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CNN NEWSROOM

Suspicious Item Investigated at LAX; Military Medical System Probe; Iraq Security Crackdown

Aired March 6, 2007 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM and you are informed.
I'm T.J. Harris -- T.J. Harris -- that's Tony.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Who are you?

HOLMES: Who am I?

I'm T.J. Holmes. There's another guy named Tony Harris that's usually here. We just morphed into the same guy.

COLLINS: Your face is so red.

That was good.

Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments do keep coming in to the NEWSROOM on this Tuesday, March 7th (sic). We have the date right, that's good.

Here's what's on the rundown now.

New this morning, President Bush announces the leaders of his Walter Reed Commission. Bob Dole, Donna Shalala will examine conditions at the nation's premier hospital for war wounded.

HOLMES: Also panic in Indonesia, rattled against by a strong earthquake. Dozens dead or injured on the island of Sumatra.

COLLINS: No rules, free advertising -- a presidential candidate's media fantasy land. The YouTube campaign coming up in the NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: We do want to head to our Betty Nguyen, who's keeping an eye on a situation happening at LAX. Betty in the newsroom for us.

Hey there.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, T.J. Harris -- no, I'm just kidding.

We do have a serious story that I do want to tell you about. This is, as you mentioned, at LAX, a suspicious package that has been found. And what we do know is that airport police say that they have detained a person at terminal one -- now, this is a domestic terminal -- because this person had a "suspicious" item on him.

Now, police would not elaborate as to whether this person was going through security at the time or what prompted police to determine that this person was being suspicious and what about the item is so suspicious. So there are still a lot of questions, but as we look at new video coming in from LAX, you can see security is out and about on the ground, just to take some precautions as we learn more about the exact nature of this person and the suspicious item that he was carrying there at LAX.

Again, this person was detained at terminal one, which is a domestic terminal, not an international terminal. But he was detained because he had a "suspicious item" on him. So, as soon as we get more information on that, T.J., we'll bring it straight to you.

HOLMES: You bet. And I'm going to get more information about who exactly I am.

Thank you for keeping an eye on that for us.

NGUYEN: Sure.

COLLINS: And the date.

A new development also we should tell you about at the scandal at Walter Reed Medical Center. President Bush appoints two Washington veterans to lead a probe of the military's medical system. That announcement just a few minutes ago.

CNN's Kathleen Koch is at the White House now with the very latest on all of this.

A lot of work to be done here, Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Quite a lot, Heidi. And the president had promised this bipartisan commission in his Saturday radio address, said he would announce the heads of it very soon, and he did today.

Again, as you said, former Senate majority leader Republican Bob Dole and former Health and Human Services secretary Donna Shalala will be heading up this nine-member commission that will deliver its recommendation to the president by June 30th. And what they will be doing is looking at veterans hospitals across the board, all around the United States, military hospitals, to see if this problem is pervasive, if it exists in other places.

The president this morning in his speech to the American Legion said, "It is unacceptable to me, it's unacceptable to you, it's unacceptable to our country," this kind of treatment for -- of outpatients that he has seen that have been disclosed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. And he said it's not going to continue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am as concerned as you are about the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. My decisions have put our kids in harm's way. And I'm concerned about the fact that when they come back, they don't get the full treatment they deserve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: Now, the president is expecting to name the other members, the other members of the nine-member commission, possibly by the end of the week, we're told. And also, an interagency task force was announced by the president today that will immediately get down to the work of correcting the problem at Walter Reed and at other hospitals right away to make sure that these veterans get the help they need -- Heidi.

COLLINS: And some other things happening in this speech as well, Kathleen. The president took some pretty good potshots at members of Congress who are opposed to his increase of troop levels, and specifically on the funding of backing those troops.

KOCH: Certainly, because Democrats in Congress and a number of Republicans are looking at various ways that they can blunt this troop increase, possibly set certain conditions that would have to be met before the president could go forward with funding. And the president, in a very forceful way before what is supposed to be a neutral sort of bipartisan audience, the American Legion, the largest service organization of veterans in the country, got very angry and really told Congress they can't have it both ways.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Other members of Congress seem to believe that we can have it all. That we can fight al Qaeda, pursue national reconciliation, initiate aggressive diplomacy, and deter Iran's ambitions in Iraq, all while withdrawing from Baghdad and reducing our force levels. That sounds good in theory, but doing so at this moment would undermine everything our troops have worked for. There is no shortcuts in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: The president said the United States would not abandon Iraq in its time of need, and he pointed out that in the administration's opinion, the troop increase is beginning to work, that the U.S. just -- the U.S. Congress in particular just needs to give it a chance.

Back to you, Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Kathleen Koch out in front of the White House today.

Thanks, Kathleen.

KOCH: You bet.

HOLMES: Of course for the past several days we've been keeping on eye on the situation with the players involved in that fatal bus tragedy here in Atlanta, where six died, four of them baseball players from the Bluffton University baseball team. That baseball team from a small college in Ohio was making their way through Atlanta when that crash happened. The bus went over an overpass.

It appears the driver kind of had an HOV lane mixed up, thought he was on the HOV lane. Actually, on exit ramp and went right off that overpass.

Well, we've been getting updates, of course, about the condition of some of the players. Some of them still in the hospital, the coach still in the hospital as well.

We saw a press conference just a short time ago from the Bluffton University president, who was actually -- had made his way down to Atlanta, made a trip, checked in with some of the players, the coach as well. But he was updating reporters in Bluffton just a short time ago, and here's a bit of the update he had for us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES HARDER, PRESIDENT, BLUFFTON UNIVERSITY: I know that as of this morning, two individuals are still in critical condition. I believe that four of the six are still in intensive care. Two are in regular hospital rooms. I believe that one of the individuals in intensive care is expecting to be moved to a regular hospital room today.

QUESTION: Have you been in contact with any of the students who were on supposed to go on spring break (INAUDIBLE)?

HARDER: I know that...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, again, you're hearing some of the update there. That was James Harder, the president of Bluffton University, giving a bit of an update on some of the players and some of the personnel still hospitalized. At least six still hospitalized. Two in critical condition still after that horrific bus crash here in Atlanta.

But certainly a story we're going to stay on top of and continue to bring you updates as we get them.

COLLINS: Want to check out the Big Board now.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: A scene of carnage unfolding in Iraq this hour, and the death toll is on the rise. Police say two suicide bombers detonated themselves among a crowd of Shiite pilgrims today in central Hilla. We're told 93 people were killed, nearly 150 wounded. It's one of many deadly attacks on pilgrims who were on their way to the holy city of Karbala for a weekend religious holiday. And then this -- American troops targeted in deadly attacks. Nine soldiers reported killed in two separate bombings north of Baghdad. The military says six of those troops were killed in a blast during a combat operation.

Meanwhile, in the other incident, in Diyala province, three more soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb. Both incidents happened yesterday.

COLLINS: Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood dangerous and deadly. But now a sense of calm after U.S. and Iraqi troops crack down.

CNN's Jennifer Eccleston reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): U.S. and Iraqi forces police and army, conduct door-to-door operations, a major sweep in the Shia bastion. It is the first large-scale American presence in Sadr City in more than two years, a move to secure this eastern Baghdad neighborhood, a stronghold of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi army.

(on camera): These Sadr City streets used to be protected and policed by the Mehdi army, but now its patrols like these, Iraqi and American, who hope to take its place.

(voice over): Al-Sadr and Mehdi commanders are thought to have fled the area. Their foot soldiers keeping a low profile, avoiding a confrontation with U.S. troops for now.

LT. COL. AVANULUS SMILEY, U.S. ARMY: There's militia groups that are here, and people say, well, maybe they're just laying low. Of course they are. And I think that's a good thing. And that enables us to stabilize the area.

ECCLESTON: The seeming new calm, the Americans say, is mostly due to this man, the operations Iraqi commander, General Ali Ibrahim Dabboun. "We will arrest any terrorism group, anyone that supports terrorism. There will be no exceptions," says General Dabboun.

As the Americans set about creating a stable presence in Sadr City, alongside the Iraqi police and army, they say they must share that optimism. Even in Sadr City, hope springs eternal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: And Jennifer Eccleston joining us now live from Baghdad.

You know, Jennifer, last hour, we had the opportunity to speak with a guest who is formerly a doctor in the area and now a journalist. His brothers and father, however, are still living in the Sadr City area. I want to you go ahead and listen to this and tell me your thoughts on the back side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI FADHIL, IRAQI JOURNALIST: There are less militias right now. That's what they're saying.

Since the plan came out, American Humvees and the Iraqi army, they're cruising the streets and shouting for the militias to appear. And, you know, simply the militias are hiding right now. That's why the situation is a little bit improved.

But if you go to west Baghdad, a friend of mine, also a doctor in western Baghdad, he's living actually in a neighborhood in west Baghdad near Amiriyah. It's a Sunni neighborhood, and he's living in hell.

He can't go out, he's just, you know, staying inside his house. He's not leaving his job -- he left his job actually. His family left to a safer neighborhood. But again, it's not a life for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: So, Jennifer, two things here I want to ask you about, this notion of possibly the insurgents just being in hiding and that's why the situation is a little bit better. We've also heard about this incredible patience that they might have, and they would stay underground and in hiding for a very, very long time, only just to come up later.

ECCLESTON: Yes, I think the Americans who now are patrolling that area, and, indeed, the Iraqis, would say -- and did say in that piece -- that the Mehdi army, the militiamen going underground, is one of the worst kept secrets in Baghdad. It's nothing short of a fact in their minds.

They wouldn't just suddenly disappear and not present themselves as they were right now if this weren't a concerted effort to go underground. And I also don't think that the Americans and the Iraqis would have any problem admitting that that is the reason why they have met very little resistance, if any resistance, in going and doing these clearing operations. But what is significant here is were how they feel about that.

They say, that's OK, this gives us an opportunity to gain the trust, to get the trust of the local community. If the local community is happy with the situation right now, that it's relatively calm, and they think that's a result of the surge, they think that's a result of these incursions into Sadr City, that's fine with the Americans, because it may give them headway into a community whereby when the militia does come back -- and by all accounts, they think it will -- they may even reject them and say we're not -- we're not looking for violence anymore, we want the stability, and who's going to give it to us? COLLINS: Yes, sure, if the residents can see that things can calm down and life can be as close to normal as possible. I would imagine that.

What about the troop morale, though, at this point, the mood of the troops in this particular area?

ECCLESTON: I think it's been buoyed in a way as a result of the surge, as a result of the increased presence of Iraqi and American troops on the streets of the capital. It has been relatively quiet.

Of course we have events today like down south in Hilla and also several explosions here against pilgrims in Baghdad in yesterday's market bombing. But the tempo has not been as fast as it has been in the past, and I think many people will say that's because of the increased troop presence. And that makes the Americans here feel like they're actually seeing the fruits of their labor, that what they're doing is actually being shown in a positive way and actually is positive.

And it just makes them feel like they're actually making a difference for the good, and perhaps we, the media, will be able to present that to the people back home. And they can see that perhaps, you know, don't lose faith just yet, we're making headway here. And that's really the message I received yesterday talking to the troops, give us a chance, we may just succeed here -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Jennifer Eccleston, coming to us live from Baghdad today.

Jennifer, thank you.

HOLMES: A dangerous blood clot in the vice president's left leg. Ahead, his treatment. And are you potentially at risk for the same ailment? You'll find out right here the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: From "gotcha" to getting votes. How YouTube is change the world of politics. Details ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

COLLINS: Vice President Dick Cheney back at work one day after a potentially life-threatening blood clot was discovered in his left leg. He will be on blood thinners for several months now. He has what is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT.

A little bit earlier, I talked with Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the condition

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a fairly common condition. A lot of people don't realize this. You hear about DVT quite a bit in the news when somebody has one. Vice President Gore, incidentally, had one as well when he was campaigning for president in 2000. In Cheney's case, he suffered from leg pain, it sounded like, some cramping in his leg. That's one of the hallmark symptoms of it.

You can also have some discoloration of your skin, redness of your skin as well. Oftentimes, that's all it is. You just get this spot in your leg that's sort of blocking the blood from traveling back from your leg to the rest of your body. And that can cause some problems.

But a lot of times it is can turn into something more serious, as you see here. You actually get the clot there, and it can actually break off. It actually dislodges, travels through the entire vascular system, as you can see there, and then finally gets up, lands in your heart. That's...

COLLINS: Pulmonary embolism.

GUPTA: That's a pulmonary embolism.

COLLINS: I had one of those too.

GUPTA: You had one of those, too.

COLLINS: Yippee.

GUPTA: You can talk about this as well as anybody, but a lot of people, you know, are curious about what the symptoms are. But those are some of the symptoms.

COLLINS: Well, and you mentioned -- you mentioned those and the possible spot, you know, on your leg. And warm to the touch.

What's scary about it is, is I had none of that. All I had was a little cramp and I thought maybe I pulled a muscle or something. And then it got so much more serious. I mean, when you talk about the pulmonary embolism, you're talking about if it goes to your brain, or your heart, or your lungs. I mean, you can die.

GUPTA: Yes, you can. And some people will have a little defect in their heart that will allow actually allow the clot to get into their heart and then, as you say, go to the brain, causing a stroke, potentially cause a heart attack as well. But any of those things.

A pulmonary embolism, it's amazing how many people don't realize how serious it can be. They say anywhere between 100,000 to 200,000 a year die from pulmonary embolism. Most of those related to the Deep Vein Thrombosis.

COLLINS: Yes. Unbelievable, too. I mean, we all remember David Bloom, the NBC reporter over in Iraq who died of a DVT. This month, in fact, is DVT Awareness Month. I mean, who knew?

GUPTA: Yes. COLLINS: And with this happening with the vice president.

GUPTA: Yes, and in large part because of his wife, Melanie Bloom, who is the spokesperson for the National Coalition for DVT Prevention.

Yes, I was actually there in Iraq when, you know, David died. And I remember they said that he was dehydrated, he had been in a cramped tank for hours. But we also came to find out that in David's case in particular he had a coagulation disorder, something that actually made him more likely to clot.

And that is one of the risk factors, is this coagulation disorder. Again, as we talk about also, low blood flow due to surgery or an injury or just being immobilized. For instance, if you break a leg or something like that. Being older is a risk factor. And certainly being overweight as well.

COLLINS: Smoking, pregnancy, birth control also?

GUPTA: Also risk factors, absolutely. And women, specifically with the birth control and the smoking in combination, really need to be aware of that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Also, to let you know as we look at that video there of David Bloom, we -- as a guest of our show this week, we will have Melanie Bloom.

Once again, reminding everybody it is Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month this month of March.

Also, to get your "Daily Dose" of health news online, log on to our Web site. You'll find the latest medical news, a health library, and information on diet and fitness. The address, cnn.com/health.

HOLMES: Wounded in war and now going to battle over the medical care they call unforgivable and not fit for anyone. Wounded military vets are citing conditions like this, worrisome mold covering the walls of a hospital dormitory. Seriously ill patients sharing a room with mice and rats. Today the military's decision makers are testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee and they're facing outraged lawmakers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Is Walter Reed just the tip of the iceberg? How many more -- how many other building 18s are in the Army? And in the Navy? And in the Marine Corps and in the Air Force? What improvement projects at Walter Reed had a higher priority than basic life and safety improvements for wounded soldiers? What complaints were received by the army and DoD inspectors general relative to conditions at Walter Reed and what actions were taken? How did Barack impact the decision leaders in the army and ought Walter Reed made with regard to outpatient facilities? We also have responsibility to ensure that there's a future for our wounded that is better than the past. If legislation is necessary we will pursue it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: And a short time ago, President Bush appointed two Washington veterans to lead a probe of the military's medical system. T(r)MD+BO¯(r)MDNM¯he former Senator Bob Dole and former Clinton White House insider Donna Shalala will co-chair the bipartisan commission.

COLLINS: U.S. attorneys fired. Were they singled out for political reasons? We'll talk about that coming up in the NEWSROOM.

Also distress call, the Coast Guard responds to boaters adrift for more than 24 hours. That's ahead right here in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: I want to get this out to you as quickly as we can. Apparently there has been a verdict reached in the Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial. This is the tenth day of deliberations now. It's interesting, too, because originally it didn't really seem like there was going to be a verdict anytime soon. You may remember some of the notes that have been passed back and forth from the jury to the judge, different questions that have been asked and so forth. But now, apparently that judge has -- the jury, I should say, has come to a verdict. That verdict probably going to be read, we are hearing, around noon or so. Just some of these things that the jury was questioning which were open to the public today is the prosecution alleging that Mr. Libby did not make the statements that we have made so public here anyway about "Time" magazine writer Matthew Cooper, all kinds of different complications in this.

Probably the best thing to do is take you back to our correspondent Brian Todd, background piece here to remind you of all the different specifics of the case.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): :Prosecutors presented nine witness, current and former senior government and CIA officials and three prominent journalists, all directly contradicting Lewis Scooter Libby's account of his conversations about CIA officer Valerie Plame. She is married to Joseph Wilson, a harsh critic of the Bush administration's handling of the intelligence regarding Iraq. In July 2003, he wrote a critical op-ed piece.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The evidence showed how essentially panic stricken the White House was over this editorial by Joseph Wilson and how they were trying to discredit his testimony.

TODD: Special council Patrick Fitzgerald took the unusual step of playing audio tapes of Libby's entire grand jury testimony for the jury. including one exchange where he recounts what NBC's Tim Russert supposedly asked him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWIS "SCOOTER" LIBBY: Did you know that his wife works at the CIA?

PATRICK FITZGERALD, SPECIAL COUNSEL: and you said?

LIBBY: No, I don't know that.

FITZGERALD: And his response?

LIBBY: Yeah, all -- something like yes, yeah, all the reporters know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Russert testified he couldn't have said that, because he didn't know who that person was until several days later. Libby is not charged with leaking Plame's name to reporters, but lying to the grand jury about his conversations regarding her. The defense calls the case circumstantial and tried to poke holes in the credibility of prosecution witnesses like former "New York Times" reporter Judith Miller.

Defense lawyers also tried to make the point of how much was on Libby's plate. He was the vice president's chief of staff, as well as his national security adviser. Their contention, if Libby forgot details of the conversations in question, chalk it up to his critical national security workload and a bad memory. Libby's lawyer surprised many by not having him take the stand in his own defense and not calling Vice President Dick Cheney to testify, as was widely expected. Both men would have probably faced blistering cross-examination by prosecutors.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: I want to go directly now live to Brian Todd, who is standing outside of the courtroom to give us the very latest.

A flurry of activity, I assume there, Brian.

TODD: There is. Reporters are scrambling out here. We're all getting ready, the jury has reached a verdict in this case, we're told, Heidi, and we're getting indications that the verdict will be read at about noon Eastern Time, possibly A little bit before that. And we originally were told that we would get a 15-minute warning, so clearly that would mean that there's a possibilities this verdict could be read before noon, but just got word that we can expect it at about noon.

COLLINS: All right, Brian, I want to go ahead and find out if there is any sort of reaction from the White House. We are hearing from our Suzanne Malveaux, who I believe -- is she on the line? There will not be any reaction from the White House. Our Suzanne Malveaux reporting that for us. But, Brian, back to you. Once this verdict is read, what will happen next in that courtroom?

TODD: Well, the attorneys for both sides have indicated that they would come out and speak to the media. There's a stakeout position just to my right a few feet in which everybody is ready for them to make a statement. Now, what will happen after that, it really depends on verdict. If Mr. Libby is acquitted, he'll essentially be free to go. If he's convicted, he'll probably have to be processed and put in some place for holding, at least temporarily. So it really is going to depend on the verdict. We should hear shortly. Everybody is gathering either in the courtroom, or near where I'm sitting.

We should probably go over the counts very quickly while we're here. Count one is obstruction of justice. That is the most serious charge that Mr. Libby is facing. That carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Count two is making false statements to the FBI. These -- excuse me -- carry a penalty of five years in prison. The rest of these counts that I'm going to read to you -- count three is also a count of making false statements to the FBI. Count four is perjury. Count five is perjury. All these counts, except for the obstruction count, carry five years in prison. Obstruction carries 10. So there is a maximum penalty that he faces, if convicted, of 30 years in prison.

But the wisdom among former prosecutors we've talked to is that even if he is convicted on all five of these counts that his likely sentence will be much, much shorter, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes and you know, there has been so much that's gone on as of late, Brian, in this case. All of these questions coming into the judge from the jury ended up having to dismiss one of them, jury down to 11 members now. Seven women, four men. And interesting also that Libby actually never really testified of course in this case. So the jury is having to depend on those audio tapes and all of the different conversations back in 2004 and a lot of memory in this case.

TODD: That is right. And there's very little tangible evidence in this case. Most of it is circumstantial evidence, they have to weigh his credibility against the credibility of prosecution witnesses. They did have to look back as you mentioned, on his brand jury testimony which was about eight hours long. He never testified in this case, his former boss Dick Cheney never testified in this case as was expected.

So those events in and of themselves were slightly dramatic in what did not happen in this case. So yes, there's a lot for the jury to consider. They had a lot of questions that seemingly made this a little bit more confusing.

Just today, they had three separate questions about count three of the indictment which is making false statements to the FBI and that one count had to do with Libby's conversation with "Time" magazine's Matt Cooper in 2003 in which Libby claims that he told Cooper that reporters were telling the White House, Mr. Cheney and his team that the CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson was the wife of the administration critic Joe Wilson but that he, Libby, did not know that was true. That was Libby's claim.

The prosecutors are alleging that he falsely told investigators that that was how that conversation went. The jurors were really hung up on that particular count. They were, they grappled with that, they asked three separate questions today about that. They did get an answer. Whatever that answer was, Heidi, might have satisfied them on how to come down on that count.

It seems now, that that was the one count that was kind of holding them up in this verdict.

COLLINS: Yes, exactly. Good point, Brian. And as we talk about that further here, and we wait for this verdict to come down. It looks like it's going to be about 20 minutes from now or so. We do have our senior legal analysts. Jeffrey Toobin is standing by.

Jeff, let's talk more about what Brian has brought up here. This third count, and I have it in front of me these questions they were asking the judge. Bear with me as I read them. It says that -- they were assessing these statements that Libby made and their questions actually may actually suggest that they disagree on which of the two interviews may actually have contained the false statements. So maybe you can make sense of this for us today -- Jeff.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, these were really detailed questions. You know, this is an unusually well educated jury and it seemed to me reading some of their questions that they may have been overthinking the case and their instructions a little bit.

The questions involved, as a general matter, whether the government had to prove that -- whether he was -- Libby lied in his conversation with Matt Cooper or whether he lied in his testimony about his conversation with Matt Cooper and the answer clearly is the latter. It's not a crime to lie to a journalist, it's a crime to lie to investigators about your conversation with the journalist. I mean that's obviously pretty apparent. But that is something the jury was having a little trouble with.

But that count, count three, the obstruction of justice count, is, was very much the focus of several questions and in fact is actually a less serious count, I mean they're all felonies, but perjury carries -- the other four counts which are perjury, carry potentially greater penalties than obstruction of justice does.

COLLINS: Yes, and then the last one here that they have, at least the ones that I am looking at here for these three questions that they were asking the judge about, in determining this count three that we're discussing. Are we allowed to consider Mr. Libby's grand jury testimony?

TOOBIN: Again actually a very clever, interesting question on the part of the jurors because they are saying, you know, can we say -- if he said something to the grand jury, can we infer from that that he said something similar to the FBI agents? Because the count relating to Matt Cooper relates only to Libby's statements to FBI agents. It wasn't sworn testimony in the grand jury. And the judge ...

COLLINS: So what's the judge likely to say in answer to that question?

TOOBIN: Well, we know exactly what he said because he gave -- he read a response and he said, look, you can consider all the evidence. We're not going to tell you what you can consider for what, the grand jury testimony was evidence in the trial so you can consider it for anything you like. In effect, he was saying yes, you can consider the grand jury testimony for the testimony -- for the relevance in the obstruction of justice count. To simplify matters, basically the answers I think were favorable to the prosecution. Those answers suggested that the jury could consider anything they wanted, they were not trying to slice the baloney all that thin and I think those answers were generally favorable for the prosecution and they, I would imagine, feel fairly optimistic that the jury came back so quickly after the -- after those answers came in.

COLLINS: Yes, it is interesting, though too, Jeff, how long this has taken obviously. We see this happen a lot, but now the defense is contending that Libby, who also served as national security advisor to Cheney, had an overwhelming work load that could have possibly caused discrepancies in what he told investigators. So as we move forward here and as we wait for this verdict coming up around noontime we will continue to cover this story of course, take you through the noon hour as it develops. Jeffrey Toobin, thanks so much, stick around, OK.

HOLMES: Oh yes, we're going to be tapping him into his knowledge plenty, Jeffrey Toobin there. But for you folks maybe just joining us and trying to remember this case, certainly a complicated case. So let's break this down for you what we're seeing today. That man you're seeing right there, Lewis Scooter Libby is the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was forced to resign after he was charged with those counts you're seeing up there, five counts for allegedly lying to prosecutors about the -- who leaked the name of a CIA operative who was a Bush administration critic.

We do have a verdict in that case. The jury has been deliberating the past nine or 10 days now. We have a verdict in that case, expecting to hear that around noontime around the top of the hour. We will continue to follow this story. So that case, that again is a bit complicated, but essentially breaks down to him facing charges of lying to prosecutors about who leaked the name of a CIA operative, that operative was a critic of the Bush administration. We are all over this story.

Our Brian Todd outside of the courthouse in D.C., and also our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin standing by to help us make sense of it all. Stay with us, we are expecting a verdict somewhere around the top of the hour, continuing coverage through this hour and also starting at noon as well. Stick around, we're going to get a quick break in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Breaking news now here to report. We have learned that a verdict has been reached in the Lewis Scooter Libby trial. You see the counts on the screen in front of you there. One count, obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, two counts of false statement of facts. Maximum penalty here, 30 years, not many people thinking he would serve that much time if found guilty. But of course we will be watching this and bring it to you as it happens.

Right now, want to go back outside the courthouse where we have our Brian Todd standing by to remind us of all of the events of this case that towards the end anyway, 10 days of deliberation, Brian, did seem to get kind of interesting.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They really did, Heidi. The jury had several questions. They had four questions just on one count. That's count three of making false statements to the FBI.

Almost a little over nine days of deliberations total in this case. It took a little longer than a lot of us thought they would, but this is a very thorough jury, very studious jury. And as you pointed out earlier, this was a jury of only 11 people after one of them had been dismissed. They were very serious throughout. They came back with some very good questions. They needed guidance from the judge, he gave it to them.

There were a couple of times when the judge didn't quite understand where they were coming from as far as how they were phrasing a couple of their questions. He got clarification, sent them back notes, sent them back guidance on this.

And they have been very methodical throughout. They apparently set up some kind of chart or timeline in their jury deliberation room because they had asked for flip charts, they had asked for post-it notes, tape. They were constructing this as best they could visually it seems and we'll know in about 10 minutes or so what they've come up with.

But it has been a very dramatic process throughout not only the trial itself with some of the statements of the witnesses and the back and forth, the credibility questions of the witnesses and Mr. Libby himself, but the jury also questions about the jury, questions about who they were and then we had a dramatic moment a little over a week ago when the one juror was dismissed because she had admitted she had gotten outside information about the case outside the courtroom that the judge ruled clearly compromised her in this case.

So she was asked to leave after some back and forth, they did not replace her. That was a point of contention also between the two sides, so we have 11 people now who have reached a decision about the fate of Lewis Scooter Libby, and we should know in a few minutes.

COLLINS: All right, that's true. Obviously this has been going on for quite a while, Brian. Back on October 28th is actually when Lewis Scooter Libby resigned his position at the White House in light of all of this.

I want to go ahead and bring in Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst here at CNN as well. And Jeffrey, it might be worth a mention here of all of the different players in this case.

I mean I'm holding in front of me, two different pages of all the different people who were involved in in this. One of them in particular though we would like to remind everyone about. Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state, original source of the leak, where is he today?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Well one of the things that is peculiar about this whole investigation is that it started after Robert Novak, the columnist wrote a column that said Valerie Plame Wilson, the wife of the administration critic Joseph Wilson worked at the CIA.

COLLINS: Yes?

TOOBIN: I'm sorry?

COLLINS: Nope, go ahead.

TOOBIN: And she was effectively outed as a CIA employee and several Democrats on Capitol Hill said this is terrible, the CIA employee shouldn't have this done to them, let's have an investigation.

So the Justice Department appointed an investigation to see who outed Valerie Plame and was that a crime. Well and Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney from Chicago, was appointed apparently very early in his investigation, he learned that the person, the main source for Robert Novak was in fact Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state to Colin Powell in the first term of President Bush.

In fact, Armitage was known as not a particular supporter of the invasion of Iraq, he was not sort of out to get an administration critic. But apparently just passed along that gossip and that was the original source.

Armitage is now gone from the administration, back in private life, but one of the ironies in this case is the fact that the source of the information that started this whole thing was not, as many people expected, someone critical of administration policy -- supportive of administration policy of the war in Iraq, it was a critic of the war, Armitage, but that's how things shook out.

COLLINS: Just another interesting fact in all of this. Jeffrey Toobin, if you'll stick around for us, we'd appreciate it. We are expecting the verdict in the Scooter Lewis Libby case coming up at noon. Got to get another quick break in here as we look at the charges on the screen there. We'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: A live picture of the district court in Washington, D.C. where just in a short time, we are expecting -- really at any moment now to hear the verdict in the trial of Lewis Scooter Libby, a former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, who is right now or has been on trial for five counts involving him possibly in lying to prosecutors about his role in leaking the name of a CIA operative who was a Bush administration critic.

Our Brian Todd has been on this case from the jump. He's standing outside for us now. And Brian, a lot of people try to reassign, try to predict what a jury is going to do and how things are going. We know over the past several days as the jury asked questions, a lot of people were talking about the offbeat nature and the smiles of the defense team including Mr. Libby had on their faces. So just take us back and walk us through how their demeanors have been over the past few days.

TODD: T.j., you're talking about the jurors demeanor or Mr. Libby and his team?

HOLMES: Mr. Libby and his team, actually.

TODD: Well, they've been very, very composed through this case. We've been actually very impressed with how Mr. Libby and his wife and defense team have remained relatively upbeat and composed, not showing any emotion, not showing any negativity throughout this. All were seemingly confident. This obviously could change at any moment.

We are told by the way that Mr. Libby is in the courtroom right now with his attorneys. The last message I got from the courtroom, from our producer Kevin Vaughn (ph), was that the prosecution had not gotten in yet.

But it's literally only a matter of a couple of minutes now. Mr. Libby throughout this trial has been very confident, very composed, very studious, taking a lot of notes at his defense table with each witness coming up and chatting with his attorneys.

But never, never showing any negative emotion, never showing any real emotion at all throughout any of this testimony, even when the star prosecution witness Tim Russert took the stand and really refuted a central claim of Mr. Libby's. So it has been actually actually a very kind of even-keeled temperament on the part of the defense throughout this trial.

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