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CIA told to give papers to Libby

Associated Press
Published March 11, 2006

WASHINGTON - A federal judge ordered the CIA on Friday to turn over highly classified intelligence briefings to Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide to use in preparing the aide's defense against perjury charges.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton rejected CIA warnings that the nation's security would be imperiled if the presidential-level documents were disclosed to lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff.

The judge said the CIA can either delete highly classified portions from the briefing material and provide what amounts to a "table of contents" of what Libby and Cheney received six days a week. Or, Walton said, the CIA can produce "topic overviews" of the matters covered in the briefings.

The judge also ordered the CIA to give Libby an index of the topics covered in followup questions that the former White House aide asked intelligence officers who conducted the briefings.

"The court has painstakingly endeavored to ensure that the defendant is provided with information he truly needs to prepare his defense," Walton said.

In seeking CIA input late last month, Walton appeared to have been trying to broker a compromise between defense attorneys and prosecutors to avoid a lengthy court battle with the Bush administration over the briefing material. The judge's order indicates he is ready for such a fight. He set a schedule for the Bush administration to file any objections by March 24.

The ruling is a partial victory for Libby, who is charged with lying in the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

But Walton noted in his ruling that most of what he ordered Libby to receive probably won't be revealed to a jury.

[Last modified March 11, 2006, 01:44:48]

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