When Libby was under investigation, the prosecutor informed him the real target was Vice President Dick Cheney, not him. Libby was Cheney’s deputy. “The prosecutor wanted me to make something up about Cheney,” Libby says. He refused. And wound up being prosecuted for his courage.

That moment was a critical one in the Iraq war. It came during George W. Bush’s second term, when the war was going poorly. Cheney was a champion of the “surge” to counter Islamic insurgents. The other top national security officials were opposed. Had Libby testified against Cheney, the veep would have been tossed aside, the surge abandoned, and the outcome in Iraq hard to imagine. With Cheney saved, Iraq was too.

Only in the top reaches of the Bush administration was this known. But imagine if the war had been lost thanks to negotiations in a prosecutor’s office. America’s role in the world would be different today and not better.