New York Times
May 14, 2006
WASHINGTON, May 13 Vice President Dick Cheney made handwritten notations on a July 2003 newspaper column that indicate he was focused on a critic of the administration's Iraq policy, according to a court filing in the C.I.A. leak case.
Mr. Cheney's notes were cited in a prosecution brief in the case against the vice president's former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr. The entries were made on a copy of an Op-Ed article by Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, that was published in The New York Times on July 6, 2003. The leak case involves the disclosure that Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie, was a C.I.A. officer.
"Those annotations support the proposition that publication of the Wilson Op-Ed acutely focused the attention of the vice president and the defendant his chief of staff on Mr. Wilson, on the assertions made in his article, and on responding to those assertions," said the legal papers filed Friday by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case.
In neat writing above the text of the column, prosecutors say, Mr. Cheney wrote: "Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an Amb. to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?"
The legal papers do not address how prosecutors know it is Mr. Cheney's handwriting or when the notes were written. A spokesman for the vice president could not be reached for comment Saturday night.
Mr. Fitzgerald wants to use the notations to support the prosecution's contention that Mr. Libby lied to investigators and a grand jury when he testified that he had learned of Ms. Wilson's existence from reporters. Prosecutors have said that Mr. Libby, who has been charged with perjury, learned about Ms. Wilson's role from several people, including Mr. Cheney.
In the column, Mr. Wilson wrote of his doubts about administration statements that Iraq had tried to acquire nuclear fuel from Africa. Mr. Wilson wrote that his skepticism was based on a trip he took to Niger in early 2002 to examine intelligence reports that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium ore.
Mr. Cheney's notations confirm that he was aware of who Ms. Wilson was, if not her name, before her name was first publicly disclosed in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert D. Novak.
The prosecution brief said, "The annotated version of the article reflects the contemporaneous reaction of the vice president to Mr. Wilson's Op-Ed article, and thus is relevant to establishing some of the facts that were viewed as important by the defendant's immediate superior, including whether Mr. Wilson's wife had 'sen[t] him on a junket.' "
The notes, included in a brief filed late Friday and first reported on Saturday by Newsweek magazine on its Web site, add new detail to what is already known about Mr. Cheney's interest in rebutting the assertions in Mr. Wilson's column.
In addition, the notes add to evidence in the case showing that Mr. Cheney and his aides viewed Mr. Wilson's article with deep concern and looked for ways to counter its impact. Previous prosecution filings have said the article was viewed as a direct assault on the administration's policy and provoked efforts to discredit Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Libby has also been charged with obstruction of justice and has pleaded not guilty. He is scheduled to be tried early next year.