Judge Says Audio Tapes Won't Be Public in CIA Leak Trial

A federal judge said Tuesday he would not make available daily audio recordings of the upcoming trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.

News organizations had asked that recordings of testimony and arguments be released for broadcast. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton denied the request, saying the only recording of court proceedings is done by the court stenographer to help ensure an accurate transcript.

"This recording, however, is produced by the court reporter's personal equipment and is not the official record of the proceedings," Walton said. "It is therefore not available to the public."

The Supreme Court releases audio recordings of arguments in major cases, and lower federal courts have started to follow the Supreme Court's lead, lawyers for the news organizations said in court documents.

Broadcasting court proceedings — along with commentary and analysis — could prejudice jurors and lead to an unfair trial, Walton said.

The trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is to begin Jan. 16. He is accused of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI about his conversations with journalists regarding CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Cheney is expected to testify for his former aide, and other witnesses are expected to include NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert.

The organizations that filed the request are ABC, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News, CNN, CBS, Dow Jones, E.W. Scripps, the Hearst Corp., the Los Angeles Times, the McClatchey Co., NBC, National Public Radio, USA Today, The Washington Post, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Newspaper Association of America, the Radio-Television News Directors Association, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Society of Professional Journalists.