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

Friday, February 17, 2006 - Prosecutor Resists Libby's Request

WASHINGTON — A former White House aide charged in the investigation of the leaking of a CIA operative's identity is seeking access to information that would threaten national security, grand jury secrecy and presidential executive privilege, a prosecutor said in court papers.

Lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, are asking a federal judge to force Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to turn over evidence ranging from communications between reporters and their sources to highly sensitive intelligence briefings provided to President Bush.

Libby, 55, was indicted last year on charges that he lied about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters.

In a 32-page response to Libby's requests filed with the court late Thursday, Fitzgerald said he has turned over more than 11,000 pages of classified and unclassified evidence to the defense _ more than he is required under law.

Fitzgerald said he has given defense attorneys everything he has gathered on Libby's conversations with reporters. But the prosecutor said he is not required to give the defense the statements and testimony of reporters who will be called as government witnesses at trial.

The prosecutor also said he gave the defense documents about reporters who obtained information about Plame from sources other than Libby. But Fitzgerald said he has withheld the specifics about the reporters' sources to protect grand jury secrecy in his ongoing investigation.

Plame's identity was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium "yellowcake" in Niger. The year before, the CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to determine the accuracy of the uranium reports.

Libby's trial is set for January 2007.

A key request by the defense is for access to every Presidential Daily Brief _ a summary of the threats against the United States and its interests worldwide _ from May 2003 to March 2004.

Fitzgerald said the request amounts to 277 intelligence reports and called it "nothing short of breathtaking."

The prosecutor quoted Cheney as describing the PDBs as the "family jewels" of government, and warned U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton that turning over such highly classified documents would provoke a lengthy legal battle with the president.

"The defendant's effort to make history ... is a transparent effort at 'greymail,'" Fitzgerald said, referring to past attempts by government officials charged with wrongdoing to derail their prosecutions by trying to expose national security secrets.

Libby also is seeking access to records about Plame kept by the CIA, including any assessments of damage to national security by the public disclosure of her identity.

Fitzgerald said he does not have to prove that the disclosure damaged national security to secure a conviction of Libby for perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.

He also said he is not required to search every government agency's files for evidence that might help Libby's defense.