Lawyers in CIA Leak Case Tangle Over Sharing of Information
Friday, March 3, 2006
Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a court affidavit released yesterday that indicted former White House official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is not entitled to know everything that government investigators learned about other leaks to reporters regarding Valerie Plame's employment as a covert CIA operative.
The affidavit, released by the U.S. District Court in Washington with lengthy redactions on 16 of its 19 pages, asserts that Libby's defense team has already been told what it needs to know about other Bush administration contacts with reporters and that granting its request for more information would compromise "innocent accuseds," breach confidences and delve into irrelevant matters.
The affidavit prepared for the presiding judge in the case is the latest joust by Fitzgerald in a battle with defense lawyers over how much information the prosecution must disclose before the start of Libby's trial on charges of perjury, making false statements and obstructing justice during the government's probe into the improper disclosure of Plame's role. The trial of Libby, 55, who was chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, is now expected to begin next January.
Fitzgerald says he has said more than he has to about his investigation; Libby's lawyers say they cannot prepare an adequate defense without learning everything the prosecution knows about what other Bush administration officials told reporters.
Last week, in a setback to Libby's case, Judge Reggie B. Walton said Libby was not entitled to know the name of one official who leaked Plame's name to two reporters, including Bob Woodward, an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post. In yesterday's affidavit, Fitzgerald disclosed that Libby's team had the transcript of Woodward's deposition about the contact, with information related to the name of the leaker redacted.
The federal prosecutor said the defense team had all documents related to administration contacts with reporter Matthew Cooper of Time magazine or received from former New York Times correspondent Judith Miller, both of whom have said that U.S. officials told them about Plame's role. Fitzgerald also said the defense had complete depositions from two other Washington Post reporters, Walter Pincus and Glenn Kessler.
"We produced these transcripts in part because we did not intend to call these witnesses at trial, and because these reporters had spoken publicly about their role in this case to varying degrees," the affidavit said.
Under the heading of documents "Pertaining to Reporters the Government Has Not Produced," four subheadings were entirely redacted. Much of the rest of the redacted material outlines the "strategy and direction" of Fitzgerald's continuing investigation. Libby's publicist, Barbara Comstock, declined to comment on the affidavit.