Wilson: Questions Remain Over CIA Leak

In this photograph provided by 'Face The Nation', former Amb. Joe Wilson pauses after talking about the grand jury investigation into the leak of the identity of his wife, undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, during the taping of 'Face the Nation' Sunday, July 17, 2005 at the CBS studios in Washington. (AP Photo/Face The Nation, Karin Cooper) AP/Face The Nation/Karen Cooper

Former Ambassador Joe Wilson said Wednesday that he and his wife, Valerie Plame, feel a "sense of personal relief" at the conviction of former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby, but don't consider the case closed by any means

Libby, the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted Tuesday of lying and obstructing an investigation into the leak of Plame's identity as a CIA operative. He was the highest-ranking White House official convicted in a government scandal since the Iran-Contra arms and money affair two decades ago.

Despite the conviction, Wilson said he and Plame are moving ahead with a civil suit, alleging the White House was behind the leak.

Wilson told CBS News' The Early Show that President Bush and Vice President Cheney "really need to step forward and reassure the American people that they had nothing to do with this - or explain to the American people what they had to do with it."

Wilson said he and his wife are going forward with their civil suit against the vice president, White House political adviser Karl Rove and others, because they "want the whole story to come out."

The trial revealed Cheney's eagerness to discredit Wilson, an outspoken critic of the Bush administration's Iraq war policy, as well as the administration's policies on talking to reporters and its strategies for dealing with a crisis.

But the case offered little new information about whether Mr. Bush was involved or whether he authorized any leaks. Defense attorneys never delivered Cheney or Libby to the witness stand as promised to discuss the White House effort to undermine Wilson's credibility, a campaign that resulted in the disclosure of his wife's job at the CIA.

Libby's attorneys offered few details about a supposed White House conspiracy to protect Rove from prosecution.

It also was never explained why former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who originally leaked Plame's identity, was never charged.

Now that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald says his investigation is complete, those questions are likely to go unanswered. Nobody will be charged with actually leaking Plame's identity. Libby was convicted of lying to cover up his conversations about Plame.

"The results are actually sad," Fitzgerald told reporters after the federal jury's verdict. "It's sad that we had a situation where a high-level official person who worked in the office of the vice president obstructed justice and lied under oath. We wish that it had not happened, but it did."

One juror said Libby was being made a scapegoat.

"There was a tremendous amount of sympathy for Mr. Libby on the jury. It was said a number of times, 'What are we doing with this guy here? Where's Rove? Where are these other guys?'" juror Denis Collins said. "I'm not saying we didn't think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of. It seemed like he was, as Mr. Wells put it, he was the fall guy."

Libby's fate remains unclear. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced June 5, but his federal sentencing guidelines are much lower. His lawyers promised to ask for a new trial and said they'll ask that Libby remain free while any appeals are fought.

"We have every confidence Mr. Libby ultimately will be vindicated," defense attorney Theodore Wells said. He said Libby was "totally innocent and that he did not do anything wrong."

And then there's the lingering question of whether Mr. Bush will pardon Libby, as the president's father did in 1992 for former Reagan administration officials caught up in the scandal that grew out of arms sales to Iran and the diversion of proceeds to the Nicaraguan rebels.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., immediately called on Mr. Bush not to pardon Libby. The White House wouldn't say what the president might do.

  • Scott Conroy On Twitter»

    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.

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