News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Charges expected against Libby - Yahoo! News

By Adam Entous

A federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity met in secret on Friday and was expected to bring criminal charges against Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and possibly other White House officials.

But special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald informed President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, that he would not be among those indicted on Friday, although Fitzgerald indicated that Rove would remain under investigation and in legal jeopardy, legal sources said.

Fitzgerald planned to release information about the case at noon EDT and hold a news conference at 2 p.m.

Any indictments handed up on Friday would be the first in the two-year investigation, sparked by the disclosure of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. The case has put a spotlight on the sometimes aggressive tactics the White House has used to counter critics of the Iraq war.

Plame's identity was leaked to the media after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence to support military action against Iraq. Wilson said it was done deliberately to erode his credibility.

Indictments could trigger an immediate shake-up at the White House, already on the defensive over the response to Hurricane Katrina, opposition to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of Bush's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Miers.

Despite initial denials, both Rove and Cheney's chief of staff Lewis Libby spoke to reporters in June and July 2003 about Plame.

It was unclear how Fitzgerald would keep the Rove investigation going since the current grand jury is scheduled to expire at the end of the day on Friday.

"The special counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he has made no decision about whether or not to bring charges and that Mr. Rove's status has not changed," Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said in a statement.

"Mr. Rove will continue to cooperate fully with the special counsel's efforts to complete the investigation."


Fitzgerald, accompanied by other lawyers, had no comment as he arrived at the courthouse and entered the grand jury chambers in the morning.

Libby was a key, behind-the-scenes figure in helping build the administration's case for the invasion of Iraq.

In the run-up to Friday's grand jury session, Fitzgerald conferred in secret with his legal team and with attorneys representing some of the potential defendants, including Luskin.

One lawyer involved in the case said Luskin and other attorneys made last-minute appeals to Fitzgerald to try to avoid indictment, raising the prospect of last-minute plea agreements. When asked on Thursday whether Rove was trying to negotiate Fitzgerald down to a lesser charge, Luskin responded: "False."

On Friday, Luskin said: "We are confident that when the special counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong."

White House officials have been anxiously awaiting Fitzgerald's decision since any indicted officials were expected to immediately resign. Bush was then likely to make a public statement.

In a last-minute flurry of interviews, FBI agents canvassed Plame's neighborhood to see if anyone knew about her covert work for the spy agency before her cover was blown in a July 14, 2003, newspaper column by Robert Novak.

Legal sources said Rove could face perjury charges for initially failing to tell the grand jury he talked to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about Plame.

Lawyers said Libby was open to false statement and obstruction charges because of contradictions between his testimony and that of New York Times reporter Judith Miller and other journalists.

(Additional reporting Jim Vicini and Deborah Charles)


Post a Comment

<< Home