Sunday, October 30, 2005

Washington Post: Rove Remains In "Serious Jeopardy" in CIA Leak Case

Finally somebody in the Mainstream Media counters the spin coming from Karl Rove's PR operation that says Rove is out of legal jeopardy in the CIA leak case. Here's Dana Milbank and Carol Leonnig from the Washington Post on why Rove's fate in the case remains uncertain:

In the indictment, "Official A" is a senior White House official who discussed with syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak the identity of administration critic and former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's wife as a CIA covert agent; that person has been identified as Rove by senior administration officials.

On June 10, 2004, Bush, responded affirmatively when asked in a news conference if he would "fire anyone found" to have leaked Plame's name (although Bush has qualified that pledge on other occasions). On Sept. 29, 2003, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said of the leak: "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."

Republicans and White House officials expressed relief that Rove was not indicted Friday, and they take it as a sign that his chances of being indicted are remote.

Rove's attorney provided Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald with a last-minute flurry of material and evidence supporting Rove's contention that he simply forgot his conversation about Wilson's wife with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper -- rather than lied about it, according to people close to Rove. The sources said it gave Fitzgerald "pause" about his earlier intentions to charge Rove with false statements to the FBI, and he agreed to continue investigating.

But two legal sources intimately familiar with Fitzgerald's tactics in this inquiry said they believe Rove remains in significant danger. They described Fitzgerald as being relentlessly thorough but also conservative throughout this prosecution -- and his willingness to consider Rove's eleventh-hour pleading of a memory lapse is merely a sign of Fitzgerald's caution.

The two legal sources point to what they consider Fitzgerald's careful decision not to charge Libby with the leak of a covert agent's identity, given that the prosecutor had amassed considerable evidence that Libby gave classified information, which he knew from his job should not be made public, to reporters. Another prosecutor might have stretched to make a leak charge, on the theory that a jury would believe, based on other actions, that Libby acted with bad intentions.

Another warning sign for Rove was in the phrasing of Friday's indictment of Libby. Fitzgerald referred to Rove in those charging papers as a senior White House official and dubbed him "Official A." In prosecutorial parlance, this kind of awkward pseudonym is often used for individuals who have not been indicted in a case but still face a significant chance of being charged. No other official in the investigation carries such an identifier.

Somebody should alert David Broder, TweetyBird Matthews, Pumpkinhead Russert, Emptyheaded Woodruff and the rest of the spinmeisters in the Mainstream Media that just because Rove's lawyer says Rove's out of legal jeopardy doesn't make it so.


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