Prosecutor in Libby Case: Not Open Season on Reporters

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By: E&P Staff

Talking to the media immediately following the verdict in the Libby/CIA leak case — with “Scooter” Libby found guilty on four of five counts — the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, said reporters’ testimony was key in the case, but called it “unique,” and said people should not assume more cases like this will follow.

He also emphasized that despite reports in conservative media and Web site to the contrary, he was “100%” certain that Valerie Plame was in a “classified” position with the CIA when her name was leaked, although this was not an issue in the trial. He repeated that this was even in the original indictment. “That is just a fact,” he declared.

He said that what he had argued in court — that the case left Vice President Cheney and the White House “under a cloud” — was “not arguing, but was a fact.” And he noted that if Libby or his attorneys approached him with new information at this point, “they can contact us,” as in any case.

Asked by a reporter outside the Washington,D.C. courthouse if this signals a new legal “relationship” with journalists, he answered, “What Libby was doing was not whistleblowing ? the reporters were a witness to a potential crime. There is a difference….there was no other way to proceed in this case but to talk with the reporters in question.

“If reporters were eyewitnesses to a potential crime ? we could not have gotten to the bottom of this without discussion with those reporters…If reporters did not testify we could not have proven that a lie had been told. I caution people to keep this in context.”

Fitzgerald stressed that “any lie under oath is serous, and obviously serous here in a national security investigation.” It was “inconceivable,” he said, that any prosecutor would “walk away” from such a case.

He said he did not expect to file additional charges “but if information comes further we will follow.” But he added, “We’re all going back to our day jobs.”

Fitzgerald said information in the case would remain secret: “We won’t be opening up our files to let you guys write newspapers articles or books.”

He said he had “no regrets” in providing immunity for former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

Asked again about fallout for reporters, he said, “We’re not saying we should not be careful…or that getting reporters to testify should not be the last resort.”

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Related E&P stories:

FLASH: Verdict Reached in Libby Case — Guilty!

White House: Little Comment on Libby Verdict

Juror Explains Libby Verdict: They Felt He Was ‘Fall Guy’

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