Dear Judge Walton...

Ward Sloane is a CBS News producer based in Washington.
(Getty Images/Win McNamee)
U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton threw the book at Scooter Libby for lying to a grand jury and obstructing justice. Judge Walton is known for stiff sentences, so this case is no surprise. He did, however, get a lot of advice from Americans as to what Libby's sentence should be.

Some 160 Americans wrote letters to Judge Walton. People speculated for weeks over whether Vice President Dick Cheney would write Walton on Mr. Libby's behalf. He did not, nor did the president. The two most famous were Donald Rumsfeld and Henry Kissinger; both recommended no jail time.

Many of the architects and supporters of the Iraq War – men who were integral to planning and executing the war – did weigh in and advocated leniency for Libby. These include Ken Adelman, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, Gen. Richard Myers, Paul Wolfowitz, Gen. Peter Pace and Richard Perle.

There were no famous names calling for Judge Walton to throw the book at Libby. Those expressing this sentiment were average Americans.

One man who signed off aptly as "Angry Citizen," wrote, "I hope you impose the longest possible prison term for Mr. Libby…Unfortunately, I would like to see Mr. Rove or Vice President Cheney behind bars so, in a sense, Mr. Libby is their proxy. He was the puppet, but they pulled the strings."

Another wrote simply, "Scooter must be jailed." This was a hand-written note by someone named Tripp Badger. W. E. Buffington also sent Judge Walton a handwritten note: "My father once told me that the lowest a man can get is to attack another man's wife because he is too cowardly to attack the husband directly."

These anti-Libby notes were a distinct minority. Most of the letters from friends and long-time associates of Libby were both adamant and eloquent in defending him. The official photographer for the Vice President wrote, "Scooter is the kind of man who stands up when a woman enters the room, holds the door for everyone, and always has time for you." The chief flight attendant aboard Air Force Two, the Vice President's plane, wrote Walton that Libby always had time for the little guy.

Time was a major theme among Scooter supporters. Ironically, many of the letters written to Judge Walton fulfilled what the defense seemed to promise IT would provide at the beginning of the trial. Namely, that Libby was so busy defending the country against terrorism and rogue states that he just forgot about conversations he had with reporters.

Here's John Bolton, the hard-edged one time Ambassador to the United Nations. "In the face of all these demands, keeping every detail straight is impossible. No one has a photographic memory, and no one has perfect recall…I hope to convey that Scooter Libby was busy with matters of state of the highest urgency and moment for the American people."

But time factored into another category of letters: Scooter Libby as true friend and honest gentleman. This Scooter was devoted to his friends and family. This Scooter had plenty of time – despite his "extremely busy work schedule" – to check in on neighbors, friends, children and associates. This Scooter gave up one Sunday morning to speak to former law school colleagues and invited others to join an informal Sunday football game.

Jane C. Atkinson, a dentist, wrote, "Several times, he took time out from his incredibly busy schedule to check on the kids and make sure we were managing." (And her husband had been a reporter in Iraq during the spring of 2003).

While these testimonials to Mr. Libby's humanity are really very nice, they may explain why the Libby's lawyers didn't press the "he was too busy to remember defense." After-all, a man can't be too busy to forget conversations with reporters about covert employees of the CIA but not so busy that he has time to check in on the neighbors – let alone remember that the neighbors need checking on.