Fitzgerald: Libby has all the evidence he needs

    Granting a former White House aide’s demands for classified documents
    to aid his defense in the CIA leak investigation would torpedo the
    case, the prosecutor is arguing.

    Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald suggests that allowing I. Lewis
    “Scooter” Libby access to the documents _ many of which Libby read or
    wrote while working for Vice President Dick Cheney _ would have a
    “breathtaking” impact on national security.

    In arguments filed late Thursday, Fitzgerald said Libby’s lawyers
    were trying to derail the perjury and obstruction case by pressing for
    nearly a year’s worth of presidential daily briefs, summaries of
    threats to the U.S. that are among the government’s most closely
    guarded secrets.

    Fitzgerald also asked U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to
    protect the ongoing grand jury investigation by not forcing the release
    of the identities of other “individuals” who discussed a covert CIA
    officer with reporters in 2003.

    In his filings, Fitzgerald also notes that he was submitting a sworn
    statement, filed under seal with Walton, detailing his reasons for
    keeping secret the names of people who talked to reporters, for keeping
    secret the names of others involved in the investigation, and his
    strategy in the ongoing grand jury probe.

    The prosecutor’s public filing offers no insight into the identities
    or positions held by other people who talked to reporters about the CIA
    officer, other than to describe them as worthy of privacy protections
    because they likely will not be charged with wrongdoing.

    The filing does not reveal whether presidential adviser Karl Rove
    remains under scrutiny. Fitzgerald also does not indicate whether he is
    investigating Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s source, whose
    existence was revealed after Libby was indicted last year.

    Libby, 55, is charged with lying about how he learned CIA operative
    Valerie Plame’s identity and when he subsequently told reporters.
    Libby’s trial is set for January 2007.

    Fitzgerald accused Libby of attempting to commit “greymail,” a
    reference to past attempts by government officials charged with
    wrongdoing to derail their prosecutions by trying to expose national
    security secrets.

    On Friday, Libby attorney John Cline denied that the defense was
    trying to derail the case. “We are working lawfully and properly … to
    obtain documents essential to Mr. Libby’s defense,” he said. “All we
    want is a limited number of key documents that Mr. Libby either wrote
    or reviewed during the most critical period in his case.”

    Libby’s lawyers want the secret briefings prepared for President
    Bush to show that Libby had more pressing matters on his mind than the
    disclosure of Plame’s identity.

    Fitzgerald dismissed Libby’s “preoccupation defense,” saying the
    prosecution already has given defense attorneys more than 11,000 pages
    of classified and unclassified evidence _ more than required under law.

    But the defense team also wants every Presidential Daily Brief from
    May 2003 to March 2004, amounting to 277 intelligence reports.

    The prosecutor warned the judge that turning over such highly
    classified documents would provoke a lengthy legal battle with the

    Libby also is seeking access to more information about news
    reporters, CIA records about Plame and any damage assessments of the
    public disclosure of her identity to national security.

    Fitzgerald said he has given the defense everything he has gathered
    on Libby’s conversations with reporters. But the prosecutor said he is
    not required to provide statements and testimony of reporters who will
    be called as government witnesses at trial.

    He predicted that allowing Libby to press other reporters to
    identify their sources will lead to legal fights with news
    organizations and delay the trial.

    Plame’s identity was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert
    Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused
    the administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq’s efforts to buy
    uranium “yellowcake” in Niger. The year before, the CIA had sent Wilson
    to Niger to determine the accuracy of the uranium reports.