- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former vice-presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. acknowledged he may have discussed with Vice President Dick Cheney whether to tell reporters that a prominent war critic’s wife worked at the CIA, an FBI agent testified yesterday.

Agent Deborah Bond’s brief description of Mr. Libby’s acknowledgment was about the only new information disclosed yesterday. Otherwise, Mr. Libby’s perjury trial was devoted mostly to dealing with vigorous and repeated defense efforts to exclude evidence that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald called “the guts of our case.”

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton accepted some defense arguments and rejected others during hourslong debates held outside the jury’s presence.

But the government was able to show the jury small portions of video of Scott McClellan, White House spokesman at the time, saying President Bush would fire anyone who was found to have leaked classified information. The video also showed Mr. McClellan saying he had been assured that Mr. Libby did not leak classified information.

Mr. McClellan spoke in October 2003, shortly before Mr. Libby was interviewed by the FBI.

Mr. Libby is charged with lying to the FBI and a grand jury about his conversations with reporters concerning CIA operative Valerie Plame and obstructing an investigation of how her identity and CIA job were leaked to the press in 2003. Mr. Fitzgerald said Mr. Libby’s motive was to avoid being fired.

Miss Bond said that during Mr. Libby’s second FBI interview in his office on Nov. 23, 2003, the former aide described flying back from Norfolk with Mr. Cheney on July 12, 2003, at the height of public controversy over accusations made by Mrs. Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Mr. Libby told the FBI that he went to the front of the plane to get a statement Mr. Cheney wanted released to the press. It denied Mr. Wilson’s suggestion that Mr. Cheney was behind Mr. Wilson’s trip to Niger in 2002 to investigate a report that Iraq was trying to buy uranium there for nuclear weapons.

Mr. Wilson had said in print and on television on July 6, 2003, that he debunked the uranium report and Mr. Cheney should have known that long before Mr. Bush cited the uranium story in his January 2003 State of Union speech as a justification for war with Iraq.

Miss Bond testified that Mr. Libby told the FBI “there was a discussion whether to report to the press that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA.” She added that Mr. Libby expressed some doubt.

“Mr. Libby told us he believed they may have talked about it but he wasn’t sure,” she said.

She said Mr. Libby did say he had discussed Mrs. Plame with Mr. Cheney sometime after discussing her with NBC reporter Tim Russert on either July 10 or 11, 2003.

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