Newsweek magazine has a story that is out on its online edition speculating that Bush won't pardon Libby until the very end of his presidency. The article goes into some detail about how the Libby case violates the standards for pardons that Bush has allegedly been using. Now we all know that Bush could give a fig about his adherence to standards, his or anyone else's. The real reason why Bush can't pardon Libby right now is that it deprives him of the answer his press secretary gives whenever he is asked about anything to do with the Plame outing: "We can't talk about that because it is in litigation."
This administration has been using that particular dodge to get out of explaining to the media why King Karl Rove hasn't been fired for leaking Valerie Plame's name to the media. Back in 2003, when this all started, Bush said that he would fire anyone who leaked the name of a CIA agent to the media. Under that standard, KKR should have been fired a long time ago. Since, however, he is Bush's brain, that wouldn't have worked out very well. So they had to invent a reason not to answer the question about why Rove is still working at the White House. Presto, the excuse of "we can't talk about that because it is in litigation" was born.
If Bush pardoned Libby, however, there would be no appeal and the excuse would be gone. Because the Bushies use that particular excuse to avoid answering tough questions about Rove, don't expect a pardon of Libby for several months, right around January 19, 2009.