News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cheney aide Libby charged in leak probe - Yahoo! News

By Adam Entous and James Vicini

Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, was indicted on Friday for obstructing justice, perjury and lying after a two-year CIA leak investigation, another blow to the White House that raises the specter of a politically damaging trial.

Libby, who could face up to 30 years in prison, resigned minutes after the indictment was handed up in federal court in Washington. In a statement, Cheney said Libby would "fight the charges brought against him."

President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was not indicted along with Libby, but special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has made clear to Rove he remains under investigation and in legal jeopardy, lawyers said.

Libby's indictment and resignation was another setback to a White House already on the defensive over the bungled initial response to Hurricane Katrina, growing opposition to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of Bush's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Miers under fire from Bush's conservative base.

At a news conference after the grand jury acted, Fitzgerald said his investigation was continuing but he declined to discuss anyone who was not charged.

"It's not over," he told reporters.

Despite initial denials, both Rove and Libby spoke to reporters in June and July 2003 about the CIA operative, Valerie Plame, whose identify was leaked to the media.

Libby, who played a major behind-the-scenes role in building the case for the Iraq war, was accused in the five-count indictment of making false statements about how and when he learned and disclosed to reporters classified information about Plame.

Plame's identity was leaked to the media after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence to support military action against Iraq. Wilson said it was done deliberately to erode his credibility.

Libby was not charged with illegally disclosing the name of a CIA operative. The charges were the first brought as part of the investigation.

If convicted, Libby, 55, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine, prosecutors said.

The charges accuse Libby of lying to FBI agents who interviewed him on October 14, 2003, and November 26, 2003, committing perjury while testifying under oath to the grand jury twice in March 2004, and engaging in obstruction of justice by impeding the grand jury's investigation.


"When citizens testify before grand juries, they are required to tell the truth," Fitzgerald said. "The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens including persons who hold high positions in government."

At the news conference, Fitzgerald said Libby had provided FBI agents with a "compelling story" indicating he was simply the recipient of information about Plame from reporters.

"He lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly," Fitzgerald said.

The leak case has put a spotlight on the sometimes aggressive tactics the White House has used to counter critics of the Iraq war.

Wilson based his criticism in part on a CIA-sponsored mission he made to Africa in 2002 to check out an intelligence report that Iraq sought uranium from Niger.

Bush cited intelligence that Iraq sought uranium from Africa in his 2003 State of the Union address, but Wilson later said the claim was unsubstantiated.

Cheney and Cheney's office sought to discredit Wilson and his findings by suggesting the trip was a boondoggle that had been arranged by his wife.


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