Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was sentenced to 30 months, and ordered to pay $250,000 in fines.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton (nominated to the position by President George W. Bush in 2001) handed down the sentence minutes ago.

Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice in March, blocking a DoJ investigation into the unauthorized leaking of a CIA covert agent’s identity.

The leaking of the agent’s name, Valerie Plame, was later found to be one component of a conspiracy involving top members of the Bush administration defending its publicly stated, discredited rationales for going to war against Iraq.

The leaking is seen by many as retaliation against a leading war critic, Joseph Wilson, Plame’s husband.

Libby is the highest-ranking government official convicted of a felony since the Iran Contra scandal of the Reagan administration in the 1980s.

Libby's lawyers argued for probation, and many leading right-wingers wrote letters to Judge Walton asking for probation, including former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

According to the blogger Firedoglake, Libby appeared “stiff (and) ghost white” as Walton spoke before handing down his sentence.

It appears that Libby will remain free during appeal.

Update: 14:48:48

Will I. "Scooter" Libby remain free during a possibly lengthy appeals process? Judge Reggie B. Walton who just handed down the 30 month sentence "saw no reason to let Libby remain free pending appeal, Walton said he would accept written arguments on the issue and rule later," the Associated Press reports.