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Time Reporter Again Subpoenaed Over Leak

September 16, 2004|Richard B. Schmitt | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — A Time reporter has been subpoenaed a second time by the prosecutor investigating the disclosure of a CIA operative's identity, a lawyer for the magazine confirmed Wednesday.

The reporter, Matthew Cooper, had given a deposition to special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald after being held in contempt and threatened with jail time for refusing to answer questions.

Time will fight the second subpoena, attorney Robin Bierstedt said. "We don't think reporters should be compelled to disclose their confidential sources," she said.

Fitzgerald is investigating whether the Bush administration leaked the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA agent and the wife of a former State Department envoy. Her name was disclosed in a column by Robert Novak that was published July 14, 2003.

Fitzgerald has subpoenaed a number of journalists who may have had conversations with administration officials around the time of the Novak column. It is against the law to knowingly disclose the identity of a CIA operative.

The investigation has sparked a battle over the extent to which the 1st Amendment protects reporters from demands that they reveal the identity of sources to whom they have promised confidentiality.

Cooper's first deposition was limited to conversations he had last year with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Time said Cooper had agreed to answer questions after Libby released him from a pledge of confidentiality.

Plame is married to former envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV, a critic of the Iraq war, who in a recent memoir speculated that Libby was "quite possibly the person who exposed my wife's identity."

People familiar with the case said that Fitzgerald now wants to investigate other sources used by Cooper but that the prosecutor has not specified whom.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald declined to comment.

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