CIA-Leak Defendant Is Denied Classified Documents

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The government says that Lewis "Scooter" Libby should not have access to all the documents that the former aide to Vice President Cheney has requested. Libby says the documents are crucial to his defense against charges that he lied and obstructed justice in the Valerie Plame investigation.


Here's an item about Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis Scooter Libby. The government says Libby should not have access to all the documents that he's requested. Libby says those documents are crucial to his defense against charges that he lied and obstructed justice in the Valerie Plame Wilson investigation. NPR's Larry Abramson has the story.

LARRY ABRAMSON: Libby's attorneys recently asked for a pile of sensitive documents, including the president's daily brief, a closely guarded threat assessment. They argued that such information will show that any errors Libby made in his interviews with the FBI were, in their words, the result of confusion, mistake or faulty memory rather than a willful intent to deceive. Libby also demanded any assessment by the CIA of the damage done by the disclosure that Valerie Plame was a covert operative for the agency. But in a filing in federal court, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald urged the judge to reject Libby's demand.

Fitzgerald said the government has already disclosed 11,000 pages of information, more than enough, he says, for Libby to defend himself. And Fitzgerald warned the court that Libby's request may amount to graymail, seeking to have the case dismissed by demanding the release of classified information that the government will want to protect. Legal experts say this is a common problem in cases dealing with classified material. Professor Carl Tobias teaches at the University of Richmond.

CARL W: The judge has to weigh a number of factors that principally go to relevance, how relevant is it? And the government's contending that the information that Libby is seeking is tangentially relevant.

ABRAMSON: Libby's attorneys would not comment on the record, but in legal briefs they have argued the material they want will show that Libby's meetings with reporters to discuss Plame's identity came during a torrent of briefings about national security threats. That will explain, they say, why Libby may have made an understandable mistake when he told the FBI he learned about Plame's identity from reporters.

Larry Abramson, NPR News, Washington.

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