Attorneys for Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff told a federal court yesterday that they plan to subpoena several journalists and news organizations to obtain their notes and other information they consider useful in defending their client from perjury charges.
The plan for defending I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is likely to substantially delay his trial and create another round of tense First Amendment battles over whether a court can compel reporters to turn over information about the confidential sources in Libby's criminal case.
In yesterday's court papers, Libby's attorneys hinted at two key elements of their defense strategy. First, they signaled plans to independently investigate journalists involved in the case -- a move that legal experts said would seek to raise doubts about the accuracy of the reporters' memories and methods.
Second, defense attorneys are expected to delve into whether other administration officials mentioned Plame to reporters before Libby did, which would allow them to cast doubt on the prosecutor's assertions. Defense lawyers have said that Bob Woodward, a reporter and assistant managing editor at The Washington Post, helped their case when he revealed in November that another administration source, not Libby, told him about Plame's CIA role before Libby is believed to have first mentioned her to a reporter.
My extensive thoughts are here.
MORE: Someone ought to mention the recent Wen Ho Lee rulings, which buttressed the right of the defense to go after journalists.
UPDATE: Jeralyn Merritt has excerpts from the court filing and thoughts of her own. From the court filing, I will highlight points (A) and (D):
6. It is the position of the defense, based on the government’s written and oral responses to our requests, that significant disagreements exist between the parties with respect to the nature and scope of the government’s obligations under Rule 16 and Brady. These disagreements include, but are not limited to, the following:
A. Whether information in the government’s possession about reporters’ knowledge concerning Valerie Wilson’s employment by the CIA from sources other than Mr. Libby is material to the preparation of the defense. The defendant has already prepared and expects to file a motion to compel disclosure of such information on or before February 3, 2006. on or before February 3, a motion concerning this issue.
...D. Whether information concerning Mrs. Wilson’s status as a CIA employee, and the allegedly classified nature of that employment, is material to the preparation of the defense. The government intends to address this issue with the Court and the defense pursuant to CIPA.
What did other reporters tell Fitzgerald, and was Ms. Plame really covert in a meaningful sense. Good questions.