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Libby won't argue Bush ordered leak of agent's name

Andy Sullivan / Reuters | April 13 2006

An indicted former White House aide does not contend that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney ordered him to leak the name of a CIA officer whose husband criticized the administration's Iraq policies, the aide's lawyers said.

A court filing by Lewis "Scooter" Libby's defense team argues that CIA officer Valerie Plame was not foremost on the minds of Bush administration officials as they sought to rebut charges by her husband, Joseph Wilson, that they manipulated intelligence to make a case for invading Iraq.

"Mr. Libby plans to demonstrate that the indictment is wrong when it suggests that he and other government officials viewed Ms. Wilson's role in sending her husband to Africa as important," said the filing late Wednesday night.

Wilson investigated for the CIA an administration claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium, a potential nuclear-weapons ingredient, in Africa, and he later wrote that the charges could not be substantiated.

Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, is charged with lying to investigators as they sought to determine whether Bush-administration officials broke the law by disclosing Plame's identity.

Prosecutors said in court filing last week that Bush and Cheney ordered Libby to share a classified report with journalists to rebut Wilson's charges against the administration.

Bush has acknowledged declassifying the information, prompting charges of hypocrisy from Democrats who say he has denounced some leaks while encouraging others.

In the court filing, Libby's lawyers said they did not intend to argue that he was ordered to reveal Plame's identity.

"Consistent with his grand jury testimony, Mr. Libby does not contend that he was instructed to make any disclosures concerning Ms. Wilson by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, or anyone else," the filing said, using Plame's married name.

Libby's trial is scheduled for January 2007.

Libby's lawyers said they would call senior Bush adviser Karl Rove, who remains under investigation in the leak case, to testify. Prosecutors had previously said they no longer intended to call Rove.

Libby's lawyers have pushed prosecutors to share a wide range of documents they have collected during the investigation, including top-secret intelligence reports.

In Wednesday's filing, they argued for material from the State Department and the CIA in order to portray the debate taking place over intelligence on Iraq.

"This bureaucratic infighting provides necessary context for the testimony of witnesses from different government agencies," the filing said.


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