In the latest legal crossfire of the CIA leak investigation, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's defense team used strong words against Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in an attempt to widen their request for classified documents, as stated in court filings late Wednesday night.
Libby's defense team called the government document production "exceptionally meager" and additionally stated, "This case is factually complex and that the government's notion that it involves only Mr. Libby and [the Office of the Vice President] is a fairy tale."
Libby is requesting a wide range of documents from the White House, State Department and CIA. Fitzgerald has previously urged the court to dismiss Libby's request for information outside White House offices on grounds that it is an "irrelevant distraction from the issues of the case."
Libby says, however, that he needs the documents, including documents he hasn't seen, because they may "illuminate potential witness biases." The defense particularly points to former CIA director George Tenet, saying Tenet had a "bias against Mr. Libby."
The "bias" Libby's lawyers refer to in the court filings appears to arise from past disagreements between the CIA and the vice president's office over the credibility of statements on Iraq.
Libby further requests documents detailing former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger. Libby says these documents are relevant "because the defense may call Mr. Wilson as a hostile witness" and his team needs to prepare to examine him "if necessary on the details of the trip including his wife's role in selecting him [Wilson] for the assignment and the findings he reported to the CIA, and later, the press."
Libby Wasn't Ordered to Leak
Libby's lawyers make it clear in the filing that Libby was not instructed to make disclosures about former CIA agent Valerie Plame-Wilson by President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Libby's lawyers say the prosecutor is trying to "have it both ways" by playing up the role of Bush and Cheney in leaking intelligence on Iraq to reporters but then refusing to turn over evidence in the case.
The defense team emphasized, "Mr. Libby does not contend that he was instructed to make any disclosures concerning Ms. Wilson by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, or anyone else."
In addition, Libby "testified to the grand jury unequivocally that he did not understand Ms. Wilson's employment by the CIA to be classified information," according to the new court filings.
Libby's lawyers focused on three potential witnesses: State Department official Marc Grossman, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, and White House senior adviser Karl Rove.
The defense will likely call Rove as a witness. Rove is still under investigation in the case, but the defense attorneys said that "does not diminish his importance in this case."