WASHINGTON Two news organizations are asking a federal judge to unseal documents in the case of a CIA agent whose name was leaked, arguing that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald never needed the testimony of reporters who were threatened with jail time because he knew the source of the leak all along.
The Associated Press and Dow Jones, in court papers filed this week, asked for the release of the sworn statements Fitzgerald used to justify subpoenas for former New York Times reporter Judith Miller who was jailed in 2005 for refusing to testify and for Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.
Fitzgerald wanted the reporters' help in his investigation of the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to syndicated columnist Robert Novak.
Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify. Cooper testified under a court order.
"Recently the public learned that the special counsel's pursuit of those reporters was entirely unnecessary for him to determine who leaked Ms. Plame's name to Mr. Novak," lawyers for the news services wrote.
Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has acknowledged being Novak's source but said it was a passing, inadvertent conversation. He also said he told Fitzgerald about the conversation as soon as the investigation began.
Lawyers for the news organizations said the public has the right to know why Fitzgerald testified that he needed the testimony of reporters to continue the investigation. The only way to know that, the lawyers argued, is to unseal Fitzgerald's affidavits and the court's full legal opinion on the issue.
No one was charged with the leak. Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was charged with lying to investigators and to grand jurors. He is scheduled to go on trial in January.