Former Bush administration official, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail today for perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to events leading to the Iraq war.
Libby, 54, was chief of staff and national security adviser to the vice-president, Dick Cheney, one of the leading advocates of the invasion. He is the highest-level US official to be sentenced to jail since the Iran-Contra affair two decades ago.
The verdict could further dent the fast-diminishing reputation of the Bush administration, which already has record low poll ratings.
Libby is expected to appeal, which could delay his going to prison. He could also avoid jail if president George Bush chooses to pardon him.
Libby, squeezed between two of his defence team, stood in the US district court in Washington before Judge Reggie Walton, who said he had to balance Libby’s record of service to the country against a need to punish those who lie under oath.
Judge Walton said that people occupying high office had a duty not to step over the line because it brought into disrespect the US system of government. “It’s important that we expect and demand a lot from people who put themselves in those positions,” he said.