Friday, February 24, 2006

Libby's lawyers ask to dismiss perjury case

Libby's lawyers ask to dismiss perjury case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawyers for an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, who faces perjury charges, asked a judge on Thursday to throw out the case on the grounds that the prosecutor was appointed improperly.

Since both Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Attorney General John Ashcroft removed themselves from the investigation because of their close ties to the White House, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald reports to David Margolis, a career Justice Department lawyer.

Lawyers for Lewis "Scooter" Libby argued that because Fitzgerald does not report to the attorney general, he should not have been appointed by a deputy at the Justice Department.

"Because he was not appointed to that office by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate, he holds that authority improperly," Libby's lawyers wrote.

Fitzgerald was picked by then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey in December 2003 to investigate who leaked the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame to reporters after her husband accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence on Iraq's nuclear weapons to justify the 2003 invasion.

Plame's career at the CIA effectively ended after her identity was made public.

Libby is charged with lying to a grand jury about his conversations with reporters about Plame. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in January 2007.

In other filings Libby's lawyers have argued that any inconsistencies in his testimony come from a faulty memory.