Libby testimony on Bush authorization of Iraq intelligence leak [US DC]

Government summary of grand jury testimony by I. "Scooter" Libby, former Chief of Staff to US Vice President Dick Cheney on President Bush's 2003 authorization for Libby to disclose certain US intelligence information on Iraq's weapons program from a classified National Intelligence Estimate, as contained in Government's Response to Defendant's Third Motion to Compel Discovery, US v. Libby, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, April 5, 2006 [motion in response to Libby's motion to compel discovery of additional documents pertaining to US Ambassador Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger for the use of Libby's defense in the perjury case against him].


One of the key conversations that will be proved at trial took place between defendant and reporter Judith Miller at the St. Regis Hotel on the morning of July 8, 2003. Defendant testified in the grand jury that he and Miller did not discuss the CIA employment of Ambassador Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, on that occasion, and that he could not have done so because he had forgotten by that time that he had learned about Ms. Wilson's employment a month earlier from the Vice President.

Defendant further testified that when he spoke with reporter Tim Russert the following day, Russert informed him that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, and defendant was "taken aback." Defendant testified that he thought that the information was new to him, and that he made sure not to confirm the information to Russert. Defendant thereafter testified that he repeated what he learned from Russert to other reporters (including Cooper and Miller) on July 12, taking care to caution those reporters that he did not know if the information were true or even if Ambassador Wilson even had a wife.

As to the meeting on July 8, defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was "pretty definitive" against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the Vice President thought that it was "very important" for the key judgments of the NIE to come out. Defendant further testified that he at first advised the Vice President that he could not have this conversation with reporter Miller because of the classified nature of the NIE. Defendant testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE. Defendant testified that he also spoke to David Addington, then Counsel to the Vice President, whom defendant considered to be an expert in national security law, and Mr. Addington opined that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a documentamounted to a declassification of the document.

Defendant testified that he thought he brought a brief abstract of the NIE's key judgments to the meeting with Miller on July 8. Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium. Defendant testified that this July 8th meeting was the only time he recalled in his government experience when he disclosed a document to a reporter that was effectively declassified by virtue of the President's authorization that it be disclosed. Defendant testified that one of the reasons why he met with Miller at a hotel was the fact that he was sharing this information with Miller exclusively.

In fact, on July 8, defendant spoke with Miller about Mr. Wilson after requesting that attribution of his remarks be changed to "former Hill staffer." Defendant discussed with Miller the contents of a then classified CIA report which defendant characterized to Miller as having been written by Wilson. Defendant advised Miller that Wilson had reported that he had learned that in 1999 an Iraqi delegation visited Niger and sought to expand commercial relations, which was understood to be a reference to a desire to obtain uranium. Later during the discussion about Wilson and the NIE, defendant advised Miller of his belief that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Indict., Count One, ¶ 17.
Read the full text of the government response [PDF].

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