Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 83 Astral Silver 280 SL
Location: Planet Houston
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Coming up: an inside look at the New American Fascist State
Secret Tapes of Libby testimony to be released
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
3 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Audio recordings of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's secret grand jury testimony will be released publicly after they are presented at his trial, the judge at Libby's trial ruled Monday.
In a victory for the news media, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said he had little choice but to make them public under the law as applied in the federal court system in Washington, D.C, even though he has concerns about releasing the recordings while the case is under way.
Libby is charged with perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI in an indictment that focuses in part on his statements to a federal grand jury investigating the leak of the CIA identity of Valerie Plame.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald successfully fought to enter the tapes into evidence and plans to play about eight hours of Libby's closed-door testimony.
Although segments of Libby's testimony would be widely distributed by reporters who are monitoring the trial, Libby's lawyers had argued that the audio itself was too sensitive to be released until the trial ends.
One of Libby's lawyers, William Jeffress, said that playing sound bites of the defendant's grand jury appearances in a public setting "seriously threatens Mr. Libby's right to a fair trial."
From the news media's perspective, "it's great stuff," Jeffress told the judge in asking that the recordings not be released during the trial.
Media attorney Nathan Siegel said publicly releasing the grand jury recordings during the trial is hardly "some novel proposition."
Siegel, representing The Associated Press and more than a dozen other news organizations, argued that Libby's own words are far less prejudicial than evidence that has been released in other cases, including 911 calls from inside the World Trade Center, the FBI tapes in the Abscam investigation and mob wiretap tapes.
Jeffress argued that the news media will undoubtedly issue commentary to accompany any excerpts it plays from the audio recordings of Libby's grand jury testimony.
Libby's lawyer pointed to the potential for jurors to be exposed to the recordings outside the courtroom, since they are away from the court three days a week and ride back and forth to the courthouse.
"I have my concerns," Walton said, adding that cases in the federal judicial circuit covering Washington, D.C., point to disclosure of the material rather than waiting until the trial is over.
Libby is charged with lying to the grand jury about how he found about the CIA identity of the wife of Bush administration critic Joe Wilson (news, bio, voting record) and what Libby told reporters about Wilson's wife.
The tapes would almost certainly be played on television, radio and the Internet.
In the tapes, Libby discusses conversations he had regarding Plame, whose identity was leaked to reporters in 2003.
Nobody was charged with the leak. Fitzgerald said that Libby learned Plame's identity from his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, and discussed it with journalists. Libby says he forgot about his conversation with Cheney and, when he heard about Plame from NBC reporter Tim Russert weeks later, it struck him as new information.
Fitzgerald says Libby concocted that story to protect himself from prosecution because repeating rumors from reporters is less serious than repeating sensitive information from Cheney.
The tapes are expected to take up much of Monday and part of Tuesday. Russert is scheduled to be Fitzgerald's last witness, most likely late Tuesday.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address