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Top Cheney Aide Indicted; CIA Leak Inquiry Continues

I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby steps down after being charged with five felony counts, capping a trouble-ridden week for the Bush White House.

October 29, 2005|Richard B. Schmitt, Janet Hook and James Gerstenzang | Times Staff Writers

"At the end of the day, what appears is that Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true," Fitzgerald said. "It was false. He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter, and that he lied about it afterward under oath and repeatedly."

As a result of Libby's alleged lies, Fitzgerald said during the press conference, prosecutors have been unable to learn everything they wanted in their probe to determine whether leaking Plame's CIA affiliation constituted a crime.

Fitzgerald said Libby would be arraigned at a later date in U.S. District Court in Washington. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. Fitzgerald said that Libby would not be arrested, and that authorities were working with his lawyers to agree on a time that he would surrender.


Times staff writers Mary Curtius, Tom Hamburger and Richard Simon contributed to this report.



The Players

The indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff followed a federal inquiry into the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative. The key figures:


The couple

Joseph C. Wilson IV, Former U.S. ambassador, husband of Valerie Plame The former diplomat says that on a mission for the CIA, he found little evidence that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. His later public statements challenged the administration's case for war.

Valerie Plame, CIA operative

She worked as a covert officer on weapons of mass destruction. Her identity became public in Robert Novak's column on July 14, 2003.


The administration

Dick Cheney, Vice president

What they knew: CIA told Cheney about Wilson, his wife and his mission to Niger.

What they did: Discussed Wilson's wife with his chief of staff in June 2003 but was not Libby's only source.

What happened: Interviewed by prosecutors; could be called to testify if Libby goes to trial.


I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff


What they knew: He learned from multiple government sources that Wilson's wife was in the CIA and may have played a role in his Niger assignment.

What they did: Is alleged to have made false statements to FBI agents and the grand jury about his discussions concerning Plame.

What happened: Indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements.


Karl Rove, White House, deputy chief of staff

What they knew: Learned that Wilson's wife was a CIA employee.

What they did: Talked to Cooper and Novak about Wilson's trip and his wife's possible role.

What happened: Appeared before the grand jury four times but was not indicted. Prosecutors have told his attorney an indictment is still possible.


The journalists

Robert Novak, Syndicated columnist, TV commentator

What they knew: Was told by two senior administration sources that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and had a role in her husband's Niger trip.

What they did: In his column, he identified Plame as a CIA operative.

What happened: His column triggered a special prosecutor's investigation that resulted in Friday's indictment.


Matthew Cooper Reporter, Time magazine

What they knew: Heard from Rove that Wilson's wife was responsible for her husband's mission. Libby told him he'd heard the same.

What they did: Told the grand jury about his conversation with Libby but at first refused to reveal Rove as a source.

What happened: Avoided going to jail for refusing to testify when Rove released him last summer from his promise not to disclose their conversation. He testified.


Judith Miller, Reporter, New York Times

What they knew: Discussed Plame in three conversations with Libby.

What they did: She spent nearly three months in jail for refusing to reveal her source.

What happened: She testified in September, after Libby released her from her confidentiality pledge.


Sources: U.S. grand jury indictment, Times reporting, Associated Press. Graphics reporting by Cheryl Brownstein-Santiago, Tom Reinken


The charges

The five charges against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby carry a total maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines. A look at the charges as outlined in a 22-page indictment:

Count 1: Obstruction of justice

The grand jury charges that Libby did "knowingly and corruptly endeavor to influence, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice ... by misleading and deceiving the grand jury" about when and how he learned that covert operative Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. He also is accused of misleading the grand jury about how he disclosed that information to the media.

Count 2: False statement

The grand jury charges that Libby "did knowingly and willfully make a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement" in an FBI investigation. Specifically, the indictment says Libby misled FBI agents in response to questions about a conversation with Tim Russert of NBC News in July 2003.

Count 3: False statement

Libby is charged with misleading FBI agents about his July 2003 conversation with reporter Matthew Cooper of Time magazine.

Count 4: Perjury

After taking an oath to testify truthfully, Libby knowingly made a "false material declaration" about his conversation with Russert, the grand jury alleges.

Count 5: Perjury

Also under oath, Libby is accused of knowingly making a "false material declaration" about his conversation with Cooper.

Source: Associated Press

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