ABC: Plame/Libby Trial to Remind Americans of 'Dirty Politics'

On ABC's World News Saturday, correspondent Laura Marquez filed a story on the upcoming trial of Lewis Libby regarding his role in leaking CIA analyst Valerie Plame's identity. Marquez relayed the theory that Bush administration members deliberately leaked her identity "to get back at" her husband, Iraq War critic Joe Wilson, without mentioning the revelation that Richard Armitage, formerly an assistant to Colin Powell and a dove in the run-up to the Iraq War, admitted to having inadvertently been the original leaker. Instead of mentioning this aspect of the story which undermines the theory of a deliberate conspiracy, Marquez suggested "dirty politics" was behind the leak as she pointed out the trial's bad timing with the President's upcoming State of the Union speech. Marquez: "It will remind the American public just how dirty politics can get." (Transcript follows)

Marquez summarized the Libby story referring to the theory that the leak was an intentional retaliation against Wilson. Marquez: "At the heart of the mystery, leaking to the media the name of undercover CIA spy Valerie Plame. The apparent motive, to get back at her husband, Joe Wilson, for challenging the President's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The man in the middle, Scooter Libby, charged with lying to a grand jury about how and when he learned Plame's true identity."

Marquez relayed Wilson's criticism of President Bush for citing evidence that Saddam Hussein had tried to acquire uranium from Africa without pointing out that some, including former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, have argued that Wilson's own investigation had bolstered that claim rather than undermine it.

After airing a soundbite of liberal law professor Jonathan Turley asserting that the trial would "remind people how the war was sold to them and how the original justifications proved to be false," Marquez concluded: "And it will remind the American public just how dirty politics can get."

Below is a complete transcript of the story from the January 20 World News Saturday:

John Berman: "In Washington this week, the beginning of a trial that reaches the highest levels of power. Former White House aide Lewis 'Scooter' Libby is being tried on five felony counts stemming from the investigation into who outed an undercover CIA agent. While the case involves weighty issues of national security and could send a man to prison, for many in Washington it has all the makings of a good thriller. Here's ABC's Laura Marquez."

Laura Marquez: "The Libby trial is quickly becoming Washington's favorite parlor game, with a juicy plot and a who's who of characters."

Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Law Professor: "This is the World Series. This is the closest this city comes to a real organized sport. And everyone's going to be watching, you know. These are the Untouchables."

Marquez: "At the top of the witness list, Vice President Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby's former boss. Also, NBC's Tim Russert and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward. The plot reads like a whodunnit novel, with the Bush administration at its center. At the heart of the mystery, leaking to the media the name of undercover CIA spy Valerie Plame. The apparent motive, to get back at her husband, Joe Wilson, for challenging the President's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The man in the middle, Scooter Libby, charged with lying to a grand jury about how and when he learned Plame's true identity."

Harry Jaffe, Washingtonian Magazine: "This is not necessarily about obstruction of justice. It is about power politics in the media and how we play that game in Washington, D.C."

Marquez: "Harry Jaffe, a national editor for Washingtonian Magazine, says the trial gives people outside the Beltway a front-row seat to how the game is played."

Jaffe: "I don't think anybody knows how to play nice. I think this is the way we play, and negative character assassination is what we do."

Marquez: "In what can only be called bad timing, opening statements in the Libby trial begin Tuesday, the same day as the President's State of the Union Address. It was the President's 16 words he gave at a State of the Union Address four years ago which Plame's husband originally criticized."

George W. Bush, dated January 28, 2003: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Turley: "This case is going to remind people how the war was sold to them and how the original justifications proved to be false."

Marquez: "And it will remind the American public just how dirty politics can get. Laura Marquez, ABC News, Washington."