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Libby told grand jury that Bush approved Iraq intelligence leak: court filing

[JURIST] Former vice-presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby [defense profile; JURIST news archive] told the federal grand jury investigating the CIA leak case that President Bush authorized his disclosure of intelligence information on Iraq, according to the government's response [PDF text] to Libby's third motion to compel discovery [PDF text; exhibits, PDF]. Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald [official website] filed court papers Wednesday which reveal that Libby testified that his July 8, 2003 conversation with New York Times reporter Judith Miller took place "only after the vice president advised defendant that the president specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information" in a National Intelligence Estimate [Wikipedia backgrounder; definition], a document prepared to inform high-level government officials of the vulnerabilities, capabilities and probable courses of action of foreign countries. The court papers did not define "certain information." Miller told the grand jury that she learned the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame from Libby in the July 8 conversation, though Libby has not been charged with leaking Plame's identity or the contents of an NIE report.

Libby faces obstruction of justice and perjury charges [PDF indictment; JURIST report] in connection with the investigation into the leak of Plame's identity [JURIST news archive]. He pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges last November. The latest court filings concern Libby's attempts to obtain classified files [JURIST report] from the government to prepare his defense. AP has more.

In a related development, US District Judge Reggie Walton on Wednesday rejected [opinion, PDF; order, PDF] the prosecution's attempts to make their arguments why Libby should not be granted access to highly classified documents in private, keeping the defense from hearing the arguments. While the request to argue their case without Libby and his lawyers present was denied, Walton did agree to allow prosecutors to submit classified material to the court for review before turning the material over to Libby. AP has more.

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