IMAGE: Richard Armitage
Doug Mills  /  Redux Pictures file
Fomer Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has admitted admitted he was the first to leak the identity of of a CIA agent to reporters, but Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't want a jury to consider that.
By Producer
NBC News
updated 10/30/2006 6:47:44 PM ET 2006-10-30T23:47:44

Without ever mentioning him by name, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, in a court filing Monday, argues that a jury in the CIA/Leak trial should not consider evidence concerning why he did not charge former State Department official Richard Armitage with leaking Valerie Plame's name to reporters. It is a crime to intentionally disclose the name of a classified CIA operative.

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Cheney, is the only one charged in the CIA/Leak case.  Libby is accused of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI about his conversations in 2003 with three reporters regarding how he learned of and what he told them about CIA operative Valerie Plame - but not with leaking the agent's name.

Fitzgerald writes, "The fact that no other person was charged with a crime relating to the disclosure of classified information says absolutely nothing about whether defendant Libby is guilty of the charged crimes."

Armitage's admission
Former Deputy Secretary of State Armitage has acknowledged recently that he was the one who revealed Plame's job at the CIA to syndicated columnist Robert Novak and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, but Armitage said it was inadvertent.

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Novak disputes Armitage's claim that he revealed Plame to him in an offhand remark during their conversation on July 8, 2003. Novak wrote that Armitage “did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests.”

“He made clear that he considered it especially suited for my column,” the writer said.  Novak added, “He told me unequivocally that Ms. Wilson had worked in the C.I.A.'s Counterproliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband's mission.”  Armitage is expected to be a witness in the Libby case.

Early in the inquiry, Armitage told authorities he was Novak's source. Armitage said Fitzgerald asked him to not to say that publicly. Fitzgerald then pressed on with the investigation, questioning White House aides. Among them was top Bush adviser Karl Rove, who appeared five times before a grand jury before being cleared of wrongdoing this summer.

Fitzgerald argues that his decision not to charge Armitage or anyone else with disclosing the name of a CIA operative should not be grounds to acquit Libby, "It is improper for the jury to consider, or for counsel to suggest, that the decisions by the government not to charge additional crimes or defendants are grounds that could support an acquittal on the crimes charged in the indictment," the special counsel writes.

Libby is accused of lying about how he learned of Plame's CIA employment and what he told three reporters about her when her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was accusing the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence to help sell the public on waging war against Iraq.

Libby's trial is scheduled to begin in January 2007.

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