Judge says nada to Libby on Times reporters’ notes

A judge rejected a request by former White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby on Friday to force ex-New York Times reporter Judith Miller to turn over all her notes, telephone records and appointment calendar but reporters from Time and NBC must provide notes.

After reviewing the documents in private, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton granted a request by Miller’s attorneys to throw out Libby’s subpoena.

He ruled the requests for Miller’s appointment calendar and her telephone records from June 7 to July 14 in 2003 “appear to be nothing more than a fishing expedition.”

Libby’s lawyers already have parts of two notebooks that Miller gave special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald about the CIA official whose identity was disclosed, her diplomat husband and his trip to Africa.

But Libby’s lawyers wanted the entire notebooks, without any deletions.

Walton said he examined every page in the notebooks and agreed with Miller’s lawyers that the deleted parts would not be relevant to Libby’s defense.

Libby is charged with lying to investigators as they sought to determine who leaked the identity of CIA official Valerie Plame after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence to build its case for invading Iraq.

Plame’s identity was made public by conservative columnist Robert Novak in July 2003.

The prosecutor relied on the testimony of Miller, Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine and Tim Russert of NBC News in bringing the perjury charges against Libby in late October.

Walton rejected the argument by the journalists and their news organizations that they cannot be forced to provide any of the requested documents because of a privilege under the First Amendment and the law protecting reporters from such disclosures.

The judge upheld a different subpoena by Libby’s lawyers for earlier draft articles by Miller and Cooper.

Although Walton concluded The New York Times, NBC News and NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell have relevant documents, they will not be required to turn them over until he issues a final ruling on their admissibility during the trial, which is scheduled to begin in January.