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US CIA Leak Trial May Be Slowed By Disputes About Iraq War January 21, 2007

Posted by notapundit in US News.

WASHINGTON (AP)–The slow and contentious selection of a jury to try the U.S. vice president’s former chief of staff may foreshadow a perjury trial constantly interrupted by disputes over how much jurors should hear about the Bush administration’s Iraq war policy.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton intends to finish picking 12 jurors and four alternates Monday in the case against I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. If the judge succeeds, the process will have taken twice as long as the judge originally expected.

Libby’s lawyers, Theodore Wells and William Jeffress, have labored to keep opponents of the war and the administration off the jury. Libby, a former aide to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, is the highest-ranking member of the current Republican administration to face criminal charges.

The potential jurors are drawn from a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 9-to-1.

Defense lawyers asked every juror whether the administration lied about intelligence to push the nation into war in Iraq and whether administration officials are believable, particularly Cheney. He is to be a defense witness.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald objected repeatedly during the first three days that Wells and Jeffress were portraying this as a trial about politics and the war. Fitzgerald argued that “the jury will not be asked to render a verdict on the war or what they think of the war.”

Defense questions were so political that one juror even volunteered that she had voted for Bush, Fitzgerald complained to the judge.

The prosecutor wants the trial to hew closely to the five felony counts against Libby: that Libby obstructed an investigation into the leaking of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity in 2003 and lied to the FBI and a grand jury about three conversations with reporters about her.


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