Skip to comments.Prosecutors Are Said to Have Expanded Inquiry Into Leak of C.I.A. Officer's Name
Posted on 04/01/2004 9:26:46 PM PST by Shermy
By DAVID JOHNSTON and RICHARD W. STEVENSON
WASHINGTON, April 1 Prosecutors investigating whether someone in the Bush administration improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer have expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case, lawyers involved in the case and government officials say.
In looking at violations beyond the original focus of the inquiry, which centered on a rarely used statute that makes it a felony to disclose the identity of an undercover intelligence officer intentionally, prosecutors have widened the range of conduct under scrutiny and for the first time raised the possibility of bringing charges peripheral to the leak itself.
The expansion of the inquiry's scope comes at a time when prosecutors, after a hiatus of about a month, appear to be preparing to seek additional testimony before a federal grand jury, lawyers with clients in the case said. It is not clear whether the renewed grand jury activity represents a concluding session or a prelude to an indictment.
The broadened scope is a potentially significant development that represents exactly what allies of the Bush White House feared when Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself from the case last December and turned it over to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago.
Republican lawyers worried that the leak case, in the hands of an aggressive prosecutor, might grow into an unwieldy, time-consuming and politically charged inquiry, like the sprawling independent counsel inquiries of the 1990's, which distracted and damaged the Clinton administration.
Mr. Fitzgerald is said by lawyers involved in the case and government officials to be examining possible discrepancies between documents he has gathered and statements made by current or former White House officials during a three-month preliminary investigation last fall by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department. Some officials spoke to F.B.I. agents with their lawyers present; others met informally with agents in their offices and even at bars near the White House.
The White House took the unusual step last year of specifically denying any involvement in the leak on the part of several top administration officials, including Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser, and I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. The White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, has repeatedly said no one wants to get to the bottom of the case more than Mr. Bush.
But Mr. Bush himself has said he does not know if investigators will ever be able to determine who disclosed the identity of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Plame, to Robert Novak, who wrote in his syndicated column last July that Ms. Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, was a C.I.A. employee.
Mr. Wilson was a critic of the administration's Iraq policies. Democrats have accused the White House of leaking his wife's name in retaliation because Mr. Wilson, in a July 6, 2003, Op-Ed commentary in The New York Times, disputed Mr. Bush's statement in his State of the Union address that January that Iraq was trying to develop a nuclear bomb and had sought to buy uranium in Africa.
The suspicion that someone may have lied to investigators is based on contradictions between statements by various witnesses in F.B.I. interviews, the lawyers and officials said. The conflicts are said to be buttressed by documents, including memos, e-mail messages and phone records turned over by the White House.
At the same time, Mr. Fitzgerald is said to be investigating whether the disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity came after someone discovered her name among classified documents circulating at the upper echelons of the White House. It could be a crime to disclose information from such a document, although such violations are rarely prosecuted.
Mr. Bush's advisers have repeatedly urged White House employees to cooperate with the inquiry, and it is unclear whether Mr. Fitzgerald has made any decisions about whether to go forward or drop the case. On Thursday, Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald in Chicago, declined to discuss the case.
Mr. McClellan said the White House was fully cooperating with the investigation, but he declined to comment on the latest developments.
Mr. Fitzgerald, who has been in charge of the case for three months, has said he is nearing completion of the inquiry, the lawyers said. Some of them have suggested that he may be facing a problem if he declines to prosecute.
Prosecutors almost never make public the details of cases in which they investigate, but bring no charges. Federal law bars prosecutors from disclosing information obtained through a grand jury, the legal vehicle Mr. Fitzgerald has used to conduct his inquiry.
But in this case, being investigated in the heat of a closely fought presidential election, Democrats have been watching carefully for any sign that the prosecutor has favored the administration. Should Mr. Fitzgerald bring the case to a close with no indictments and no public explanation of his decision not to prosecute, he would almost certainly be subject to intense criticism from Democrats.
Several lawyers said Mr. Fitzgerald could ask a judge to allow him to issue a report. Or, they said, he could seek to employ a rarely used provision of the Justice Department's guidelines for prosecutors allowing grand juries to issue reports. But those sections of the prosecutor's manual appear to relate to public officials in organized crime cases.
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Now, that's not quite true.
can't find a leaker?? just charge them with something else.
wala, instant scandal. no evidence required.
Who are these "lawyers and officials?" Shouldn't a new investigation be started to root them out?
can't find a leaker?? just charge them with something else.
Novak, etc. are not going to squeal or admit they made up stuff to sound more authoritative - they'll be given a pass.
officer have expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case, lawyers involved in the case and government officials say.
Hmmm...Andrea Mitchell and her pal Joe Wilson's big mouth perhaps???
"For something that is supposed to be classified, it seems that this document is easily accessible," Gannon added. "Washington is leaking like a cheap umbrella. Just look at what's happening over on Capitol Hill."
Sounds like thats why they are investigating the White House.
Patrick J. Fitzgerald has always said that he's an independent, not leaning either Republican or Democrat.
Does he have ties to Daly's machine?
Huh? You mean since 9/11 the succession of "leaks" about anything to do with Iraq, always dismissing any danger, doubting any connection, underestimating anything done by Saddam, even going so far as to plant and out and out lie in the New York Times about Vaclav Havel denyning the Prague-Atta meeting, all this wasn't the mere creation of a cabal of some well -meaning, peace loving "senior intelligence officials" but orchestrated and directed by a foreign intelligence agency that has penetrated Washington -say, France or Russia or Saudi - whose couintry or countries had much money to lose if Saddam was overthrown?
To: 1Old Pro
Today Rush said that he had inside information that he couldn't disclose right now, but when the truth comes out about the leaker, people are going to be very surprised. He then elaborated a little bit and said there were a lot of left-over CLintonistas at the State Department. Also, Rush reminded viewers that Wilson has been not only against the war in Iraq, but is/was against the no-fly zone. Wilson repeatedly claimed in recent months Iraq never had WMD. But Rush played audio of Wilson saying before the war that he (Wilson) was afraid Saddam would use WMD. LOL - the guy is a Flipper ala Howard Dean.
99 posted on 09/29/2003 12:34 PM PDT by Peach
On Sunday, October 31st, "unnamed sources" (Clinton holdovers) in the Justice Dept. will announce that an indictment of George W. Bush is forthcoming on charges of "obstruction of justice" releated to the disclosure of the identity of a covert CIA operative, in violation of Federal law. There will, of course, be absolutely no basis for this explosive charge, and it will be retraced 2 weeks later. But the New York Times and Washinton Post will carry the story on the Front Page, and the "Halloween Massacre" will cost Bush 8 points in the polls, and close margins in Ohio, Florida and New Mexico will cost him the election.
Definitely that's part of the game in this article. Good eye.
And typical of these reports, they don't discuss the "intelligence officials" who leaked to Newsday in an article similar to Novak's. Maybe they aren't being investigated...they should be.
'The Ghost & the Shadow', see my FR homepage
Very interesting! Though i've never read Wilson saying there were no WMD, I think that's wrong. But otherwise, that fits our recent (for now) opinion that the first "senior administration official" who is "not a partisan gunslinger" and likes to have "long conversation(s)" with the likes of Novak could very well be Richard Clarke himself.
But within the C.I.A., the exposure of Ms. Plame is now considered an even greater instance of treachery. Ms. Plame, a specialist in nonconventional weapons who worked overseas, had "nonofficial cover," and was what in C.I.A. parlance is called a Noc, the most difficult kind of false identity for the agency to create. While most undercover agency officers disguise their real profession by pretending to be American embassy diplomats or other United States government employees, Ms. Plame passed herself off as a private energy expert. Intelligence experts said that Nocs have especially dangerous jobs. "Nocs are the holiest of holies," said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former agency officer who is now director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. " This is real James Bond stuff. You're going overseas posing as a businessman, and if the other government finds out about you, they're probably going to shoot you. The United States has basically no way to protect you." - http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/05/politics/05TENE.html?hp
And then he popped up to defend Clarke recently right when Clarke first came out.
But we've heard from Pollack before :
MARCH 17, 1999 : (IRAQ NEWS COMMENTS ON IRAQ, KEN POLLACK & NSC : POLLACK HAS DESCRIBED REMOVING SADDAM HUSSEIN AS A 'FANTASY' - DOES THIS SIGNAL CLINTON ADMINISTRATION CHANGE IN IRAQ POLICY?) Ken Pollack is going to be doing for the NSC? And given that he's described removing Saddam Hussein as a fantasy, does that signal the administration is no longer committed to a change in regime in Iraq? - Iraq News, 17 March 1999
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary March 17, 1999 PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY NATIONAL SECRETARY ADVISOR JIM STEINBERG The Briefing Room, 12:45 P.M. EST [Excerpt] Q: Jim, can you tell us -- an Iraq related question -- can you tell us what Ken Pollack is going to be doing for the NSC? And given that he's described removing Saddam Hussein as a fantasy, does that signal the administration is no longer committed to a change in regime in Iraq? STEINBERG: Let me say a couple of things. First, Ken Pollack will be coming as the Director in the -- I guess we call it the Near East and South Asia Directorate -- NESA. Ken is a very distinguished analyst of the region. He's worked the government before, he's worked in the NSC before. We're extremely excited to have him here. He's a powerful intellect and a guy who has tremendous knowledge of the region. I think, first, we very much encourage people, we bring people from both the inside and the outside to work at the NSC. We are not in a position of sort of censoring the writings that they do before or after they come in. The question is whether they have the kind of skills and background to help us do the work. The judgments about policy are the judgments that are ultimately made by the President and his foreign policy team. I also don't agree with your characterization of the particular article. I think the article analyzed some of the difficulties of the various strategies, but let me be perfectly clear that the policy that we have, which is that the only long-term solution to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is a change of regime, is very much a commitment of this administration. We've been moving forward very aggressively -- the appointment of Frank Ricciardone is just one of the important elements of what we've been doing. We've been working very closely with the groups that are outside of Iraq; we are working closely with the governments in the region and others. And I have absolutely no doubt that Ken will be a terrific asset in helping us pursue that agenda. - Iraq News by Laurie Mylroie via http://www.fas.org/news/iraq/1999/03/990317_in.htm.
Pollack is also on the Council on Foreign Relations:
According to Ken Pollack, deputy director of national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a 1998 attack called Operation Desert Fox that attacked such targets provoked Hussein to overreact and order arrests and assassinations that resulted in Shi'a uprisings.
Which, as far as I can tell, was the case with Ms. Plame-Wilson. Indeed, it is open to question whether or not her employment with the CIA was truly a secret. However, it's doubtful that these issues will be contested prior to an indictment.
If anything critical was revealed, it wasn't her ID that was so secret. That's all small stuff. The problem may be that by bringing her into it, it exposed the front company for which she worked. That's bad because a lot of other people may have been using that front company too, and now anyone associated with the company will be seen as a spy.
I've stated all along they would widen the range, but I don't think it's in the direction this article states.
This is the playbook from now until November. If they've got nothing, theey're forced to make it up and start an official inquiry. Repubs better grow some cajones and stop this crap. You'd never guess we were in charge. Never.
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