A May 17 article said that CNN had "turned over enough subpoenaed information" to the defense team for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Cheney, to satisfy Libby's lawyers. CNN actually responded to the subpoena by stating that it had no relevant documents, a response that Libby's attorneys accepted.
Libby Judge Is Allowed To View Reporters' Notes
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Several media organizations agreed yesterday to let a federal judge overseeing the trial of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby review reporters' notebooks and other materials related to their work in the CIA leak case.
The New York Times and Time magazine said at a court hearing that they will turn over the materials to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton this week so he can decide whether they must be shown to Libby's defense team.
Attorneys for Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff subpoenaed the material -- which pertains to CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV -- in April, in preparation for a trial scheduled to begin next year.
Libby was indicted in October on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury stemming from his testimony about the leak of Plame's name to the news media. The case centers on statements Libby made to a grand jury and to the FBI about his conversations with reporters for those news organizations in the summer of 2003. The reporters are expected to be witnesses at the trial.
Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has said the leak of Plame's undercover status was part of an effort by administration officials to besmirch Wilson, who wrote a report for the CIA questioning one of the major rationales for the invasion of Iraq and publicly accused the administration of twisting intelligence in the run-up to the invasion. In linking him to Plame, Fitzgerald said, the officials suggested that Wilson was assigned to the mission because of nepotism at the CIA.
The two publications, plus NBC, had filed motions seeking to quash subpoenas filed by Libby's attorneys on the grounds that the requests were too sweeping and that some of the material did not exist, was irrelevant or is protected. The Washington Post and CNN separately turned over enough subpoenaed information to satisfy Libby's attorneys; The Post said in a statement that it did so without violating promises to its sources.
Walton indicated that he accepted NBC's argument that it had no relevant materials.
Libby lawyer William Jeffress said that "for better or worse, the press is right in the middle" of the trial. But Walton expressed skepticism about the defense requests, noting that the court "has to be cautious" about releasing information related to journalists' sources.
Walton said he wanted to see some of the disputed materials to decide for himself whether they were germane. He also said he is likely to retain some of it until the trial and make it available to Libby only if it conflicts with courtroom testimony.
Much of yesterday's hearing concerned the notebooks of former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who spoke three times with Libby about Wilson's work in June and July 2003 and made repeated reference in her notes to Plame. Miller has said she also discussed Plame with other officials but could not recall their names. But she did not write an article about the matter.
The Times has provided Libby a redacted copy of the notebooks, but Jeffress argued that Libby needed to see other names and phone numbers in Miller's notebooks to determine who else she spoke with about Plame and if her memory about all the related conversations was confused.
Jeffress also said that to counter the suggestion that Libby was heavily focused on the Wilson-Plame link, he plans to call six journalists to testify at the trial, each of whom will report that during their conversations with Libby about Wilson in 2003, he never mentioned Plame's name.
Jeffress said the defense also planned to seek Wilson's testimony at the trial about his report for the CIA and to bring up subsequent comments by Wilson to reporters that Jeffress said were untruthful. But Walton responded that the charges concerned Libby's statements and that Wilson's credibility is not "at issue here."