Following are excerpts from yesterday's news conference by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald announcing the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the CIA leak investigation, as transcribed by Federal News Service Inc.:
In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence [community]. . . . Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. . . . Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson. . . .
It was known that a CIA officer's identity was blown. It was known that there was a leak. We needed to figure out how that happened, who did it, why, whether a crime was committed, whether we could prove it, whether we should prove it. And given that national security was at stake, it was especially important that we find out accurate facts. . . .
In October 2003, the FBI interviewed Mr. Libby. . . . The focus of the interview was what was it that he had known about . . . Valerie Wilson, . . . what he said to people, why he said it, and how he learned it.
And to be frank, Mr. Libby gave the FBI a compelling story. What he told the FBI was that essentially he was at the end of a long chain of phone calls. He spoke to reporter Tim Russert, and during the conversation Mr. Russert told him that, hey, do you know that all the reporters know that Mr. Wilson's wife works at the CIA. And he told the FBI that he learned that information as if it were new, and it struck him.
So he took this information from Mr. Russert, and later on he passed it on to other reporters, including reporter Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of the New York Times. And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on July 12th of 2003, two days before Mr. Novak's column, that he passed it on understanding that this was information he had gotten from a reporter, that he didn't even know if it was true. And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on to reporters, he made clear that he did not know if this were true, this was something that all the reporters were saying, and in fact he just didn't know, and he wanted to be clear about it. . . .
It would be a compelling story that would lead the FBI to go away, if only it were true. It is not true, according to the indictment.
In fact, Mr. Libby discussed the information about Valerie Wilson at least half a dozen times before this conversation with Mr. Russert ever took place, not to mention that when he spoke to Mr. Russert, Mr. Russert and he never discussed Valerie Wilson. . . . He didn't learn it from Mr. Russert, and if he had, it would not have been new at the time. . . .
The indictment alleges that Mr. Libby learned the information about Valerie Wilson at least three times in June of 2003 from government officials. And let me make clear there was nothing wrong with government officials discussing Valerie Wilson or Mr. Wilson or his wife and imparting the information to Mr. Libby.
But in early June, Mr. Libby learned about Valerie Wilson and the role she was believed to play in having sent Mr. Wilson on a trip overseas from a senior CIA officer on or around June 11th, from an undersecretary of state on or around June 11th, and from the vice president on or about June 12th. It's also clear, as set forth in the indictment, that some time prior to July 8th, he also learned it from somebody else working in the vice president's office. So at least four people within the government told Mr. Libby about Valerie Wilson, often referred to as Wilson's wife, working at the CIA and believed to be responsible for helping organize a trip that Mr. Wilson took overseas.
In addition to hearing it from government officials, it's also alleged in the indictment that at least three times Mr. Libby discussed this information with other government officials. . . .
If you saw a baseball game and you saw a pitcher wind up and throw a fast ball and hit a batter right smack in the head and it really, really hurt them, you'd want to know why the pitcher did that. . . .
You'd want to know what happened in the dugout. Was this guy complaining about the person he threw at? Did he talk to anyone else? What was he thinking? How does he react? All those things you'd want to know. And then you'd make a decision as to whether this person should be banned from baseball, whether he should be suspended, whether you should do nothing at all. . . .
In this case, it's a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn't to one person, it wasn't to Valerie Wilson, it was done to all of us. . . .
Question: Was it worth keeping Judy Miller in jail for 85 days in this case?
Fitzgerald: . . . I do not think that reporters should be subpoenaed anything close to routinely. It should be an extraordinary case. . . . I wish Ms. Miller spent not a second in jail.
Question: Your critics are charging that you are a partisan. . . . How do you respond?
Fitzgerald: One day I read that I was a Republican hack, and another day I read I was a Democratic hack, and the only thing I did between those two nights was sleep. I'm not partisan.