Valerie Plame Leak Investigation Cost Government $2.58 Million

The CIA leak probe cost $2.58 million, the Government Accountability Office disclosed Monday, wrapping up an investigation that ensnared Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff for perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI.

The office of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald spent the money over a 45-month span that saw the indictment, trial and conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The investigation also touched on other officials in the State Department and the White House, including presidential political adviser Karl Rove, who leaked the CIA identity of Valerie Plame.

"This matter is now concluded for all practical purposes," reported the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress. The office of special counsel will continue to incur small expenses for limited purposes, such as responding to congressional requests for information.

The spending total consists of figures from eight reports issued by the GAO since early 2004, with the latest issued Monday. It showed $187,420 in expenditures for the six months ending last Sept. 30.

At the height of Fitzgerald's work, the office spent $770,838 for the six months ending March 31, 2007, the month a jury convicted Cheney's former chief of staff.

Couched in the language of government bureaucrats and auditors, the latest GAO report summarized what happened next to Libby, described in the document only as an administration official.

"On July 2, 2007, the president of the United States commuted the prison term imposed by the sentencing judge upon the administration official who was convicted after a jury trial. On Dec. 11, 2007, the administration official dropped his appeal of his convictions," the GAO report concluded.

Sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to 30 months in prison for his conviction, Libby ended up paying a $250,000 fine and is on two years probation, all that remains from President Bush's commutation of Libby's prison term.

Bush called the sentence excessive. Walton said he was "somewhat perplexed" as to how the sentence could be accurately described as "excessive." The 2 1/2-year sentence was at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines, the judge noted.