Saturday, May 27, 2006

US - Libbygate takes a bad turn

for the prosecution.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Time magazine must give I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby drafts of articles so the former White House aide can use them to defend himself against perjury and other charges in the CIA leak case, a federal judge ruled Friday.

So, why were the news organizations against Libby getting the material?

All of the news organizations had asked Walton to review the materials sought by Libby's lawyers in hopes of convincing him that the information was not relevant and that the defense was on a "fishing expedition."

And they may have hooked some big ones.

Walton said Time magazine must turn over drafts of first-person stories that reporter Matthew Cooper wrote about his conversations with Libby because the judge found inconsistencies between them. [...]

During that review, Walton said, he found "a slight alteration between the several drafts of the articles" Cooper wrote about his conversations with Libby and the reporter's first-person account of his testimony before a federal grand jury.

"This slight alteration between the drafts will permit the defendant to impeach Cooper, regardless of the substance of his trial testimony, because his trial testimony cannot be consistent with both versions," Walton wrote.

Slight alterations between drafts may not be a big deal, but the Judge says the drafts are inconsistent with Cooper's testimony before the grand jury. That is a big deal.

Cooper's not the only one who may have consistency problems.

Walton said The New York Times might have to turn over drafts of articles and other information during Libby's trial if former Times reporter Judith Miller contradicts her previous statements about the case when she testifies as a government witness.

In other words, Walton's putting Miller on notice that he's seen the drafts and she better not commit perjury.

No wonder the prosecution didn't want the defense to get these documents.

And no wonder the AP released this after 6pm on a Friday.

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