It sure seems that way. Remember Cheney's statement about how sad he was that his firewall actually may have to do time for serving as a firewall?
Scooter has dedicated much of his life to public service at the State Department, the Department of Defense and the White House. In each of these assignments he has served the nation tirelessly and with great distinction. I relied on him heavily in my capacity as Secretary of Defense and as Vice President. I have always considered him to be a man of the highest intellect, judgment and personal integrity-a man fully committed to protecting the vital security interests of the United States and its citizens. Scooter is also a friend, and on a personal level Lynne and I remain deeply saddened by this tragedy and its effect on his wife, Harriet, and their young children. The defense has indicated it plans to appeal the conviction in the case. Speaking as friends, we hope that our system will return a final result consistent with what we know of this fine man. [my emphasis]
Well, I didn't get a hard copy of that statement (go figure). But apparently the Tribune company did. And The Swamp's Frank James noticed something curious about the statement:
Unlike most White House press releases, this particular one gave as a contact someone at the Williams and Connolly law firm.
Terrence O'Donnell, Cheney's personal lawyer, is a partner Williams and Connolly.
All of which suggests that Cheney, struggling to find a way to say that Libby's sentencing was wrong without risking obstruction charges, went to his lawyer and (I presume) inserted such caveats as "speaking as friends" before he started making wholesale attacks on the verdict.
This is no doubt a new wrinkle to the unitary executive myth. Cheney believes, of course, that he is not subject to legislative oversight because he is technically President of the Senate. Yet he is also entitled to executive privilege as the second-ranking member of the executive branch. Apparently, there's a new privilege he's working on, in which he can say anything in the voice of a "personal friend" and have that caveat negate any legal responsibility for his statements.
And one more thing: this was released very quickly after the verdict, by the time I made it back to any press coverage on Tuesday. That says Cheney had his lawyer ready to make this statement at the drop of a hat. Mr. O'Donnell is exhibiting the same remarkable turnaround time as Robert Bork.