Saturday, February 04, 2006

Libby trial conveniently (for Republicans) not set to start until months after the mid-term elections

Trial date set in CIA leak case

A US judge has set a trial date of next January for a top White House aide who faces charges relating to the leaking of a CIA agent's identity to the press.

Jury selection for the trial of Lewis Libby starts on 8 January 2007, pushing the case back beyond crucial mid-term elections in November.

The delay stems from the defence lawyer's engagement in another trial.

Valerie Plame's identity was leaked in 2003. Her husband, a former diplomat, had criticised the US Iraq war policy.


District Judge Reggie Walton said in Washington he had hoped to start the trial in September, but defence lawyer Theodore Wells was committed to another case.

"I hate having the case linger for that long, but I guess there is no alternative," said Judge Walton.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, denies five charges of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice.

Ms Plame's identity was revealed in a column by journalist Robert Novak in July 2003.

Critics of the government of George W Bush say it was leaked by senior officials to blow Ms Plame's cover as a punishment for her husband, the former diplomat Joseph Wilson.

He had criticised the government's reasons for going to war with Iraq.

Mr Libby's only word in the 45-minute hearing was to say "yes" to agreeing to the trial date.

The trial is expected to take about one month.

The chief adviser to President George W Bush, Karl Rove, is still under investigation in connection with the leaking of the agent's identity.

Story from BBC NEWS: