BREAKING NEWS ~ Judge orders TIME magazine to turn over documents in CIA leak case

[JURIST] AP is reporting that the federal judge in the CIA leak case against former Vice-Presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby [defense profile] has granted part of Libby's request to issue subpoenas to TIME magazine and the New York Times for correspondence and other journalistic materials related to the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity [JURIST news archive].

1:33 PM ET - Judge Reggie B. Walton's memorandum opinion [PDF] is now available online. Concluding a 40-page judgment, he wrote:

The First Amendment does not protect news reporters or news organizations from producing documents when the news reporters are themselves critical to both the indictment and prosecution of criminal activity....

[T]here can [also] be no doubt that the defendant could overcome any common law reporters’ privilege. First, as already stated, the only documents that are at issue are those that are relevant and admissible. Accordingly, those documents, by their very nature, are documents that will make it more or less probable that the defendant committed the charged offenses. Specifically, the documents sought by the defendant here will challenge the credibility and recollection of the news reporters whose conversations with the defendant form the factual predicate for several offenses in the indictment. Thus, these documents are crucial to the defendant’s case and go the heart of his defense. Moreover, the very nature of these documents, i.e., reporters’ notes and their draft articles, could only be obtained from the movants; thus, there are no alternative sources for acquiring these documents.
In the same ruling, Walton narrowed the range of material that can be sought from the New York Times, and said that certain notes and notebooks made by former New York Times correspondent Judith Miller and NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell did not have to disclosed for reasons of relevance. AP now has more.

Libby has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to obstruction of justice and perjury charges [PDF indictment; JURIST report] in connection with the investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the media. Miller's source was later revealed to be Libby, though Libby has not been charged with actually revealing Plame's identity. According to court documents released last month, Libby was authorized by his superiors [JURIST report] to share classified information with reporters in order to combat accusations that the US government had manipulated intelligence leading to the war in Iraq. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said Wednesday that Vice-President Dick Cheney may be a witness [JURIST report] in the government's case.


 

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