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the Libby Trial

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Author Topic: the Libby Trial  (Read 333 times)
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« on: January 31, 2007, 02:29:42 am »

One-time jailed reporter to be called in CIA leak case
POSTED: 10:52 a.m. EST, January 30, 2007

Story Highlights

Reporter Judith Miller jailed in 2005 for refusing to testify on source of CIA leak
Dick Cheney's present chief of staff is expected to finish testimony Tuesday
Ex-White House press secretary says "Scooter" Libby told him about CIA agent
From Paul Courson

CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A former New York Times reporter who went to jail for refusing to reveal who leaked the name of a CIA operative is expected to take the stand Tuesday in the perjury trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.

Judith Miller served 85 days in jail in 2005 for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating who leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby is accused of lying to a grand jury and to FBI agents when he told them that he learned of Wilson's identity from reporters.

Libby is not charged with leaking the operative's name or CIA connection.
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has used testimony to paint Libby as someone who used lies and deception to try to discredit Bush administration war critic Joseph Wilson, the husband of Valerie Plame Wilson.

Her name and occupation were made public in a column by Robert Novak on July 14, 2003.
Novak's column followed a New York Times op-ed piece by Joseph Wilson challenging a key element of the administration's case for war -- that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger for a nuclear weapons program.

The prosecution called Cheney's present chief of staff, David Addington, on Monday to establish the process he used as Cheney's counsel in 2003 to respond to Justice Department requests for documents as a probe into the leak of the operative's name began.

Addington testified that Libby asked him what he knew about the president's power to declassify documents. Addington said he replied that such power was well-established.

Libby also asked him whether a paper trail exists when the CIA sends someone on a mission. Addington, who once worked at the CIA, testified there would indeed be such paperwork.

Without prodding, Addington added that Libby did not mention the Wilson matter as part of either question.

Libby letter to Miller an issue
Miller, another prosecution witness, was jailed on a contempt charge for refusing to tell investigators that Libby was a source on stories related to the case. She is expected to be called to the stand once lawyers finish with Addington.

Miller was released from jail in September 2005 after Libby signed a waiver allowing her to testify.
After jurors and witnesses were excused for the day Monday, Libby's defense team and prosecutors discussed whether a letter Libby wrote to Miller while she was in jail should be admitted as evidence.

In the letter, Libby expressed feelings to Miller that may have been intended to boost her morale.
The Times' Web site contains this passage from what's called the "Aspen Letter":
"You went into jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to cover -- Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work -- and life. Until then, you will remain in my thoughts and prayers.

With admiration, Scooter Libby."
Fitzgerald convinced the judge Monday not to rule on the letter's admissibility until and unless the government introduces it to the jury.

He said he does not plan to bring it up during his questioning of Miller but said that could change depending on what the defense has in mind during cross-examination. Defense counsel did not disclose whether they intend to bring up the issue, while repeating their opposition to including the letter among the evidence.

Fleischer contradicts Libby account
Earlier Monday, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer testified that Libby told him about the CIA operative three days before the date Libby claims he received that information from a reporter.

Libby's attorneys then sought to shoot down Fleischer's testimony.
Fleischer, press secretary to President Bush from 2001-2003, first testified that Libby told him during lunch on July 7, 2003, that Joseph Wilson was married to Valerie Wilson.

Libby told investigators he learned her identity from "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert on July 10.
In his testimony Monday, Fleischer, who has an immunity deal with the prosecution, recalled that he and Libby discussed Fleischer's plans and their mutual love of the Miami Dolphins football team at the lunch. Libby then turned the conversation to Joseph Wilson, Fleischer said. (Watch how the timeline is key javascript:cnnVideo('play','/video/law/2007/01/25/','2007/02/08'); javascript:cnnVideo('play','/video/law/2007/01/25/','2007/02/08')Wink

Wilson had written an op-ed piece for The New York Times in which he challenged Bush's claim in his 2003 State of the Union that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger.

Before the war, Wilson had made a fact-finding trip to the African country at the request of the CIA, where his wife worked on matters regarding weapons of mass destruction, according to court testimony. He said he had found no evidence of Bush's claim.

Libby said Wilson was given the assignment to go to Niger by his wife, according to Fleischer.
The Wilsons filed a federal lawsuit last year alleging a conspiracy to expose Mrs. Wilson's classified CIA job to reporters to punish Mr. Wilson for questioning the administration's rationale for invading Iraq.

Defense challenges Fleischer
Under cross-examination by Libby's attorney, Fleischer admitted he could not remember whether Libby called Wilson's wife by name.

"On the name piece, I think he told me the name," Fleischer said.
"But you can't be certain of that," defense attorney William Jeffress prodded.
"With absolute certainty, no," Fleischer replied.
Jeffress also picked at a discrepancy in Fleischer's testimony.
In questioning about a CIA report on Wilson's trip to Niger, Fleischer said the report referred to the former ambassador by name.

When confronted with an assertion the report included no such reference, Fleischer testified that perhaps the name was in the redacted portion not available at the trial.

Jeffress then said, "The blacked-out portions of the report do not contain Mr. Wilson's name." Fitzgerald agreed with Jeffress.

Fleischer testified that because Libby didn't tell him that Valerie Wilson's identity was classified, he passed the disclosure off as inside Washington gossip.

"My thought was nepotism," Fleischer said. "Somebody got a job because of a family member's position."
Prosecutors had sought to inoculate Fleischer against attacks on his credibility by having him first describe to jurors details of a grant of immunity he received before testifying.

"My understanding is that I could not be prosecuted for what I did with the information that was provided [by Libby] but could if my statements were untruthful," Fleischer said.

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