Cheney won’t testify in Libby trial

Vice President Dick Cheney will not be called as a witness in the trial of his former top aide Lewis Libby, who is accused lying about the disclosure of a CIA operative’s name, defense lawyers said.

Speaking before the final day of testimony in the trial, Libby’s lead defense attorney, Tedd Wells, said plans to call Cheney to testify had been dropped.

Cheney was on the list of possible witnesses in the trial and had promised to cooperate fully with the court.

Libby, 56, has denied charges of obstructing justice, perjury and making false statements before a grand jury. Guilty verdicts on all charges could bring as many as 30 years in prison.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are due to make their closing arguments on February 20, when the jury will begin its deliberations.

President George W. Bush’s critics charge senior officials deliberately blew the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame to punish her husband, ex-diplomat Joseph Wilson, for criticizing the White House’s rationale for war in Iraq.

Prosecutors opened a leak probe after Plame’s name appeared in the press in 2003. Revealing a CIA agent’s identity can be a federal crime, although Libby is not charged with the leak.

Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse