View Full Version : Prosecutor Weighs Move In CIA Leak Probe

10-15-2005, 02:55 PM
Prosecutor Weighs Move in CIA Leak Probe


By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 14 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - With the criminal investigation into who leaked the identity of a covert CIA officer apparently nearing an end, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald could seek indictments of top White House aides or quietly close up shop.

The grand jury that heard several hours of testimony Friday from President Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, is set to expire Oct. 28. Rove's lawyer said Fitzgerald has "affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges."

Even if Fitzgerald decides not to prosecute anyone, that may not be the end of the matter: The prosecutor could write a final report detailing his investigation. But unlike past special prosecutors, such as Ken Starr in the Monica Lewinsky affair, who operated under the now-expired independent counsel law, Fitzgerald is not required to produce a public report.

Nevertheless, some Democrats on Capitol Hill are pressing him to do so.

"Such a report would ensure Congress and the American people that the investigation of this serious matter has been undertaken with the utmost diligence and has been free of partisan, political influence," wrote Reps. Jane Harman of California, John Conyers of Michigan, Rush Holt of New Jersey and Tom Lantos of California. Fitzgerald has never addressed whether he will make a public report.

At the White House, the waiting has been filled with a string of no comments about Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who both were involved in conversations with reporters about covert CIA officer Valerie Plame in 2003, according to evidence that has emerged over the past three months.

Plame's husband is Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, who became a focus of White House attention when he suggested publicly that intelligence had been twisted before the war to exaggerate the threat that Iraq might be working on nuclear weapons.

All White House spokesman Scott McClellan would say Friday is that his statements in the summer that Rove retained the president's confidence remain true. However, McClellan declined repeatedly to utter words of confidence outright.

"Karl continues to do his duties as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to the president," McClellan said. "What I said previously still stands."

Prosecutors had warned Rove before his latest grand jury appearance that there is no guarantee he will not be indicted.

Rove spent about four and a half hours inside the federal courthouse, and left without commenting to reporters.

Fitzgerald "has not advised Mr. Rove that he is a target of the investigation and affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges," Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, said in a statement. "The special counsel has indicated that he does not anticipate the need for Mr. Rove's further cooperation."

New York Times reporter Judith Miller testified twice in recent days to the same grand jury as Rove. Miller had three conversations with Libby in June and July 2003 regarding Wilson and Plame.

Cheney on Friday was asked about Libby's earlier grand jury testimony and Libby's conversations with Miller.

"I'm simply not at liberty to discuss the issue, I understand you've got to ask those questions but it is an ongoing investigation and we're under instructions not to discuss the matter," Cheney told Fox News Channel.

McClellan told reporters, "The president made it very clear, we're not going to comment on an ongoing investigation. We're aware of all those things. But we've got a lot of work to do and that's where we're focused."

Wilson's public criticism of the Bush administration starting July 6, 2003, came as the U.S. military engaged in an unsuccessful search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The existence of such weapons was the primary reason the administration gave to justify going to war.

Eight days after Wilson made his allegations, columnist Robert Novak identified Wilson's wife as a CIA operative, saying she had suggested her husband for a mission to Africa for the agency.

Wilson said his trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA discredited a report that Iraq had bought uranium yellowcake, which can be used in nuclear weapons.

Novak said his sources were two senior administration officials. Rove spoke to Novak about Wilson's wife and is apparently one of Novak's sources. The other is still a public mystery. Novak is believed to have cooperated with Fitzgerald's investigation, though he has declined to comment.