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Judge grants Libby limited access to presidential briefings

[JURIST] A federal judge ruled Friday that former vice-presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby [defense profile; JURIST news archive] be given limited access to presidential security briefing transcripts to assist him in his defense against perjury charges in the CIA leak case [JURIST news archive]. Libby claims that he was so busy with security matters around the time of the leak that he simply forget his conversation with reporters about the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame [JURIST news archive].

US DC District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton addressed security concerns [JURIST report] voiced by the CIA about potential release of the secret top-level briefings by saying that the agency only needed to provide redacted versions of the material - "tables of contents" or topic indexes of the documents "sufficient...for the defendant to refresh his recollection to
adequately accomplish the objectives of his defense."

The Court has painstakingly endeavored to ensure that the defendant is provided with the information he truly needs to prepare his defense based upon what he has represented through counsel will be his theory of why he should not be held culpable for the offenses charged in the indictment. It is based upon this assessment that the Court has concluded that the topic areas of the documents used to brief the defendant during his morning intelligence briefings and the subjects areas of documents that contain the inquiries the defendant made during these briefings are material to the preparation of the defense and thus discoverable under Rule 16. Accordingly, and consistent with this opinion, the Court will require the government to produce either (1) redacted versions of those documents with the defendant being provided what in effect is a table of contents for each set of documents or separate topic overviews of the subject matter contained in those documents and (2) the topic areas of any documents reflecting the inquiries made by the defendant for additional information during his morning intelligence briefings.
Read the full text of the memorandum opinion [PDF]. AP has more.

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