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Now Can We Impeach?
Libby told grand jury he was ordered to leak intelligence
By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON · Former White House official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby told a grand jury in 2004 that Vice President Dick Cheney was upset by an ambassador's public questioning of the Iraq war and that President Bush, Cheney and Libby were involved in a plan -- kept secret from other senior White House officials -- to leak previously classified intelligence to reporters to counter the criticism.
Libby's audiotape testimony, played for jurors in federal court, offered new details about how the White House orchestrated a campaign to discredit the Iraq war critic, Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.
Wilson's wife, undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, was subsequently exposed in the media, triggering a criminal investigation.
As Libby sat silently in the courtroom, jurors heard his disembodied voice describe how he was instructed to leak intelligence secrets to select reporters, even as other White House officials were expressing concern over the leaks and debating whether the administration should formally declassify intelligence reports on Iraq to combat criticism of the case for war.
At one point, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald can be heard on the tapes expressing disbelief that Libby would take part in those meetings without disclosing that the president had effectively already declassified key portions of one of the main prewar pieces of intelligence on Iraq, a national intelligence estimate on the nation's alleged banned weapons programs.
"Was that unusual for you to have the national security adviser, the director of central intelligence, the White House chief of staff, among others, in the dark as to something that you had done regarding declassification?" Fitzgerald asked.
"It is not unusual for the vice president to tell me something which I am not allowed to share with others," Libby replied.
Libby's remarks came during a day in court devoted entirely to playing audiotapes of the former Cheney aide's grand jury testimony, allowing jurors to listen to the defendant's voice as he made a series of statements that prosecutors have labeled lies.
Libby faces five felony counts alleging perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice for what he told investigators about his role in the campaign to discredit Wilson.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Co. newspaper.