WASHINGTON – A former White House aide facing perjury charges will get only a prosecutor’s summary of classified documents assessing the damage to national security from the leak of a CIA officer’s identity, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton also said lawyers for Lewis Libby must settle for a prosecutor’s version of information contained in secret government documents that describe CIA officer Valerie Plame’s employment history.
Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to the FBI and a federal grand jury about how he learned about Plame’s CIA status and what he subsequently told reporters about her.
Walton said Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald convinced him that providing Libby’s lawyers with classified documents “could cause serious if not grave damage to the national security of the United States.”
In a separate order Friday, Walton reiterated his denial during a hearing last month of Libby’s requests for any documents generated by officials in the White House, CIA and State Department about a trip Plame’s husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, took at the CIA’s request in early 2002 to Niger.
The CIA sought to determine whether there was any truth to reports that Saddam Hussein’s government had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger to make a nuclear weapon. Wilson discounted the reports. Nevertheless, the allegation wound up in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address.
Syndicated columnist Robert Novak named Plame in a column on July 14, 2003, eight days after Wilson alleged in an opinion piece in The New York Times that the Bush administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq to justify going to war.
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