- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2006

Granting a former White House aide’s demands for classified documents to help his defense in the CIA leak investigation would torpedo the case, the prosecutor is arguing.

Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald suggests that allowing I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby access to the documents — many of which Mr. Libby read or wrote while working for Vice President Dick Cheney — would have a “breathtaking” impact on national security.

In arguments filed late Thursday, Mr. Fitzgerald said Mr. Libby’s lawyers were trying to derail the perjury and obstruction case by pressing for nearly a year’s worth of presidential daily briefs — summaries of threats to the U.S. that are among the government’s most closely guarded secrets.

Mr. Fitzgerald also asked U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to protect the ongoing grand jury investigation by not forcing the release of the identities of other “individuals” who discussed a covert CIA officer with reporters in 2003.

In his filings, Mr. Fitzgerald also noted that he was submitting a sworn statement, filed under seal with Judge Walton, detailing his reasons for keeping secret the names of people who talked to reporters, for keeping secret the names of others involved in the investigation, and his strategy in the ongoing grand jury probe.

The filing does not reveal whether presidential adviser Karl Rove remains under scrutiny. Mr. Fitzgerald also does not indicate whether he is investigating Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s source, whose existence was revealed after Mr. Libby was indicted last year.

Mr. Libby, 55, is charged with lying about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity and when he subsequently told reporters. Mr. Libby’s trial is set for January.

Mr. Fitzgerald accused Mr. Libby of attempting to commit “graymail,” a reference to past attempts by government officials charged with wrongdoing to derail their prosecutions by trying to expose national security secrets.

Mr. Libby’s lawyers want the secret briefings prepared for President Bush in order to show that Mr. Libby had more pressing matters on his mind than the disclosure of Mrs. Plame’s identity.

Mr. Fitzgerald dismissed Mr. Libby’s “preoccupation defense,” saying the prosecution already has given defense attorneys more than 11,000 pages of classified and unclassified evidence — more than required under law.

But the defense team also wants every Presidential Daily Brief from May 2003 to March 2004, amounting to 277 intelligence reports.

The prosecutor warned the judge that turning over such highly classified documents would provoke a lengthy legal battle with the president.

Mr. Libby also is seeking access to more information about news reporters, CIA records about Mrs. Plame and any damage assessments of the public disclosure of her identity to national security.

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