Judge Releases Cheney Papers in Plame Probe; Allows Some Notes Kept Secret

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A federal judge on Thursday ordered the release of documents that could shed light on former Vice President Dick Cheney's role in the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

But U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan also ruled that portions of the documents, notes from a 2004 FBI interview with Mr. Cheney, must remain secret.

The 67 pages of notes relate to the leak of Mrs. Plame's identity, an event leading to a protracted investigation that resulted in the conviction of Mr. Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis Scooter Libby Jr., on charges of lying to a grand jury.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sought the notes through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that had been opposed by the Justice Department during both the Bush and Obama administrations. The case put the Obama administration in the paradoxical situation of defending Mr. Cheney, who is one of its most persistent critics.

The Justice Department said Thursday it is reviewing Judge Sullivan's decision.

While it remains unknown whether the Justice Department will appeal, it must decide soon. Judge Sullivan ordered that the notes be released by Oct. 9.

In ordering their release, Judge Sullivan rejected the Justice Department's arguments that the notes should be kept secret because revealing them may discourage top White House officials from cooperating with future criminal investigations.

Judge Sullivan has said that adopting the Justice Department's argument would, in effect, require him to create a new law, a job that he said can only be left to Congress.

This court, however, is bound by the law in its current state, which does not sanction such an expansive reading of the statute, the judge wrote in his ruling.

But Judge Sullivan did rule that portions of the notes must remain secret because of privacy, national security and executive privilege exemptions to FOIA laws. …