Vice President Dick Cheney talked with top White House officials about how to respond to reporters’ inquiries into who leaked the identity of a CIA operative, according to a court filing.
Cheney told the FBI about his recollection of discussions with his former top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and other White House officials on the media’s questions. But the Obama administration is fighting in court to keep the substance of what Cheney revealed to the FBI from the public.
The FBI interviewed Cheney in 2004 as it was investigating the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity to reporters the year before. Her name was revealed after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, criticized the Bush administration’s prewar intelligence on Iraq.
The leak touched off a lengthy inquiry that led to Libby being convicted on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators about his conversations with reporters. Libby told the FBI it was possible that Cheney ordered him to reveal Plame’s identity to the media.
The liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit last year seeking records related to Cheney’s FBI interview.
In a court filing Wednesday, Acting Assistant Attorney General David Barron argued that parts of Cheney’s interview should be kept secret because they involve confidential deliberations among White House officials. Barron said their disclosure could limit frank and open discussion about matters of national importance in the White House in the future.
He said Cheney’s recollection of discussions with Libby, the White House communications director and chief of staff about media inquiries into the Plame leak were among those portions that should be protected. He also included Cheney’s discussions with the CIA director about Wilson’s trip and his role in resolving disputes about declassifying "certain information" in that category.
Barron’s filing was first reported Thursday on The Washington Post’s Web site.