Report: Libby Wasn't Told To Leak Name

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, arrives for a hearing at Federal Court in Washington, Friday, Feb. 3, 2006. U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton scheduled the Friday hearing to determine what progress was being made in the perjury and obstruction of justice case against him. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Lawyers for Lewis "Scooter" Libby said the former White House aide does not claim he was ordered by President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney to reveal the name of a CIA agent as part of a campaign to defend the administration's Iraq war policy.

"We emphasize that consistent with his grand jury testimony, Mr. Libby does not contend that he was instructed to make any disclosures concerning (CIA agent Valerie Plame) by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, or anyone else," the lawyers said in a court filing late Wednesday.

The statement was first reported Thursday morning by the Washington Post.

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald revealed in a court filing last week that Mr. Bush cleared the way for Cheney to authorize Libby to counter administration critics on Iraq by leaking previously classified intelligence information to reporters.

There was no indication in that filing that either Mr. Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Plame's CIA identity.

Read the latest court filing by Libby defense lawyers (.pdf)

Libby, 55, was charged last October with lying to the FBI and a federal grand jury about how he learned and when he subsequently told reporters about Plame. He faces trial in January 2007 on five counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.

Plame's identity as a CIA operative was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's purported efforts to buy uranium "yellowcake" in Niger to justify going to war. The year before, the CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to determine the accuracy of the uranium reports.

In Wednesday's filing, Libby's lawyers also said their defense will center on whose memory is accurate and whose versions of conversations can be trusted — Libby's, or those of reporters and other government officials.

They said they planned to call presidential adviser Karl Rove, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and State Department official Marc Grossman;

The defense attorneys said they want to determine whether Grossman lied about a conversation he says he had with Libby about Plame to protect the State Department from embarrassment. They said they also want to know how Fleischer found out about Plame and who he talked to.

And they said they likely will call Rove as a witness. Rove is still under investigation in the case, but the defense attorneys said that "does not diminish his importance in this case."