WASHINGTON Attorneys for former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will be allowed to narrowly question journalist Judith Miller about other government officials she spoke with regarding an outed CIA operative, a federal judge ruled today.
Libby's attorneys want to discredit the former New York Times reporter, whose testimony directly conflicts with what Libby told FBI agents investigating the CIA leak. He is accused of lying and obstructing that investigation.
Miller testified for more than two hours yesterday about two conversations she had in mid-2003 with Libby regarding the CIA operative, Valerie Plame. Those conversations are at the heart of Libby's perjury and obstruction trial because they allegedly occurred well before Libby says he learned Plame's identity from another reporter.
Miller's testimony is continuing today. U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said attorneys could question Miller about who else she spoke with about Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. But Walton also said that attorneys could not ask about her conversations regarding prewar intelligence on Iraq and a possible uranium deal in Niger issues that Wilson was raising publicly in 2003.
Libby's attorneys want to show that Miller may have learned Plame's identity elsewhere because she was asking questions about Wilson. They also believe she selectively remembers certain conversations but not others.
"If she's talking to lots of people about Joe Wilson, the likelihood is somebody may have mentioned, 'His wife works at the CIA,'" defense attorney William Jeffress said. "It's my belief she cannot name a single person she talked to about Joe Wilson. I don't think this is an issue about sources. It's a question of credibility."
Variations of Plame's name appear in her notes, but Miller said she believed Libby was the first to discuss it.
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's case began as an investigation into who leaked Plame's name to reporters at a time when her husband was criticizing the Bush administration. Three years later, nobody has been charged with the leak. Libby is accused of obstructing the case and lying to investigators.
Journalism organizations have decried this trial, which could see 10 reporters become witnesses. Fitzgerald intends to call Matthew Cooper of Time and NBC's Tim Russert. Jeffress has said that up to seven reporters are on his witness list.