Here's my Guardian column explaining all the involvement of Cheney and Bush in the Plame outing--which explains why Bush didn't want Libby to lose his ability to refuse to testify.
On June 9, 2003, just one day after his national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, got beaten up on the Sunday shows for claiming no one in the administration knew that the Niger intelligence was bunk, George Bush expressed concern about the allegations. Scooter Libby passed on that concern to vice president Cheney. Bush's concern set off a chain of events that ended up in the outing of a CIA spy, Valerie Plame, and the indictment and conviction of Scooter Libby.
Yesterday, George Bush attempted to prevent that chain of events from continuing any further. He commuted Scooter Libby's 30-month sentence. Rather than serving time in jail, Libby will remain free, with a fine and probation as the only remaining punishments for lying and obstructing a criminal investigation. But the real effect of Bush's actions is to prevent Libby from revealing the truth about Bush's - and vice president Cheney's - own actions in the leak. By commuting Libby's sentence, Bush protected himself and his vice president from potential criminal exposure for their actions in the CIA Leak. As such, Libby's commutation is nothing short of another obstruction of justice.
There are many unanswered questions about the roles of the president, the vice president, and Libby in the leak of Valerie Plame's identity. Did Bush really ask Libby to take the lead on all this? Did the president declassify Plame's identity so Libby could leak it to the press? Did Cheney learn - and tell Libby - that Plame was covert? Those questions all point squarely at Bush and Cheney personally. But because of Bush's personal intervention, he has made sure that Scooter Libby won't be answering those questions anytime soon.
And here's a link to my appearance on Democracy Now this morning.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence? He won’t serve a day in jail.
MARCY WHEELER: It’s not surprising in the least. George Bush and Dick Cheney couldn’t afford the risk that Libby would flip on them rather than go do jail time, but it is pretty disgusting, I think.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain that. What do you mean they couldn’t afford him to flip on them?
MARCY WHEELER: Well, the whole point of the obstruction of justice was that Libby was refusing to answer certain questions that really pointed right towards especially Dick Cheney, but even George Bush himself. The best example is that after reading Joe Wilson's op-ed, Vice President Cheney ordered Scooter Libby to leak something to Judy Miller. And then, following that, Scooter Libby proceeded to leak Valerie Plame’s identity and the contents of the CIA report on Joe Wilson’s trip. Now, Scooter Libby says that he was ordered to leak the NIE, the National Intelligence Estimate, but that doesn’t make any sense, given the rest of his story, so it seems logical and probable that Dick Cheney in fact ordered Scooter Libby to leak Valerie Plame's identity, but by lying, Scooter Libby has protected the Vice President from any kind of criminal implication from his actions.
AMY GOODMAN: And how does President Bush wiping out his jail time protect Bush and Cheney?
MARCY WHEELER: Well, in some ways, the commutation is actually worse than a pardon, because with a commutation, Scooter Libby still retains his Fifth Amendment privileges. So if John Conyers tomorrow called up Scooter Libby and said, “We’ve got to talk. I’d like to know exactly what happened when Dick Cheney ordered you to leak something classified to Judy Miller. I want to know whether President Bush actually did declassify it or whether Vice President Cheney was just making that up” -- he does that, and Scooter Libby just says, “I plead the Fifth,” and we still don’t get -- “we” as American citizens don’t get to understand what our president and what our vice president did to retaliate against somebody who was just exercising his First Amendment speech rights.