Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cheney could be witness in CIA leak case

Cheney could be witness in CIA leak case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney could be called to testify in the CIA leak case involving his former chief of staff, a U.S. prosecutor said in a pre-trial filing made on Wednesday.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald told a federal court that Cheney's hand-written notes on a newspaper article referring to Valerie Plame shortly before she was exposed as a CIA operative were uniquely relevant to the issues in the case.

Fitzgerald was referring to a July 6, 2003, article written by Plame's husband, Bush administration critic and former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Shortly after the article appeared, the identity of Plame as a covert CIA operative was leaked to journalists. Fitzgerald is investigating who blew her cover.

"At the time, the vice president, rather than other potential witnesses, was upset that his personal credibility had been attacked unfairly in his view," Fitzgerald said.

Cheney's former aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to FBI agents and a grand jury during the investigation. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to go to trial in January.

In the court filing, Fitzgerald said Libby has acknowledged that the vice president directed him "to get out to the public all the facts" in response to the article.

"Therefore, the state of mind of the vice president as communicated to defendant is directly relevant to the issue of whether defendant knowingly made false statements to federal agents and the grand jury regarding when and how he learned about Ms. Wilson's employment and what he said to reporters regarding this issue," Fitzgerald said in the court filing.