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Court filings shed more light on CIA leak investigation

John Byrne and Ron Brynaert
Published: February 2, 2006

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I. Lewis LibbyThird Time reporter, named in filings, says he has not testified in case

A series of striking revelations have emerged after the release of dozens of pages of court files in the CIA leak investigation that have gone unnoticed by the mainstream media, RAW STORY has found.

Some of them have been uncovered by astute bloggers – including the fact that the outed agent’s husband will not testify at a trial, and that a third Time reporter has been fingered as having information potentially relevant to some aspects of the case.

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Moreover, the documents reveal that no formal damage assessment has been done with regard to how the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame affected the agency’s operations worldwide. They also hint that Vice President Cheney’s former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby may have outed Plame on the orders of his “superiors.”

Fitzgerald’s Jan. 23 letter was penned in response to a series of telephone conversations, letters, and motions filed by Libby, who was indicted for obstructing justice in the Plame investigation. Libby has sought to force the prosecutor to turn over more information about his case to bolster his defense.

In the letter, Fitzgerald notes that a third Time Magazine reporter – who now serves as Slate’s chief political correspondent – had conversations with Administration officials about a trip conducted by Plame’s husband to investigate claims that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from Niger.

"We also advise you that we understand that reporter John Dickerson of Time magazine discussed the trip by Mr. Wilson with government officials at some time on July 11 or after, subsequent to Mr. Cooper learning about Mr. Wilson’s wife," Fitzgerald writes. "Any conversations involving Mr. Dickerson likely took place in Africa and occurred after July 11."

Matt Cooper, also a Time reporter, testified that Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove had cautioned him to play down the Wilson trip. Wilson, an ardent Bush critic, said he found no evidence to support claims that Iraq had sought to obtain uranium in order to build a nuclear weapon. Such claims were a keystone in the Administration’s efforts to convince the United States and Congress to support a pre-emptive war.

Reporter says he hasn’t been contacted in case

Dickerson told RAW STORY in an email message Thursday morning that he has not been contacted by the prosecutor.

“I didn't know I was mentioned in the court filings until I saw it on the web,” he said. “I've never been contacted by anyone in Fitzgerald's office.”

From July 8 to July 12, 2003, President Bush took a five-country tour of Africa, accompanied by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. A pool of reporters, including Dickerson, accompanied the President’s retinue.

Although the White House correspondent made no mention of any such conversations in his series of articles on the trip (link), Dickerson did contribute to a Time online report published on July 17, 2003.

From A War on Wilson?: "And some government officials have noted to TIME in interviews, (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These officials have suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched Niger to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's government had sought to purchase large quantities of uranium ore, sometimes referred to as yellow cake, which is used to build nuclear devices."

Dickerson left Time in May 2005 for Slate. After Libby was indicted, he wrote about conversations he had with Fleischer at the time.

"He walked reporters, including me, up to the fact, suggesting they look into who sent Wilson, but never used her name or talked about her position," Dickerson wrote.

According to Newsday, Dickerson’s name appeared in a January, 2004 subpoena sent to the White House in search of “administrative contacts” with reporters regarding Plame or other elements of the probe.

Regardless, Fitzgerald says he’ll tell Libby by tomorrow which journalists he expects to call at trial.

"We will be providing to you prior to February 3 copies of subpoenas and pertinent correspondence relating to reporters referenced in the Indictment and/or whom we expect to call at trial," Fitzgerald wrote Libby.

Prosecutor won’t call Wilson; Says no CIA damage assessment

In response to Libby's motion to gather more information on Wilson, Fitzgerald said he doesn't "expect" to call the former Ambassador to testify at trial. He advises Libby to instead refer to Wilson's many media appearances and written accounts.

Also of note is the fact that Fitzgerald asserts that the CIA has conducted no formal damage assessment with regard to Plame’s outing.

“A formal assessment has not been done of the damage caused by the disclosure of Valerie Wilson’s status as a CIA employee, and thus we possess no such document,” Fitzgerald writes. “In any event, we would not view an assessment of the damage caused by the disclosure as relevant to the issue of whether or not Mr. Libby intentionally lied when he made the statements and gave the grand jury testimony which the grand jury alleged was false.”

Finally, Fitzgerald alludes to "authorization" by Libby's "superiors" – who may include President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney – who may have allowed him to disclose information about a then-classified report on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction to the media. Previous reports have indicated that Cheney and Bush are not targets of the probe.

Fitzgerald writes, "As we discussed during our telephone conversation, Mr. Libby testified in the grand jury that he had contact with reporters in which he disclosed the content of the National Intelligence Estimate (“NIE”) to such reporters in the course of his interaction with reporters in June and July 2003 (and caused at least one other government official to discuss the NIE with the media in July 2003). We also note that it is our understanding that Mr. Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information about the NIE to the press by his superiors."

Read Fitzgerald's letter in PDF format here.

Raw Story researcher Muriel Kane contributed to this report.



 


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