Fitzgerald update: Libby knew


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Libby Prosecutor Focuses on CIA Officer's Status

Filings Say Ex-Cheney Aide Knew That Plame Was Classified, Giving Him Reason to 
Lie to Grand Jury

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 22, 2006; A04

The classified status of the identity of former CIA officer Valerie Plame will 
be a key element in any trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President 
Cheney's former chief of staff, according to special counsel Patrick J. 

Fitzgerald has said that at trial he plans to show that Libby knew Plame's 
employment at the CIA was classified and that he lied to the grand jury when he 
said he had learned from NBC News's Tim Russert that Plame, the wife of former 
ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, worked for the agency.

Libby's lawyers have said their client did not know that Plame's job at the CIA 
was classified, and therefore he had no reason to remember conversations about 
her or lie about them to the grand jury.

When Libby testified before the grand jury on March 5, 2004, he said, according 
to the government's indictment: "Mr. Russert said to me, did you know that 
Ambassador Wilson's wife, or his wife works at the CIA? And I said, no, I don't 
know that. And then he [Russert] said, yeah -- yes all the reporters know it. 
And I said, again, I don't know that."

At that same grand jury appearance, Libby was asked about a conversation he had 
with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in which he said reporters were the 
source of his information that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.

"I was very clear to say reporters are telling us that because in my mind I 
still didn't know it as a fact. I thought I was -- all I had was this 
information was coming in from reporters," Libby told the grand jury, according 
to the indictment.

The indictment said Russert never disclosed anything about Plame in his 
conversation with Libby. Instead, prosecutors say, Libby learned about Plame's 
CIA employment in June 2003 from Cheney, Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman 
and at least one senior CIA official, according to court papers.

At last week's court argument on pretrial motions, Fitzgerald said Libby had a 
"motive to lie" to the grand jury. By "attributing to a reporter" his 
information about Plame's CIA status and emphasizing that he was "passing on" 
scuttlebutt but "didn't know if it were true," the prosecutor said, Libby in his
testimony was deliberately casting his actions as "a non-crime" in a way that 
"looks much more innocent than passing on what you know to be classified."

To support his case, Fitzgerald disclosed that at some time after Robert D. 
Novak's July 14, 2003, column identified Plame as a CIA "operative," Libby was 
part of a conversation with a CIA official and one other Cheney employee who is 
not identified in court papers. The CIA official discussed "the dangers posed by
disclosure of the CIA affiliation of one of its employees," according to a May 
12 court filing by the government.

At the oral argument that same day, Fitzgerald, referring to the conversation, 
described the CIA official as a witness who described to Libby "and another 
person the damage that can be caused specifically by the outing of Ms. Wilson."

That conversation, Fitzgerald added, "goes directly to his [Libby's] state of 
mind as to . . . there [being] a motive to lie."

In his May 12 filing, Fitzgerald said that same conversation provides "evidence 
[that] directly contradicts the defense position that the defendant had no 
motive to lie because at the time of his [FBI] interview and [grand jury] 
testimony the defendant [Libby] thought that neither he nor anyone else had done
anything wrong."

To help counter that contention, Libby's lawyers, in their May 12 court filing, 
identify former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow as a potential witness in the case, 
saying he was the government official who disclosed Plame's "employment status,"
probably in June 2003, to Cheney spokeswoman Cathie Martin, who then passed it 
on to Libby.

"Mr. Harlow may be called to testify about that conversation and about whether 
he told her that such information was secret," Libby's attorneys wrote in their 
filing. "Such testimony would support defense's contention that Ms. Martin did 
not tell Mr. Libby that Ms. Wilson's employment at the CIA was classified, which
would help the defense to contest the government's argument that Mr. Libby 
should have known such information was classified," they wrote.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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