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

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

New York Daily News - World & National Report - Leak prober got supersecret files


WASHINGTON - CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald collected 10,000 pages of documents - including the most sensitive terrorism memos in the U.S. government - from Vice President Cheney's office, he said in court papers released yesterday.
Without serving any warrants in his probe of who outed CIA officer Valerie Plame, Fitzgerald even obtained censored copies of the President's Daily Brief, the supersecret CIA threat memo for President Bush.

Now Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Cheney's disgraced former chief aide, is asking a court to force Fitzgerald to fork over all the documents to fight charges of perjury and lying to the FBI.

Libby will show that "any errors he made in his FBI interviews or grand jury testimony, months after the conversations, were the result of confusion, mistake or faulty memory rather than a willful intent to deceive," his lawyers argued.

The special counsel got the presidential briefing in his hunt for any files concerning Plame or her husband, Joe Wilson, a diplomat sent to Niger in 2002 to see whether the African regime sold uranium to Iraq.

Fitzgerald, who is fighting Libby's request, said in a letter to Libby's lawyers that many e-mails from Cheney's office at the time of the Plame leak in 2003 have been deleted contrary to White House policy.

Libby's Lawyers Seek Papers on Plame's CIA Employment

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 1, 2006; A05

Attorneys for Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff urged a court yesterday to force a prosecutor to turn over CIA records indicating whether former CIA operative Valerie Plame's employment was classified, saying the answer is not yet clear.

The defense team for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby also asked that the court require Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald to turn over any informal assessments conducted by the CIA to determine whether the leak of Plame's identity in July 2003 damaged national security or agency operations.

Libby was indicted in October on five counts of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice in the course of Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of Plame's identity to the media. The indictment charges that Libby lied to investigators when he said he did not provide information about Plame to two reporters and when he said he learned about Plame from a third, NBC's Tim Russert.

Defense lawyers argued in court papers that it is crucial to determine whether Plame was not an undercover operative at the time Libby was discussing her with members of the media, and whether little or no damage was done to national security when her identity was publicly disclosed.

If either is true, the defense argued, it will "challenge the prosecution's contention that Mr. Libby has reason to lie to the FBI and the grand jury about his conversations with reporters in July 2003."

Plame's identity was first disclosed in Robert D. Novak's syndicated column on July 14, 2003. It appeared eight days after her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly asserted that the administration had twisted intelligence to justify war with Iraq.

The defense said it also is seeking records of daily briefings from the Office of the Vice President to show that Libby was immersed in national security matters from dawn to dusk every day.

"These documents are material to establishing that any misstatements he may have made were the result of confusion, mistake and faulty memory . . . rather than deliberate lies," according to the papers.

The demand for records is one of several pretrial discovery disputes that will likely be discussed when Fitzgerald and the defense lawyers appear before U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Friday.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald's office has declined to comment on defense motions. Defense lawyers also declined to comment on their filings.

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