Prosecutor: Libby 'wiped out' Cheney memo
Tue Jan 23, 2007 15:09


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Prosecutor: Libby 'wiped out' Cheney memo
Defense in CIA leak trial counters that White House tried to set up Libby

NBC News and news services
Updated: 1 minute ago

WASHINGTON - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald used his opening statement in the CIA leak trial Tuesday to allege that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff lied about Cheney's early involvement in the disclosure of a spy’s identity.

Fitzgerald said Cheney told his chief of staff, “Scooter” Libby, in 2003 that the wife of Iraq critic and former ambassador Joseph Wilson worked for the CIA, and that Libby spread that information to reporters. When that information got out, it triggered a federal investigation.

“But when the FBI and grand jury asked about what the defendant did,” Fitzgerald said, “he made up a story.”

Fitzgerald alleged that Libby in September 2003 “wiped out” a Cheney note just before Libby's first FBI interview when he said he learned about Wilson and his wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame, from reporters, not the vice president.

It was not clear if Fitzgerald meant that the note was destroyed or that Libby had forgotten about it.

Libby is charged with perjury and obstruction. He told investigators he was surprised to learn the identify of Wilson’s wife from NBC News reporter Tim Russert.

Libby says he didn’t lie but was simply bogged down by national security issues and couldn’t remember details of what he told reporters about Plame.

But Fitzgerald told jurors that was clearly a lie because Libby had already been discussing the matter inside and outside of the White House. “You can’t learn something on Thursday that you’re giving out on Monday,” Fitzgerald said.

Defense: Libby was sacrificed
In their opening statements, Libby's attorneys said Bush administration officials tried to blame him for the leak to cover up for presidential adviser Karl Rove’s own disclosures.

Attorney Theodore Wells said Libby went to Cheney in 2003 and complained that the White House was subtly blaming him for leaking Plame’s identity to columnist Robert Novak.

“They’re trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,” Wells said, recalling the alleged conversation between Libby and Cheney. “I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.”

Libby plans to testify and tell jurors he had many other issues on his mind at the time, such as terrorist threats and emerging nuclear programs overseas. Attorneys say they expect Cheney to testify for the defense. Historians say that would be a first for a sitting vice president.

Libby’s attorneys had hoped U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton would tell jurors that “memory does not function like a tape recorder” and “a person is less likely to remember information if he is paying attention to several things at once.”

But Walton has refused to help defense attorneys make that point and on Tuesday rejected a request to allow defense attorneys to call a memory expert to testify at trial.

Related content

* Read the initial questions to the jury (pdf)

* NBC News: How the CIA leak case began

* Hardblogger: Who are the jurors?

Motive to be alleged
Fitzgerald is also expected to explain something that’s not in the indictment but is key to the case: what he sees as the motive.


The evil Dick Cheney
The Evil Dick Cheney.

1/23/07 - "The Charles Goyette Show" KNFX 1100 AM Phx AZ
INTERVIEW: Mesa City Councilman Tom Rawles
Mesa City Councilman Tom Rawles refused to join in saying the Pledge of Allegiance before Monday
night's council meeting to protest American involvement in what he calls an Iraqi civil war.

"If you're not willing to stand up for what you believe, you don't belong in politics,"
Rawles said before the meeting.



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