WASHINGTON – Campaigning in 2000, George Bush promised he would swear on the Bible to restore honor and dignity to a sullied White House and give it “one heck of a scrubbing.” The conviction of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby gave the White House a scrubbing – but not the one Bush had in mind. The case laid bare the inner workings of a presidency under siege and the secretive world of Vice President Dick Cheney. It showed the lengths to which Cheney went in early summer 2003 to discredit administration critic Joseph Wilson. The former ambassador’s assertions had cast doubt on the administration’s justification for having taken the country to war in Iraq. And the Libby case showed the president assisting Cheney in the leaked attacks on Wilson. Libby, who was Cheney’s chief of staff, was found guilty on Tuesday of four of five counts of obstructing justice, lying and perjury during an investigation into the administration’s disclosure of the identity of undercover CIA official Valerie Plame, Wilson’s wife. The verdict “does great damage to the Bush administration,” said Paul C. Light, professor of public service at New York University. “It undermines the president’s pledge of ethical conduct. But the most serious consequence is that it will raise questions about Cheney’s durability in office. It may be time for Cheney to submit his resignation.” But don’t count on it. Bush in the past has repeatedly come to the defense of his vice president. The trial leaves a trail of unanswered questions leading to the doorsteps of Bush and Cheney. Testimony and evidence did not clear up whether they directed the leaking of Plame’s identity to the news media. But the trial did show Bush declassified prewar intelligence that Libby leaked to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, a plan carried out in such secrecy that no one in the government except Bush, Cheney and Libby even knew about it. Testimony showed the vice president was aware early on that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and told Libby about it. Cheney even scribbled a note to himself a week before Wilson’s wife was exposed asking whether she had sent her husband on the CIA mission to Africa that triggered the controversy. Cheney also directed Libby to speak with selected reporters to counter Wilson’s accusations. Cheney developed talking points on the matter for the White House press office. He helped draft a statement by then-CIA Director George Tenet. And he moved to declassify some intelligence material to bolster the case against Wilson. Cheney said in a statement that he was “very disappointed with the verdict” and that Libby had “served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction.” Cheney said he would withhold further comment because Libby was seeking a new trial or, if necessary, an appeal. Libby was the only one charged in the case, and he was not charged with deliberately disclosing Plame’s identity, which can be a federal crime, but with lying to investigators and a grand jury. Testimony showed there were other leakers, including adviser Karl Rove, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. The White House has never corrected the denials it issued in the fall of 2003 saying neither Rove nor Libby was involved in the leak of Plame’s CIA identity. Political observers doubt any correction will be made. “What’s really focused people’s attention is the loss of American troops in Iraq and it’s allowed Bush, Cheney and Rove – once he wasn’t indicted – to kind of be pushed off the radar screen” regarding the Plame affair, presidential historian Robert Dallek said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!