Jury Selection to Begin in CIA Leak Case
Tue Jan 16, 2007 22:38

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Jury Selection to Begin in CIA Leak Case
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2007 09:19:49 -0500
From: rj3@comcast.net


WASHINGTON -- In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 9-to-1, former Republican presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is looking for sympathetic jurors. Libby, who served as an adviser to President Bush and chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, faces trial for perjury and obstruction in the CIA leak case. Jury selection was to begin Tuesday and attorneys for both sides want to ask potential jurors about their opinions of the Bush administration, political scandals and the Iraq war.

Libby is accused of lying to investigators about his conversations with reporters regarding outed CIA officer Valerie Plame. Plame's identity was leaked to reporters in 2003 after her husband criticized the Bush administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq.

The leak touched off a political scandal and an FBI investigation that Libby is accused of obstructing. Attorneys for both sides want to know how closely potential jurors have been following the case.

"What is your political party preference? Democrat, Republican, Independent or other?" Libby's attorneys wrote on their list of proposed jury questions.

"Please describe any feelings you have about Vice President Cheney," they also asked.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has not released his final list of questions but indicated such political questions are needed to select a fair jury.

Walton will put those queries to a group of about 60 potential jurors Tuesday. Each juror will then take the stand for follow-up questions from defense attorneys, prosecutors and the judge.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's proposed list includes questions about what newspapers and magazines jurors read and where they get their news. Fitzgerald also wants to know whether their opinion of Libby's former job would make it hard for them to be fair.

Defense attorneys are even more pointed in their proposed questions. Among those on their list:

_ "Based on what you know at this time, do you believe that the administration misled the American people to justify going to war?"

_ "Have you been following any of the recent political scandals involving Jack Abramoff, William Jefferson, Tom DeLay, Cynthia McKinney, or Mark Foley?"

_ "Do you have particularly strong feelings about the war in Iraq?"

_ "Based on what you know at this time, do you believe that the administration misled the American people to justify going to war?"

All jurors are routinely asked whether they have criminal records. In the Libby case, Walton has said the jurors will also undergo criminal background checks.

Fitzgerald requested the background checks because, during his prosecution of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, two jurors were replaced because they had police records. Defense attorneys are using that to challenge Ryan's conviction and Fitzgerald doesn't want to face the same problem in the Libby case.

Walton expects jury selection to take two to three days and has scheduled opening arguments to begin Monday. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

The trial should give the public glimpses of how Bush administration insiders responded to a high-level critic _ former ambassador Joseph Wilson _ who claimed the president and his closest advisers distorted intelligence and lies to push the nation into war with Iraq.

The case won't assess blame for the leak itself, however. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who has acknowledged being the original leaker, has not been charged.

Libby plans to be his own star witness. He says he didn't lie to investigators.

During the Plame scandal and the FBI investigation, he says, he was dealing with terrorist threats, the war in Iraq and emerging nuclear programs in Iran, North Korea and Pakistan. He says those overshadowed the Plame issue and clouded his memory about how and when he learned Plame's identity.


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