- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A jury that includes four critics of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies was seated yesterday to try former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. on perjury charges.

The jury of nine women and three men was seated after a nearly hourlong court session that was as silent as a professional chess match. Prosecutors and defense attorneys consulted in whispers, then handled papers to the clerk to exercise their 20 unexplained strikes of potential jurors.

The only sound was the clerk reading the numbers of each juror eliminated and the replacement juror’s number.

Six potential jurors who had criticized war policy or the Bush administration were struck.

Three women and one man were seated as alternates. Although the public knew, the jurors weren’t told who are alternates so they would all pay full attention during the trial.

Mr. Libby, a former aide to President Bush and chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is accused of lying to investigators about his conversations regarding outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose husband was a vocal critic of the administration.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton had hoped to give preliminary instructions but postponed doing so until today, when both sides will give opening statements. Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald plans to speak for an hour, and defense lawyer Theodore Wells estimated that he’d talk for two hours.

The contentious jury-selection process foreshadows a heated trial against the backdrop of the war in Iraq.

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