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Libby Says He Will Be Cleared of All Charges


Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff says he is confident that he will be cleared of all charges relating to the release of the identity of a CIA agent. Lewis Libby resigned Friday after being indicted for obstructing justice, perjury, and making false statements.

When the judicial process ends, Mr. Libby says, he is confident that he will be completely and totally exonerated of charges that he lied to federal investigators about how and when he learned the identity of a CIA agent.

That agent's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, has been critical of the Bush Administration's justification for invading Iraq.

Ambassador Wilson investigated -- and found no evidence to support -- Administration claims that then-Iraqi-dictator Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium in Africa. When he publicly challenged the president's use of that allegation in his 2003 State of the Union Address, Ambassador Wilson says the Bush Administration tried to discredit him by revealing the identity of his wife, who was then working at CIA headquarters.

Mr. Libby told investigators that he did not know Ambassador Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and first learned of it from reporters.

In bringing the indictments against him, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald says Mr. Libby was not the recipient of that information but its source. "He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter, and that he lied about it afterwards under oath and repeatedly," he said.

Mr. Libby's lawyer says his client testified to the best of his honest recollection on all occasions.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan says White House Counsel Harriet Meirs has barred all Administration staff from having any contact with Mr. Libby about any aspect of the investigation. He says they have been told not to discuss the case or any of the facts surrounding the indictment unless expressly ordered to do so by the Justice Department.

Mr. McClellan says Mr. Libby left the White House shortly after submitting his resignation and is not expected to return now that his gate pass and security clearance have been terminated.

Mr. McClellan says the White House is saddened by the departure of a central figure in administration policy who had served as the vice president's chief of staff since the 2000 election.

Asked if this is the worst week of the Bush presidency following the indictments and the withdrawal of a Supreme Court nominee, Mr. McClellan said this is a White House that has faced many challenges over the last five years and has always risen to those challenges. He says it will continue to do so in support of what he calls the president's optimistic agenda.

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