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Defense Lawyer: Libby Used as White House Scapegoat

The lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff says his client is being used as a scapegoat in the investigation of who leaked the identity of a CIA operative.

Defense lawyer Theodore Wells says his client, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, is being unfairly blamed by the White House for the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Libby is charged with five felony counts of lying to a grand jury and to police during the investigation.

He went on trial Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Prosecutors opened their investigation after a newspaper columnist revealed Plame's identity in 2003. It is a federal crime to reveal the name of a CIA agent.

Attorney Wells says the White House tried to blame Libby for the leak, to protect President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove. Rove was investigated but not charged in the case.

Libby has told investigators he learned of Plame's identity from a reporter. But the prosecution says Libby knew about Plame from other government officials.

Plame's husband is former ambassador Joseph Wilson. He had criticized the Bush administration's use of intelligence before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The leak happened soon after Wilson wrote an open editorial in the New York Times expressing his views.

Vice President Cheney is expected to testify during the trial. It is expected to last about six weeks.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.