Don't hold your breath in anticipation of a trial to begin any time soon in the CIA leak case of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. In court today, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton scheduled jury selection to begin January 8, 2007. Walton said he had hoped to start the trial in September 2006 but one of Libby's lawyers, Ted Wells, had a scheduling conflict -- another trial -- that made an earlier date impractical. Walton said he "hates to have a case linger so long," but had no choice.
Expect to see Libby back in court on February 24, 2006 for another status hearing. Today, he seemed relaxed and made small talk with reporters while stopping for coffee in the courthouse cafeteria. He asked a reporter what he was listening to on his iPod, then he headed to a conference room on the second floor to wait for the open hearing to begin.
The legal tango between Libby lead attorney Ted Wells and Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald began with Fitzgerald saying that "99%" of discovery documents were delivered to Libby. Some 250 pages of material were sent yesterday and Fitzgerald promised another 800 pages today. But Wells contended "we believe that thousands and thousands of pages" of discovery documents are still in the possession of the special counsel's office and have not been handed over.
The only time Libby spoke during the 30-minute proceeding was when asked if he agreed to waive his right to a speedy trial. "Yes, sir," was Libby's answer.
The media scrum at the courthouse was at high intensity -- a freelance cameraman for CBS News went down, chasing Pat Fitzgerald as he left the courthouse. Camera suffered some scrapes and the cameraman was visibly shaken after tripping over a flowerpot. The Libby departure was less painful, though a still photographer running backwards knocked over some equipment boxes belonging to CNN. A vigilant technician caught him before he took down the entire CNN liveshot location. All in a days work covering Scooter, et. al.
For those who need a refresher: Former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, Libby was indicted in October 2005 on charges that he lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters. Plame's identity was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium "yellowcake" in Niger.