Libby's Lawyers Want Classified Docs for CIA Leak Defense

The CIA has the classified documents that a former White House aide needs to defend himself against charges that he lied about the leaking of a CIA operative's identity, defense lawyers said Friday.

Lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, said in a court filing that they are asking for 300 to 500 documents that were part of the highly classified President's Daily Brief, a summary of intelligence on threats against the United States.

Libby's lawyers said that a CIA official conducted national security briefings for Libby and Cheney six days a week and provided follow up materials when asked.

"We believe that the CIA maintains meticulous, readily accessible, computer-based records," and can easily compile the materials that were provided to Libby, the defense lawyers said.

The filing was in response to a request by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton in preparation for a hearing Friday on the defense's motions for the classified documents.

Fitzgerald has argued that defense attorneys' demands for so many classified documents amounts to "greymail," the practice of trying to derail prosecutions by seeking to expose national security secrets.

Walton asked the defense attorneys and Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to explain in more detail what documents are being sought, how many, where they are kept and how easy it would be to compile them.

Libby, 55, was charged in an indictment last year with lying about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's identity and when he subsequently told reporters.

Plame's identity was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium "yellowcake" in Niger. The year before, the CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to determine the accuracy of the uranium reports.

Libby's trial is set for January 2007.