WASHINGTON – Contempt of court orders against Time magazine and one of its reporters were dismissed after the journalist agreed to give a statement to prosecutors probing the Bush administration leak of a covert CIA (search) officer's identity.
In a statement Tuesday, Time said reporter Matthew Cooper agreed to give a deposition after Lewis "Scooter" Libby (search), Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, personally released Cooper from a promise of confidentiality about a conversation the two had last year.
Time and Cooper had been held in contempt earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan for refusing to testify in the leak probe. Hogan rejected their claims, as well as those of "Meet The Press" host Tim Russert, that the First Amendment protected them from having to testify.
Cooper had faced up to 18 months in jail and the magazine could have been forced to pay $1,000 a day under the contempt order, which has now been vacated. Russert avoided the contempt citation by agreeing to an interview with prosecutors earlier this month, again after Libby released him from a confidentiality promise.
Cooper gave his deposition Monday to the special prosecutor appointed in the case, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago, in the Washington office of his lawyer, Floyd Abrams, the magazine statement said. The deposition focused on a single July 2003 conversation about the leak between Cooper and Libby, the statement said.
Investigators are trying to find out who in the Bush administration leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame (search), whose name was published by syndicated columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. Novak cited two "senior administration officials" as his sources. It can be a felony to leak the name of an undercover officer.
The column came out about a week after Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was critical in a newspaper opinion piece about President Bush's claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq (search) sought to obtain uranium in Niger. The CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to investigate that claim, which he concluded was unfounded.
Glenn Kessler, a Washington Post reporter, also agreed to an interview in June after Libby agreed to release him from a similar promise.