- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 29, 2005

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. quietly rose to the highest corridors of power in Washington only to be brought down in a scandal that thrust him into the limelight that he so explicitly avoided.

Mr. Libby, indicted yesterday on charges of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice, has a scholar’s demeanor and is known among colleagues for his analytical approach, which made him valuable as the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Yale graduate and Columbia Law School-trained lawyer developed foreign policy expertise while an aide in the Defense and State departments, and was known as “Cheney’s Cheney.”

“He is to the vice president what the vice president is to the president,” said Mary Matalin, who worked with Mr. Libby as an adviser to Mr. Cheney during President Bush’s first term.

She described Mr. Libby, who resigned yesterday, as a deep thinker and problem-solver who gives “discreet advice.”

In his roles as Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff and adviser to Mr. Bush, Mr. Libby participated in many aspects of White House policy-making, particularly national security. He was an expert in homeland security and weapons of mass destruction even before September 11, 2001, and used that knowledge to shape administration policy after the terrorist attacks.

He prepared a thick document that argued the case for going to war based on Saddam Hussein’s reputed weapons program. Mr. Libby presented the information to others on the White House national security team and it reportedly became the basis for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s presentation to the United Nations.

Those who worked with Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney said they were a good cerebral match, and Mr. Libby wasn’t afraid to speak up when he saw things differently than the vice president.

“There’s clearly comfortable enough a relationship there that he doesn’t hesitate to disagree with the vice president or offer a different opinion or an unpopular opinion,” said Republican consultant Stuart Stevens, who became a friend of Mr. Libby’s after helping prepare Mr. Cheney for the 2000 vice presidential debate.

Mr. Libby clearly understood the power of information leaked to the press, as the grand jury investigation showed. While Mr. Libby avoided television appearances and rarely was quoted by name, he would talk to a few reporters on background.

Two reporters — Time magazine’s Matt Cooper and the New York Times’ Judith Miller — said Mr. Libby told them the identity of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame. At the time, Mrs. Plame’s husband was publicly criticizing the administration’s case for Iraq war — a case that Mr. Libby was instrumental in helping to make.

Born in Connecticut, Mr. Libby attended Phillips Academy, an elite private school in Massachusetts. He graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1972 and got a law degree from Columbia University three years later.

At Yale, Mr. Libby took a political science course with future World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary, who chose him in 1981 to serve in the State Department in the Reagan administration. Mr. Libby later served in the Pentagon under the first President Bush.

While rising in government, Mr. Libby also explored his creative side by writing a novel called “The Apprentice,” an exotic story of romance and intrigue set in 1903 Japan that won praise from literary critics. Published in 1996, the novel was released in paperback in 2002.

Former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson IV, Mrs. Plame’s husband and an administration critic, has said he believes Mr. Libby may have been part of a White House campaign to “smear” him.

Mr. Wolfowitz said Mr. Libby has never been “a rabidly partisan political type.”

“There is a difference between people who focus on policy and people who believe it’s my party right or wrong — that’s not Scooter,” he said.

Before he worked for Mr. Cheney, Mr. Libby was a managing partner at the international law firm Dechert, Price and Rhoads.

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