shouldn't we at least be told if a law was broken, and whether Ms. Plame's identity was even covered by that law?

E-mail Face the Nation.

By Bob Schieffer


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