- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Seven critics of the Bush administration and the Iraq war were approved yesterday as potential jurors in the perjury trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby after they said they could set aside those opinions.

But two other women were dismissed from the jury pool when they said their strong opposition to the administration might color their deliberations in the CIA leak trial. One said she couldn’t believe any statement by an administration official, and the other said President Bush’s policies would be a strike against witnesses from the administration.

Two others had been sent home Tuesday because of their negative views of the administration.

By yesterday’s end, 24 potential jurors had been qualified to serve at the trial that will delve into the political scandal that followed the public disclosure of CIA official Valerie Plame’s name in 2003.

Mr. Libby, a former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is neither charged with nor suspected of revealing Mrs. Plame’s CIA job to reporters. Since the investigation began, it has been learned that Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage did that.

Instead, Mr. Libby is charged with obstruction of justice and lying to investigators about his conversations with reporters regarding Mrs. Plame. He says that he didn’t lie but that his memory was faulty.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton hopes to qualify 36 potential jurors by today. Then prosecutors and defense lawyers will use peremptory, or unexplained, strikes until 12 jurors and four alternates are seated. The defense has 12 strikes and prosecutors eight.

Yesterday’s session illustrated some difficulties in picking a jury in the nation’s capital. Lawyers spent about an hour questioning one former reporter for The Washington Post who had worked for editor Bob Woodward, lived near NBC reporter Tim Russert and written a book on spying.

Even though Mr. Woodward and Mr. Russert are to testify, he was qualified to serve after he said to “give someone a pass goes against everything I was taught.” The prospective jurors were identified in court only by number.

The courtroom erupted in a rare moment of laughter when a retired math teacher, asked his views of Mr. Cheney, replied: “I’m not sure I’d like to go bird hunting with him.”

Mr. Libby dropped his face into his hands and smiled at the reference to Mr. Cheney’s accidentally shooting a hunting companion in February.

Overall, the second day went better for special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald, because Bush administration critics weren’t all excluded.

Also sent to the next stage were a young database administrator who disagreed with Mr. Bush’s political adviser Karl Rove politically and a female accountant who didn’t think Mr. Bush was candid about the war. The retired math teacher thought Mr. Bush should have sent far more troops to Iraq.

Defense attorneys Theodore Wells and William Jeffress asked every juror whether he thinks the Bush administration lied to push the nation into war — a claim made by Mrs. Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph A. Wilson IV, in 2003. Mr. Wilson says his wife’s identity was leaked to punish him and discourage other critics inside the intelligence agencies.

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