Jury selection completed in trial of former Cheney aide

January 23, 2007|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- A jury was selected yesterday to weigh the fate of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who has been charged with obstructing a federal probe into the disclosure of a CIA operative`s identity.

Culminating four days of questioning by lawyers and a judge that often exposed biases against the Bush administration, 12 jurors and four alternates were chosen for the trial of Libby, 56, a former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton scheduled opening statements for today; the trial is expected to last up to six weeks.

Libby is charged with lying to federal agents and a grand jury about conversations he had with journalists about CIA operative Valerie Plame before her identity surfaced in newspaper reports in July 2003. The journalists, several of whom are expected to testify at the trial, have told investigators that Libby leaked to them key details about Plame, who is married to a critic of the Bush administration.

Libby has denied that he lied or obstructed justice. He is expected to offer a defense that he was immersed in life-or-death matters of state when he spoke with the journalists, which might have led him to inaccurately recall details of those conversations for investigators.

Cheney and other prominent administration officials are expected to testify. The trial is also expected to feature the testimony of three journalists who spoke with Libby, including Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert.

Six potential jurors were dismissed because of anti-Bush sentiments, although the nine women and three men who were seated included at least four who expressed negative views about the administration but said that they could still be fair.

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