Convicted felon I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who was found guilty in a sensational leak case, has resurfaced on the fringes of government in an unpaid position on a biodefense advisory panel whose experts will testify at a House hearing Wednesday.
Libby was listed as an ex-officio member of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, which is privately funded by the conservative Hudson Institute and several corporations and pharmaceutical companies.
Expert members of the Study Panel, including Kenneth L. Wainstein, a former assistant attorney general for National Security and Homeland Security adviser to former President George W. Bush, were scheduled to testify Wednesday afternoon before the House Armed Services Committee at a hearing on "Outside Views on Biodefense for the Department of Defense."
The Army scandal last year on the shipment of live anthrax to all 50 states and around the world has renewed concerns on biodefense issues.
The study panel is co-chaired by former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, and former Gov. Tom Ridge, R-Pennsylvania. Members of the panel include prominent Democrats such as former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-Montana, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.
The bipartisan study panel issued a lengthy report last October charging that the U.S. was unprepared for attack by biological weapons and lacked centralized planning to mount a defense.
Libby, 65, the former chief of staff and assistant to Cheney for National Security Affairs, was indicted in October 2005 by a federal grand jury in the leak of the covert identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame. She was the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who had rebutted a Bush administration claim that uranium was secretly being shipped from Niger to Iraq.
In March 2007, Libby was convicted by a federal jury of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and two counts of perjury. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison but the sentence later was commuted by President Bush. Bush's refusal to grant a pardon reportedly led to friction with Cheney.
Defenders of the Bush administration and Libby maintain that he was made a scapegoat by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, whose main targets in the investigation allegedly were Cheney and top Bush political adviser Karl Rove.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at email@example.com.