In a statement following the resignation, Cheney called Libby "one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known." Since 2001, that talent has been at the disposal of the Vice President. Within the Administration, Libby, 55, is known as "Cheney's Cheney." But he also concurrently held, until today, the posts of Assistant to the President and National Security Adviser to the Vice President, titles that indicate his particular importance in the run-up to the Iraq war and in the debate over weapons of mass destruction that eventually led to Plamegate.
In 1992, disappointed that the Gulf War had not removed Saddam Hussein from power, Libby and Wolfowitz drafted a paper that broached a policy of pre-emptive action. That paper foreshadowed Libby's hawkish position on Iraq a decade later. After George W. Bush's election in 2000, Cheney tapped the like-minded Libby to be his right-hand man. In the months before the Iraq war, Libby, Cheney and Wolfowitz formed the core of an influential group of neoconservatives that pushed President Bush to remove Saddam Hussein from office. Their ideas and their respect wereand aremutual. "I'm a great fan of the Vice President," Libby told Larry King in 2002. "I think he's one of the smartest, most honorable people I've ever met."
Libby's own smarts extend beyond politics. In 1996, while in private practice as an attorney in Washington, he published a novel called The Apprentice, about a young man named Setsuo in turn-of-the-century Japan who becomes enmeshed in a web of crime, political drama, and, of course, love. Of all the characters in the book, it's the mysterious object of Setsuo's affections"the girl in the cloak"who seems to parallel Libby most now. Publishers Weekly said in its review of The Apprentice that "her actions, history and motives remain ambiguous to the end."
In his 2002 talk with Larry King, Libby also discussed the prerogatives of the presidency and the opinion of Dick Cheney that certain things have to be handled away from the public view. "He firmly believesbelieves to the point where, when he talks about it, his eyes get a little bluerthat for the presidency to operate properly, it needs to be able to have confidential communications," Libby said. The question now is whether some of Libby's own confidential communications will in fact hinder the presidency it was meant to help.