If Mr Libby were to remain free pending appeals -- there'd be plenty of time for Mr Bush to put off a politically destructive pardon until after the 2008 elections. From the Washington Post:
US District Judge Reggie Walton -- a 2001 Bush appointee to the federal bench -- doesn't believe Mr Libby has much of a chance on appeal. He plans to order Mr Libby to report to prison ASAP and start serving time.
But a pardon almost certainly would touch off a wave of political trouble for a White House already suffering some of the worst poll numbers in modern times. Bush critics have said a pardon would show a reckless disregard for rule of law in a case that concerned whether the administration misled the public to justify war with Iraq.
Mr Libby's lawyers have a chance next week -- during one last hearing -- to change the judge's mind. If they can't change his mind -- Mr Libby would have 45-60 days to report to prison. (WaPo)