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

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Day of Questioning, More Questioning and . . . No Questions

By Dana Milbank
Saturday, October 15, 2005; A05

Almost three hours after Karl Rove entered the grand jury chambers yesterday morning, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald walked hurriedly from the room and toward the waiting reporters.

"Just going to the men's room," he announced, continuing past the media pack. "Don't want to create any buzz."

The first part of what Fitzgerald said was true. But not wanting to "create any buzz"? It's a bit late for that.

When you call the president's closest adviser for a fourth grand jury appearance, and grill him for 4 1/2 hours with no guarantee he won't be prosecuted, you're pretty much guaranteed buzz. In addition to the 15 journalists lurking outside the grand jury room on the third floor of the Prettyman courthouse -- the same chambers graced by Monica Lewinsky seven years ago -- there were TV cameras encamped at each of the four exits to the building and media spotters stationed in the lobby.

While Rove testified, three women dressed as condoms, and a fourth with a stocking over her head, distributed "Karl Rove Brand" prophylactics in front of the courthouse. The nine demonstrators, coordinated by the antiwar group Code Pink, chanted "Some things should never leak! Fire Karl Rove!"

The hot-pink condoms, with a smiling photo of Rove on the wrapper and the same "Some Things Should Never Leak" message, promised to be effective against pregnancy, AIDS and STDs.

"Any of the condoms want to say something to the microphones?" one of the camera operators asked. But the latex-clad demonstrators had nothing to add.

The president's chief political strategist was no more forthcoming, at least in public.

Rove, arriving well before the Code Pink crowd, entered the courthouse at 8:45 a.m. with his lawyer, Robert Luskin. He said nothing when one of the reporters asked, "Any comment, sir?" Pete Yost of the Associated Press tried again. "Karl," he said, "If it came down to a root canal or a couple of hours with Fitzgerald, what would you do?" This caused Rove to turn back and look, but he remained silent.

After the witness entered the grand jury area, the U.S. marshal who was accompanying him returned to warn the reporters: "No questions in the courthouse -- even if they're dumb ones."

By 11, the journalists on stakeout duty were getting jumpy; Judy Miller's last appearance before the grand jury took only 70 minutes, so people did not expect Rove to go for hours. Each time the waiting reporters saw a blurry figure on the other side of the frosted-glass door to the grand jury rooms, they jumped into position. But they were subject to a series of false alarms: a court stenographer, some marshals, a different grand jury breaking for lunch, a guy looking for a key to the jury-room bathroom.

Still, network producers called their camera crews outside with urgent updates: "We're getting closer! . . . We might get movement. . . . He owns a Jaguar!" At 12:40, a stampede started when the two court artists walked toward the elevators, causing the whole group of reporters to dash after them; it turned out the artists were only inspecting Halloween decorations outside Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson's office.

After four hours, the reporters on stakeout duty speculated about events inside the grand jury: Did Rove's unusually long testimony mean he was having trouble reconciling his past accounts? Or had he slipped out through a back door and was at that very moment lunching in the White House Mess?

As worries spread that the latter had occurred, Fitzgerald's grand jury finally emerged. The men and women who would judge Rove, 11 of them black and four white, were mostly older, and casually dressed in jeans, sneakers or sweaters. They were followed by Fitzgerald and his legal team, lugging huge briefcases.

"I'm leaving and going back to my office -- that's all I can say," disclosed the prosecutor, hesitantly, as if he had already said too much.

At 1:13, 4 1/2 hours after he entered, Rove emerged with Luskin and a beefy marshal, who shouted as the reporters approached: "We don't ask questions in the United States courthouse!" Rove, who had been asked questions in the courthouse all morning, raised his eyebrows and smiled.

Reporters followed him into the elevator, but Rove's only remark was about the AP reporter's cell phone. "How come he gets to use his phone in here?" asked the usually wired witness, who was not allowed a telephone while speaking to the jury.

Rove and Luskin almost trotted through the lobby. "Not supposed to take questions," Rovewhispered to one White House reporter as the marshal kept hollering, "No questions in this building!"

Outside, there were 18 cameras waiting for Rove and a cacophony of shouted questions. But the witness and his lawyer hopped silently into a waiting Ford Taurus.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

'New York Times' Columnists Defend Lack of Commentary on Judith Miller

By Joe Strupp

Published: October 14, 2005 1:45 PM ET

NEW YORKWith all of the recent opining over Judith Miller's jailing and release and The New York Times' approach to handling it, a group of voices that have been nearly silent on the matter is the Times' own Op-Ed columnists.

Among the eight regular contributors to the Times' prestigious opinion page, only one -- Frank Rich -- has written anything about Miller since her jailing in early July. John Tierney penned a column July 16 about the overall Valerie Plame leak investigation that led to Miller's jailing, but it did not even mention the Times reporter's name. Tierney spent most of his space contending that the issue was not even worth looking at, dubbing it "Nadagate."

Since then, only former columnist William Safire and retired Senator Robert Dole have written about the case on the Op-Ed page, with both supporting Miller.

So why have the newspaper's own viewpoint writers, whose opinions count for so much, stayed almost entirely silent? E&P interviewed four of the eight columnists in recent days, and each denied being discouraged from writing about Miller by their superiors, as some of the Times' critics have alleged.

Frank Rich, for example, asked about the lack of commentary, replied: "We are independent operators who work outside the newsroom." Thomas Friedman said: "We are truly home alone. We can write whatever we want."

John Tierney, however, explained, "I didn't feel a need to weigh in," indicating that his "Nadagate" column represented all he had to say on the issue. "A column really works best when you really have something to say about something. I haven't had a great original thought on this."

Tierney also said that he did not have any more information on the case than any other Times reader, so he was reluctant to give an opinion. When asked if he could have at least acknowledged the issue in a column and written about how it is affecting the media or Washington, he dismissed such an approach. "An awful lot of my columns are not about Washington," said Tierney, who is based in the nation's capital. "I don't have inside knowledge of this case and when I write a column, I try to say something that is original."

Like each columnist who spoke with E&P, Tierney stressed that he had not been urged by anyone at the paper to avoid the subject. "There is absolutely no pressure on me," he said.

Other columnists who spoke with E&P offered similar responses when asked why they had taken a pass on writing about Miller.

"I tend to write about few domestic issues, and it is not really interesting from my point of view," Friedman said. "If I had something to say about it, I'd write about it." Friedman, who recently returned from Iraq, added that he was waiting to see the long-anticipated report on the Miller case, which is rumored to be coming this weekend in the Times. "I am waiting to hear the whole story."

But when asked why he could not have weighed in on the matter during the past few months as Miller waited in jail and the topic received major scrutiny in several news outlets -- including the Times own supportive editorial page -- Friedman repeated that he "just had nothing important to say."

Rich, whose column appears on Sundays, wrote a piece for the July 10 paper that lamented Miller's jailing, but also took her to task for misleading readers with her past coverage of WMDs in Iraq. Since then, Rich has not offered any new opinion on the matter, despite Miller's release and re-testifying this past week.

"Essentially, I want to know the facts," he said, noting that he was working on an Iraq-related column for this Sunday, but offered no more details on it. "The facts I've known, I've written about. I don't know any more about what happened with Judy Miller's case that what everyone else has read about it."

Nicholas Kristof, a four-year veteran of the Times' Op-Ed page, said he had made plans to visit Miller in jail on a day that turned out to be four days after her release. He said he planned to speak with her and then write something about it for the following Sunday. But when she was released, it changed his plans.

"It's an issue that I have been interested in writing about," Kristof said. "But in the past, it was that a reporter should not be in jail in these circumstances. But now it is what is going to happen next." Since he did not know what the next step will be, or what the paper plans to report, Kristof said he had no basis for a column now.

"I didn't just want to sit and suck my thumb and write," he explained. "Columns should be about presenting new information." He adds that writing anything now would be limited without knowing more about the case. "You don't want to write about something without hearing the Judy side of the story or management's side of the story," he said, adding that he had not sought to contact Miller since her release.

Columnists Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, Paul Krugman, and Bob Herbert did not return calls seeking comment.

Time will tell whether Tierney's commentary in his "Nadagate" column will hold up. He wrote: " looks as if this scandal is about a spy who was not endangered, a whistle-blower who did not blow the whistle and was not smeared, and a White House official who has not been fired for a felony that he did not commit. And so far the only victim is a reporter who did not write a story about it."

Rove Testifies Again in CIA Leak Probe - Yahoo! News

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

Karl Rove testified for the fourth time Friday before the grand jury in the CIA leak probe, following public disclosure of his conversations with two reporters about the identity of a covert officer at the spy agency.

The White House aide spent about four and a half hours inside the federal courthouse, and left without commenting to reporters. It was likely Rove's final chance to convince grand jurors he did nothing criminal in the leak case.

Prosecutors have warned Rove, architect of President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, that there is no guarantee he will not be indicted. The grand jury's term is due to expire Oct. 28.

The White House has shifted from categorical denials two years ago that Rove or Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were involved in the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity to "no comment" today.

Press secretary Scott McClellan on Friday rejected suggestions that the investigation of two key players was distracting the White House.

"We're aware of all those things," he said. "But we've got a lot of work to do and that's where we're focused."

Rove walked into the grand jury area with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald before 9 a.m. Friday and walked out a couple of minutes after the prosecutor in the afternoon.

The spotlight in Fitzgerald's investigation recently has fallen on Libby, who was the focus of prosecutors' questions in two grand jury appearances by New York Times reporter Judith Miller. She detailed her conversations with the vice president's top aide about the covert CIA officer, Valerie Plame, and her husband, Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson.

Fitzgerald has a variety of options as he weighs whether anyone broke a law that bars the intentional unmasking of a covert CIA officer. Defense lawyers increasingly are concerned Fitzgerald might pursue other charges such as false statements, obstruction of justice or mishandling of classified information.

For the White House in 2004, the good news about Fitzgerald's probe was that it didn't become an issue during the presidential election year. Witnesses underwent questioning, including Bush and Cheney, White House records were turned over to the grand jury and the administration pledged full cooperation. The president promised to fire any leakers.

Rove, a Texas political consultant who rose through the ranks of Republican politics with the late GOP adviser Lee Atwater, was the architect of Bush's successful drive to re-election. Libby was at Cheney's side during the campaign.

"They are good individuals," McClellan said of Rove and Libby on Oct. 7, 2003. "They are important members of our White House team. And that's why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt with that in the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it's accurate before I report back to you, and that's exactly what I did."

The power to create even more trouble for the administration or wrap up the investigation and return to Chicago, where he is U.S. attorney, lies with Fitzgerald. An experienced prosecutor with a Republican pedigree, Fitzgerald has a reputation for being willing to take on politicians of either political party in corruption probes. Currently, Fitzgerald's office is prosecuting a former Republican governor of Illinois.

The revelations flowing out of Fitzgerald's CIA leak investigation so far offer a public snapshot of Washington at work: A White House with its credibility on the line tries to deal with a political problem by talking confidentially to reporters.

In this instance, the political problem was Wilson and his statements that the administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq. The criticism came as the U.S. military engaged in a fruitless 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.

The trip led subsequently to Wilson's conclusion that the administration had manipulated intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

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 on the matter.

The White House denials of Rove's and Libby's involvement collapsed three months ago, when Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper testified that Rove had been one of his sources for a story that identified Wilson's wife. Libby was another of Cooper's sources for the story, which asked the question, "Has the Bush administration declared war on a former ambassador?"

US News Article |

Fri Oct 14, 2005 9:22 AM ET

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, went before a federal grand jury for a fourth time on Friday as prosecutors neared a decision on whether to bring charges over leaking a covert CIA operative's name.

Rove, the most powerful and controversial political strategist in Washington, made no comment as he entered the federal courthouse to begin his testimony, hoping to convince grand jurors that he did nothing illegal.

Prosecutors have told Rove that they can not guarantee that he will not be indicted over the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

Plame's diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, asserts administration officials outed his wife, damaging her ability to work undercover, to discredit him for criticizing Bush's Iraq policy in a New York Times opinion piece on July 6, 2003.

While special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald could bring charges against officials for the crime of knowingly revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative, several lawyers in the case said he was more likely to bring a broad conspiracy charge or easier-to-prove crimes such as making false statements and perjury.

Fitzgerald could send out "target" letters to senior administration officials at any time, and bring indictments as early as next week, the lawyers said.

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, says his client was not part of "any scheme to punish Joe Wilson by disclosing the identity of his wife."

Fitzgerald might also decide that no crime was committed and issue a report of his findings.

The outcome could shake up an administration already reeling from criticism over its response to Hurricane Katrina and the indictment of House of Representatives Republican leader Tom DeLay of Texas on charges related to campaign financing.


The White House assured the public two years ago that Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, had no role in the Plame leak.

Since then, reporters have identified Rove and Libby as their sources.

Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who was jailed for 85 days before reaching an agreement to reveal her source, testified twice before the grand jury about three conversations she had with Libby. Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper testified Rove was the first person to tell him that Wilson's wife worked at the "agency," or CIA, though Cooper said Rove did not disclose her name. Cooper also discussed Wilson and his wife with Libby.

In Friday's grand jury session, Fitzgerald was expected to press Rove to explain any inconsistencies between his previous testimony and the statements of other witnesses, including Cooper.

Zachary Carter, a former U.S. Attorney in New York, said any time an official testifies multiple times "there's always the risk that they may be perceived as having testified inconsistently."

Fitzgerald appears to be focusing on evidence that top White House officials began seeking information about Wilson and his wife in June 2003, if not sooner.

Wilson had investigated for the CIA an administration charge that Iraq was seeking nuclear materials in Niger and concluded it was unsubstantiated. Cheney's office was eager to discredit Wilson's findings and his assertion that he was sent to Niger at the urging of the vice president, critics say.