June 29, 2005

So you're saying the leaker is I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney?

Two interesting letters on Romenesko.

From SUSAN STABLEY, reporter, South Florida Business Journal: I don't understand why, in all the recent articles about Miller-Cooper-Novak and the Plame case, no one states the name of the leaker. The man who revealed the identity of an undercover CIA agent was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, at least, according to Cooper.

Cooper was the speaker at the recent SPJ awards in South Florida. He told a room full of reporters that he revealed his source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- after Libby released him from his obligation to protect his identity. The Washington Post reported the identity of Cooper's source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- in August 2004. Cooper told us at the SPJ event that his current legal crisis had to do with a follow-up subpoena from investigators who were fishing for all his notes....

So, again, why why why, is not the name of the source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- in every single story about Miller-Cooper-Novak? And instead of wondering about Novak, I want to know: what will happen to Libby?

The second letter, from James Cole, zeroes in on a point Stabley kind of buries, about Miller/Cooper's "current legal crisis": "We don't know if Miller knows the leaker. We don't know if that's what the prosecutor is seeking." Most articles either obscure this or get it flat wrong. Here's Mediaweek to choose just one: "Judge Hogan held Miller -- a New York Times reporter -- and Cooper, who writes for Time magazine, in contempt last fall, ordering them jailed for failing to disclose who leaked the identity of CIA Agent Valerie Plame." In fact, the prosecutor is on a fishing expedition, apparently designed to intimidate the press rather than punish the leaker. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


That's awesome. Libby was always my guess . . . for no other reason than that I dislike him. Hope this is right.


August 25, 2004

HEADLINE: Journalist Testifies in CIA Case;
Contempt Charges Against Time Reporter Are Dropped

BYLINE: Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post Staff Writer

A federal judge yesterday canceled a contempt-of-court order against Time magazine and one of its reporters, Matthew Cooper, after Cooper was interviewed by Justice Department prosecutors investigating who leaked the identity of a covert CIA operative to journalists.

Officials at Time said Cooper, who had been threatened with jail time for refusing to respond to a grand jury subpoena, gave a deposition Monday about his conversations with a single anonymous source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Cheney -- after Libby waived Cooper's responsibility to keep their conversations on the topic confidential. Time officials said Libby was the only source of Cooper's that special counsel prosecutors asked about.

Cooper is at least the third journalist to answer questions under pressure from prosecutors about private conversations with Libby in July 2003. The inquiry seeks to determine whether any senior administration official knowingly revealed the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame to syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak and other journalists. It can be a felony to do so intentionally.

"Matt would have gone to jail if Libby didn't waive his right to confidentiality . . . and we would have fought all the way to the Supreme Court," said Time Managing Editor Jim Kelly. "Matt has been absolutely steadfast in his desire to protect anonymous sources."

U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan on Aug. 6 found Cooper and Time in contempt of court. Cooper faced as long as 18 months in jail, and the magazine could have been fined $1,000 a day, until he answered Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's questions. Time appealed but acknowledged it had little hope of persuading a higher court to put reporters' confidentiality agreements above the interests of a criminal investigation.

The inquiry was sparked by a July 14, 2003, column by Novak that first named Plame. The column questioned the findings of Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, whom the CIA sent to Niger in 2002 to investigate claims that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in the African nation for its weapons-of-mass-destruction program.

At the time, Wilson was a prominent critic of Bush administration statements on Iraq's efforts on such weapons and their use in the buildup to war. He suggested that his wife's identity was leaked in retaliation but has since backed off that claim.

Novak wrote that two administration officials said Wilson was recommended for the CIA mission by his wife, offered it as an explanation for his selection and raised doubt about his expertise.

Novak and his attorney James Hamilton have refused to say whether the columnist has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, and declined again yesterday.

Subpoenas were recently issued to Walter Pincus of The Washington Post, who wrote in October 2003 that White House officials had talked to a Post reporter about Plame, and Judith Miller of the New York Times. The Post filed a motion to quash Pincus's subpoena Friday, arguing that the First Amendment gives reporters a privilege to protect confidential sources. A hearing is expected in September.

Two Newsday reporters were asked by Fitzgerald to answer questions this spring, and threatened with subpoenas, but they declined to talk. They said yesterday that they have not been contacted again.

Cooper's reluctant decision to cooperate with prosecutors has shed more light on the unusual year-long investigation but left many questions unanswered. So far, Fitzgerald has focused enormous investigative energy poring through the records of Cheney's top aide and interviewing journalists who spoke with him.

NBC Washington correspondent Tim Russert and Post reporter Glenn Kessler gave interviews to Fitzgerald under similar circumstances earlier this summer, also with waivers from Libby. Both journalists said they did not have to identify confidential sources and they told Fitzgerald that Libby did not reveal Plame's name to them.

Lawyers and journalists involved in the case say Fitzgerald is going through a methodical process of elimination for all contacts between reporters and senior administration officials last summer, and is waiting until the end to question Novak.

"To go about finding out who Novak's sources are by going after half the journalists in town seems pretty indirect, and a little weird," said Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "I think it's absolutely clear these reporters don't have information that goes to the heart of who the leaker is. "


I had always wondered what happened to that guy once the Muppet Show was canceled...

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