`Mr. Libby gave the FBI a compelling story'

Prosecutor's statement

White House Indictment

October 29, 2005

The following is an excerpt from special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's opening remarks at a news conference yesterday.

The laws involving disclosure of classified information in some places are very clear, in some places they're not so clear.

And grand jurors and prosecutors making decisions about who should be charged, whether anyone should be charged, what should be charged, need to make fine distinctions about what people knew, why they knew it, what they exactly said, why they said it, what they were trying to do, what appreciation they had for the information and whether it was classified at the time.

Those fine distinctions are important in determining what to do. That's why it's essential when a witness comes forward and gives their account of how they came across classified information and what they did with it that it be accurate.

That brings us to the fall of 2003. When it was clear that Valerie Wilson's cover had been blown, investigation began. And in October 2003, the FBI interviewed Mr. Libby. ...

The focus of the interview was what he had known about Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, what he knew about Ms. Wilson, what he said to people, why he said it, and how he learned it.

And to be frank, Mr. Libby gave the FBI a compelling story.

What he told the FBI is that essentially he was at the end of a long chain of phone calls. He spoke to reporter Tim Russert, and during the conversation Mr. Russert told him that "Hey, do you know that all the reporters know that Mr. Wilson's wife works at the CIA?"

And he told the FBI that he learned that information as if it were new, and it struck him. So he took this information from Mr. Russert, and later on he passed it on to other reporters, including reporter Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, reporter Judith Miller of The New York Times.

And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on on July 12th, 2003, two days before Mr. Novak's column, that he passed it on understanding that this was information he had gotten from a reporter; that he didn't even know if it was true. ...

Later, Mr. Libby went before the grand jury on two occasions in March of 2004. He took an oath and he testified. And he essentially said the same thing.

He said that, in fact, he had learned from the vice president earlier in June 2003 information about Wilson's wife, but he had forgotten it and that when he learned the information from Mr. Russert during this phone call, he learned it as if it were new.

When he passed the information on to reporters Cooper and Miller late in the week he ... was just passing gossip from one reporter to another at the long end of a chain of phone calls.

It would be a compelling story that will lead the FBI to go away if only it were true.

It is not true, according to the indictment.

In fact, Mr. Libby discussed the information about Valerie Wilson at least half a dozen times before this conversation with Mr. Russert ever took place. ..

He didn't learn it from Mr. Russert. ...

The indictment alleges that Mr. Libby learned the information about Valerie Wilson at least three times in June of 2003 from government officials.

Let me make clear there was nothing wrong with government officials discussing Valerie Wilson, or Mr. Wilson or his wife and imparting the information to Mr. Libby.

But in early June, Mr. Libby learned about Valerie Wilson and the role she was believed to play in having sent Mr. Wilson on a trip overseas from a senior CIA officer on or around June 11, from an undersecretary of state on or around June 11, and from the vice president on or about June 12.

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