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Prosecutor says Libby destroyed Cheney memo

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16770023/ Prosecutor says Libby destroyed Cheney memo Fitzgerald says VP told his former top aide about CIA agent s identity
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 23, 2007
      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16770023/

      Prosecutor says Libby destroyed Cheney memo
      Fitzgerald says VP told his former top aide about CIA
      agent's identity

      WASHINGTON - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald
      used his opening statement in the CIA leak trial
      Tuesday to allege that Vice President Dick Cheney's
      chief of staff lied and destroyed a note showing
      Cheney's early involvement.

      Fitzgerald said Cheney told his chief of staff,
      “Scooter” Libby, in 2003 that Wilson’s wife worked for
      the CIA and Libby spread that information to
      reporters. When that information got out, it triggered
      a federal investigation.

      “But when the FBI and grand jury asked about what the
      defendant did,” Fitzgerald said, “he made up a story.”

      Fitzgerald alleged that Libby in September 2003
      “destroyed” a Cheney note just before Libby's first
      FBI interview when he said he learned about Wilson
      from reporters, not the vice president.

      I. Lewis Libby is charged with perjury and
      obstruction. He told investigators he was surprised to
      learn Wilson’s wife’s identity from NBC News reporter
      Tim Russert.

      But Fitzgerald told jurors that was clearly a lie
      because Libby had already been discussing the matter
      inside and outside of the White House. “You can’t
      learn something on Thursday that you’re giving out on
      Monday,” Fitzgerald said.

      Libby says he didn’t lie but was simply bogged down by
      national security issues and couldn’t remember details
      of what he told reporters about CIA officer Valerie
      Plame.

      Fitzgerald believes Libby feared political
      embarrassment and worried he might lose his job for
      discussing classified information with reporters.
      President Bush originally threatened to fire anyone
      who disclosed such information so, Fitzgerald says
      Libby had a reason to lie.

      Too preoccupied to forget?
      Fitzgerald told jurors Tuesday that the trial isn’t
      about the war but that the case will be set against
      the backdrop of the first months of the invasion. He
      is expected to tell jurors that the White House was
      preoccupied with discrediting Wilson’s criticisms, so
      it’s unlikely Libby forgot that effort.

      Libby plans to testify and tell jurors he had many
      other issues on his mind at the time, such as
      terrorist threats and emerging nuclear programs
      overseas. Attorneys say they expect Cheney to testify
      for the defense. Historians say that would be a first
      for a sitting vice president.

      Libby’s attorneys had hoped U.S. District Judge Reggie
      Walton would tell jurors that “memory does not
      function like a tape recorder” and “a person is less
      likely to remember information if he is paying
      attention to several things at once.”

      But Walton has refused to help defense attorneys make
      that point and on Tuesday rejected a request to allow
      defense attorneys to call a memory expert to testify
      at trial.
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