Scooter Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, has been indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements for allegedly lying about how and when he learned and disclosed then-classified information about Valerie Plame, the office of special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has just announced.
The indictment against Libby alleges that he learned of Plame's identity from Cheney. It alleges that Libby discussed Plame's identity with Time's Matthew Cooper, NBC's Tim Russert and the New York Times' Judy Miller -- and that revealing Plame's identity had the potential of putting CIA agents at risk and damaging national security.
The 22-page indictment charges that Libby began looking into Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger in May 2003. That's several months before Robert Novak revealed Valerie Plame's identity but around the same time that Nicholas Kristof wrote a column in the New York Times in which he mentioned -- without using Wilson's name -- Wilson's criticism of the Bush administration's use of pre-war intelligence. The indictment charges Libby with lying to investigators about what he told reporters -- and lying to reporters about what, and how, he knew about Plame.
Although the indictment does not appear to charge Libby with a crime in connection for the leak itself, Fitzgerald has issued a statement that seems to take issue with the early Republican spin -- articulated over the weekend by Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison -- that charges related to the cover-up rather than to an underlying crime would be "perjury technicalities." Fitzgerald said: "Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nation or its citizens."