Scooter Sound: 19 News Orgs Ask for Release of Audio Tapes in Upcoming Libby Trial

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Nineteen news organizations are asking a federal judge to release audio recordings each day in the upcoming criminal trial of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

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 filings this week in U.S. District Court.

Cheney is expected to testify for his former aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and other witnesses will include NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert.

“Most of the key witnesses are public figures who regularly appear in the media,” the organizations said in documents filed late Thursday with Judge Reggie Walton. “Knowledge that their testimony might be released on audiotapes will not make them feel awkward or uncomfortable, and certainly no more so than testifying in front of a courtroom filled with reporters.”

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

“If there were ever a case where release of audio recordings is unlikely to have any impact on the proceedings – other than the beneficial one of more fully informing the public – it is this one,” lawyers for the news organizations stated.

The organizations 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.

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