Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fitzgerald fires opening salvo in CIA leak trial

WASHINGTON - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald used his opening statement in the CIA leak trial Tuesday to describe a tumultuous week early in the Iraq war, when he said the White House was "under direct attack" and pushed back against criticism by former ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Fitzgerald said Vice President Dick Cheney told his chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, in 2003 that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and Libby spread that information to reporters. When that information got out, it triggered a federal investigation.

"But when the FBI and grand jury asked about what the defendant did," Fitzgerald said, "he made up a story."

I. Lewis Libby is charged with perjury and obstruction. He told investigators he was surprised to learn Wilson's wife's identity from NBC News reporter Tim Russert, not from the vice president. But Fitzgerald told jurors that was clearly a lie because Libby had already been discussing the matter inside and outside of the White House.

"You can't learn something on Thursday that you're giving out on Monday," Fitzgerald said.

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