tampabay.com

CIA leak case in jurors' hands

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published February 22, 2007


WASHINGTON - Jurors deliberated Wednesday without reaching a verdict on whether former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby obstructed the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA operative married to a prominent Iraq war critic.

The eight women and four men heard 14 days of testimony, a full day of closing arguments and more than an hour of instructions from U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton before beginning their discussions. After 4 1/2 hours of deliberation, the jurors went home until today.

The jurors include a former Washington Post reporter, an MIT-trained economist, a retired math teacher, a former museum curator, a law firm accountant, a Web architect and several retired or current federal workers. There are 10 whites and two blacks - unexpected in a city where blacks outnumber whites more than 2-to-1.

Libby, who was the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, faces five felony counts that carry a combined top penalty of 30 years in prison. If convicted, Libby probably would be sentenced to far less.

On the obstruction count, Walton said they could find Libby guilty if they unanimously decided any one, or more, of three Libby statements were lies: that NBC's Tim Russert asked Libby if Valerie Plame worked at the CIA and said all the reporters knew it, that Libby was surprised to learn the Plame information from Russert or that Libby told Time's Matt Cooper he had heard it from reporters but didn't know it was true.

On one count of lying to the FBI, jurors could find Libby guilty if they found either or both of his statements about the Russert call were lies, Walton explained. The other count of lying to the FBI hinges on Libby's statement about the Cooper call.

On two counts of perjury, jurors would have to weigh various Libby statements to the grand jury about how he learned about Plame's job and whom he told, including four separate statements in one count, Walton said.