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Wilson challenges subpoena in CIA leak case

Former ambassador Joseph Wilson asked a federal judge Wednesday not to compel him to testify in the CIA leak case, and accused former White House aide I. Lewis Libby of trying to harass him on the witness stand. [!]
/ Source: NBC News

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson has filed court papers seeking to have his subpoena to appear as a defense witness in the upcoming trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby quashed.

Wilson, who was sent to Niger by the CIA to investigate allegations that Iraq was seeking to buy yellowcake uranium for a weapons program, wrote in a 2003 op-ed in The New York Times, titled, "What I Didn't Find in Africa," that the Bush administration "twisted" some intelligence about Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

That column, according to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, lies at the center of the sequence of events leading to Libby's alleged criminal conduct.

Libby is charged with lying to investigators and a grand jury about his conversations with journalists regarding Wilson's wife, former CIA operative Valerie Plame.

But in court on Tuesday, William Jeffress, one of Libby's attorneys, said he did not think Wilson would be called as a witness at trial even though a subpoena was sent to Wilson. Also, it was revealed that Libby will call upon Vice President Dick Cheney to testify on his behalf. Cheney, according to Jeffress, has agreed to be a defense witness.

Wilson and Plame have filed a separate civil suit against Libby, his former boss Cheney, and White House advisor and deputy chief of staff Karl Rove accusing them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy Plame's career at the CIA.

They say in their court filings that Cheney, Rove and Libby leaked Plame's CIA status to reporters to punish Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's use of pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

Wilson's attorneys wrote, "Mr. Libby should not be permitted to compel Mr. Wilson's testimony at trial either for the purpose of harassing Mr. Wilson or to gain an advantage in the civil case," according to the court filing.

Libby defense argues memory lapse
Key to Libby's defense is the claim that he simply did not remember "snippets of conversations" with three reporters about how he learned or what he know about Plame.

Libby's defense team has said that the pressure of Libby's White House job "could have easily caused him to confuse or misremember minor details of conversations about the former (ambassador Wilson's) wife and her job at the CIA — topics Libby did not consider significant at the time."

Wilson's attorneys wrote that their client never met Libby and could not offer any information regarding his White House job or the "pressing matters" that Libby alleges occupied his attention during the summer of 2003.

The court filing states, Wilson "does not know whether Mr. Libby has or had a faulty memory, and he does not know whether Mr. Libby was confused or 'misremembered' facts when he spoke with the FBI or testified before the grand jury."

Wilson contends that his testimony would not be relevant or material to the defense and he should not be compelled to testify.

Libby's trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 16.