WASHINGTON – Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby says that during the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity he was preoccupied with terrorist threats, Iraq's new government and emerging nuclear programs in Iran, Pakistan and North Korea.
Court records released Friday offered the first glimpse at the type of classified information Libby wants to share with jurors at his upcoming perjury and obstruction trial.
Libby plans to testify that he had other, more weighty issues on his mind and simply misspoke or forgot when interviewed by the FBI and the grand jury.
Among those issues were the 2003 rise of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, a diplomatic crisis in Turkey, the ousting of Liberian President Charles Taylor and the role of the Iraqi military after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ruled last month that Libby must have access to some classified information at trial but, until Friday, the topics were sealed.
A redacted copy of Walton's opinion revealed that Libby wants to use 129 classified documents. Walton said Libby could discuss documents that fell on or near key dates in the case, such as when the aide spoke to reporters and investigators.
Exactly what Libby may say about these topics is unclear. Prosecutors and defense attorneys continued to argue those issues behind closed doors this week.
Walton said he tried to balance national security concerns with Libby's right to a fair trial. The judge stressed that pre-approving classified evidence "requires a court to play the role of Johnny Carson's character Carnac the Magnificent by requiring it to render rulings before knowing the exact context of how those rulings will coincide with other evidence that has actually been developed at trial."
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has said he may appeal Walton's ruling, a move that could delay a trial scheduled to begin next month.