Libby Judge Restricts Classified Doc Access & Other News
According to the AP and MSNBC, Judge Walton issued a ruling on Friday that restricted access to some classified documents that Libby was requesting for use in preparation of his defense and potentially for introduction at trial.
The ruling stems from some in limine motions that were filed in camera with the Judge (meaning that Team Libby was not privy to the motions at filing due to the sensitive nature of the documents and classified information involved) — motions were filed both by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and by lawyers for the CIA, requesting that certain documents be withheld from Libby on the grounds that to reveal information contained therein would be potentially harmful to national security. Judge Walton appears to have agreed with the motions, after the 8/16/06 hearing. (See coverage here and here on the motions hearings on the initial various documents requests and the judge’s rulings thereon.)
Judge Reggie Walton, writes in a court filing, that he has "carefully reviewed" the requests to withhold the documents from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, and from the CIA, which were provided to him ex parte, in camera, and found that the documents should be omitted from the classified materials requested by Libby’s attorneys.
Judge Walton writes that the documents he has withheld are, "extremely sensitive and their disclosure could cause serious if not grave damage to the national security of the United States."
It has to be difficult for Scooter Libby to be on the outside looking in at this point, but I have to say that I am pleased that Judge Walton put the national security of the nation at the forefront in his initial CIPA rulings. These sorts of ex parte decisions are difficult from a judicial standpoint, and judges often bend over backwards trying to find some way to allow for some of the information contained in the materials to be given to defense counsel if at all possible and relevent, simply to be fair to the defendent preparing for a criminal trial. Judge Walton ruled that the documents which are to be withheld are simply not relevent to Libby’s defense.
Libby will be given access to a limited number of other classified document summaries and other materials under the judge’s ruling and per agreement between Libby’s trial counsel and Patrick Fitzgerald as previously discussed in prior hearings.
That there is material so sensitive in this case that Libby is not entitled to it at all — and my guess is that a lot of it is the PDB information that Libby brazenly requested — speaks volumes to me in terms of what was endangered by him and Karl Rove opening their yaps in order to exact some political payback and CYA for Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration.
Putting personal political fortune ahead of the security of the entire United States during a time of armed conflict to cover your bosses’ asses for lying the nation into war? Now THAT is unpatriotic.
For some reason — most likely because the cable folks appear to be working on a line near our house at the moment — my access is wonky this morning. So I haven’t been able to pull the opinion itself off PACER for review without causing my system to crash (twice now — arrgh). If anyone has pulled the case and would be willing to send me a copy, I would be much obliged. (Although the way things seem to be going this morning, I may not get it until later today. SIGH Don’t these cable people know not to work on things until later in the afternoon?)
On the Wilson civil suit front, there has been a lot of discussion about the strategy involved with Dick Cheney having been included in the suit, whether actions were private or public, and so on, under the Paula Jones suit precedents. (See here and here for some brief background.) Am slogging through some case law precedents on this — as you can imagine, I haven’t spent my legal career bringing civil suits against high ranking federal officials, so this is newish territory for me, and requires a bit of research for analysis. I promise to try and get everyone something on this at some point this week, as time permits.