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

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cheney Adviser Indicted in CIA Leak Probe

Vice President Accepts I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby's Resignation 'With Deep Regret'

By William Branigin, Carol D. Leonnig and Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 28, 2005; 7:12 PM

Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted today by a federal grand jury after a nearly two-year investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity.

Capping a week of political turmoil in Washington, Libby promptly resigned and left the White House. He expressed confidence that eventually he would be "totally exonerated," and both Cheney and President Bush praised his talent and dedication. "Obviously, today is a sad day for me and my family," Libby said in a statement.

The grand jury did not return an indictment against another top administration official who was caught up in the probe: Karl Rove, President Bush's top political strategist. But the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, said the investigation is "not over" and that another grand jury would be kept open in case prosecutors decide to press other charges.

Libby, 55, was indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The five-count indictment charges that he lied to FBI agents and to the federal grand jury about how and when he learned classified information about the employment of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame, and disclosed that information to three journalists. If convicted on all counts, Libby faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine.

In brief remarks before flying to Camp David for the weekend, Bush said he had accepted the resignation and praised Libby as an aide who "worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country." He called the investigation "serious" and said the process now moves to a new phase, leading to a trial.

"While we are all saddened by today's news, we remain wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country," Bush said. "I got a job to do, and so do the people who work in the White House." He did not take any questions from reporters.

Cheney said in a statement that he accepted Libby's resignation "with deep regret." He called his aide "one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known." Cheney added that "it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the charges or on any facts relating to the proceeding."

The indictment was handed up today as the grand jury's term expired. Although no indictment was announced for Rove, 54, the White House deputy chief of staff, today's proceedings did not remove him from legal jeopardy, since the investigation is continuing.

An attorney for Rove, Robert Luskin, said in a statement this morning, "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. Mr. Rove will continue to cooperate fully with the Special Counsel's efforts to complete the investigation. We are confident that when the Special Counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong."

Rove provided new information to Fitzgerald during eleventh-hour negotiations that "gave Fitzgerald pause" about charging Bush's senior strategist, said a source close to Rove. "The prosecutor has to resolve those issues before he decides what to do."

"We're not quite done," Fitzgerald said in an hour-long news conference this afternoon. But he refused to comment on whether anyone beside Libby would be charged in the case or whether additional charges against Libby would be sought.

"I will not end the investigation until I can look anyone in the eye and tell them we have carried out our responsibility sufficiently," Fitzgerald said.

Asked about what a reporter described as "Republican talking points" minimizing the significance of today's charges, the prosecutor said lying under oath "is a very, very serious matter" and a "serious breach of the public trust."

He said, "We didn't get the straight story, and we had to take action."

Fitzgerald said that contrary to what Libby told the FBI and the grand jury, he had held at least seven discussions with government officials regarding the CIA agent before the day when he claimed to have learned about her from Tim Russert of NBC News. "And in fact, when he spoke to Mr. Russert, they never discussed it," Fitzgerald said.

"At the end of the day, what appears is that Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true," the special counsel said. "It was false. He was at the beginning of the chain of phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter. And then he lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly."

The indictment contains one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements. The charges involve testimony that Libby gave to the grand jury and other statements he made regarding his conversations with three journalists: Judith Miller of the New York Times, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Russert.

Libby is to be arraigned at a later date. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, an appointee of President Bush.

A press release issued by the special counsel's office said that before Plame's name appeared in the press in July 2003, her CIA employment was classified and her affiliation with the agency "was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community." It said that disclosing such information "has the potential to damage the national security" by preventing the person from operating covertly in the future, compromising intelligence-gathering and endangering CIA employees and those who deal with them.

However, the indictment does not charge Libby with the original alleged offense that the grand jury set out to investigate: illegally revealing the identity of a covert agent in violation of a 1982 federal law.

The presentation of the indictment lasted less than five minutes from the time U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson entered courtroom No. 4 on the second floor of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse at 12:35 p.m. Fitzgerald and 10 members of his legal team, as well as the jury forewoman, had come to the courtroom about 15 minutes earlier, taking seats around a large wooden table near the center of the room and talking quietly among themselves. The rest of the grand jury entered a few minutes later. Neither Libby nor any of his attorneys was in the courtroom.

The grand jury included nine black women, four white women, three black men, two white men and a Hispanic man. Most appeared to be middle-aged or older, and all wore blank faces or serious expressions at today's proceeding. They sat quietly and did not speak to each other before the indictment was announced.

As tension mounted ahead of the indictment, the White House adopted a business-as-usual approach. Bush traveled to Norfolk, Va., today to deliver a speech on the war on terrorism, and Cheney was in Georgia to attend several political events.

The investigation by the federal grand jury in Washington was originally launched to determine whether anyone illegally leaked the name of Plame, a covert CIA agent, in an effort to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, in retaliation for his criticism of the war in Iraq. Wilson began criticizing the war and the Bush administration after a 2002 trip he took at the behest of the CIA to the African country of Niger to look into reports that Iraq was seeking materials to build nuclear weapons.

In a statement read by his lawyer this afternoon, Wilson said, "Whatever the final outcome of the investigation and the prosecution, I continue to believe that revealing my wife Valerie's secret CIA identity was very wrong and harmful to our nation, and I feel that my family was attacked for my speaking the truth about the events that led our country to war."

But he said the indictment was no reason to celebrate. "Today is a sad day for America," Wilson said. "When an indictment is delivered at the front door of the White House, the office of the president is defiled. No citizen can take pleasure from that."

The indictment charges that Libby began acquiring information about Wilson's trip in May 2003 after a New York Times columnist disputed the accuracy of a Bush statement in his State of the Union address. The column said a former ambassador, who was not named, found the statement to be false.

According to the indictment, Libby learned Plame's identity from a senior State Department official in June 2003 and was told by Cheney that she worked in the CIA's Counterproliferation Division.

The two key subjects of the inquiry -- Rove and Libby -- have acknowledged talking about Plame to reporters, but they have denied leaking her name or committing other wrongdoing.

Libby testified that he did not identify Plame by name to reporters or discuss her covert status with them. But Miller of the New York Times has testified that she believed she first learned of Plame's CIA job from Libby, when the two spoke on June 23, 2003. Miller said she and Libby discussed Plame again in a meeting on July 8, 2003, and in a phone conversation a few days later, on July 12. She has said she first learned Plame's name from someone other than Libby but does not recall who it was.

The reported effort to discredit Wilson was rooted in a clash between the White House -- notably Cheney -- and the intelligence bureaucracy in the CIA and State Department over the war in Iraq. Grand jury testimony that has been disclosed suggests that Bush administration officials suspected the CIA of trying to shift blame for prewar intelligence failures to the White House.

The vice president played a central role in assembling the case for invading Iraq and repeatedly pressed for intelligence that would bolster his arguments. Ironically, it was a question from Cheney during an intelligence briefing that initiated the chain of events that led to the grand jury investigation. He had received a military intelligence report alleging that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger and asked what the CIA knew about it.

As a result, Wilson was dispatched in February 2002 to look into claims that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger for use in developing nuclear weapons. Wilson has said he found no evidence of any such effort and reported that the claims were false.

Nevertheless, President Bush said in his January 2003 State of the Union address that the British government had learned Hussein "recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Two months later, Bush ordered U.S. troops into Iraq to depose Hussein and eliminate a purported threat to the United States from Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction." No such weapons were found, nor was there evidence that the Hussein regime had reconstituted a nuclear weapons program.

In an opinion piece published in the July 6, 2003, New York Times, Wilson criticized Bush's State of the Union statement. Wilson wrote that if his findings in Niger were ignored because they did not fit the administration's "preconceptions about Iraq," then a case could be made "that we went to war under false pretenses." He said some intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear program was "twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

On July 14, conservative political commentator Robert D. Novak wrote a syndicated column that called Wilson's African mission into question, suggesting the trip was instigated by Wilson's wife and did not have high-level backing. Novak named Plame as "an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction" and said "two senior administration officials" had told him she had suggested sending her husband on the Niger trip.

Wilson subsequently complained that the Bush administration had compromised his wife's CIA career in retribution against him.

The CIA then asked the Justice Department to investigate the leak. Fitzgerald, a hard-charging U.S. attorney in Chicago, was appointed special counsel for the probe in late December 2003. His charge was to determine whether anyone involved in the leak violated federal law, including the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. The act makes it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a person with access to classified information to intentionally disclose the identity of a covert agent to anyone not authorized to receive classified information.

During the investigation, Fitzgerald sought grand jury testimony from several journalists who had spoken with administration officials about Plame, and he came down hard on those who refused to cooperate.

The federal judge in the case, Thomas F. Hogan, ordered the New York Times's Miller held for contempt for refusing to identify a confidential source, and she spent 85 days in jail in Alexandria, Va., before agreeing to testify about conversations with Libby. Although she did not write an article about the case, Miller interviewed Libby about the Plame matter and promised him anonymity. Miller said she agreed to testify when Libby specifically and personally released her from the confidentiality pledge.

Among those interviewed by Fitzgerald in the case have been Bush, Cheney and several of their top aides and advisers.

Washington Post staff writer Jim VandeHei contributed to this article.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

'Official A' Stands Out in Indictment - Yahoo! News

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

In a sign of the trouble lingering for the Bush administration, the indictment handed up Friday in the CIA leak probe refers to someone at the White House known as "Official A."

The unidentified official could become a courtroom witness against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who left his job as vice presidential aide shortly after his indictment on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury.

Although other officials are mentioned but not named in the indictment, all were identified Friday afternoon during briefings at the Justice Department.

Except for "Official A."

The mysterious official is identified in the indictment only as "a senior official in the White House."

No mention is made of Karl Rove, the president's political adviser who remains under investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

It has been known that columnist Robert Novak spoke to Rove on July 9, 2003, saying he planned to report over the weekend that Valerie Plame, the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, had worked for the CIA. Rove told the columnist he had heard similar information.

Friday's indictment says "Official A" is a "senior official in the White House who advised Libby on July 10 or 11 of 2003" about a chat with Novak about his upcoming column in which Plame would be identified as a CIA employee.

Late Friday, three people close to the investigation, each asking to remain unidentified because of grand jury secrecy, identified Rove as Official A.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Charged aide quits Cheney office

Lewis Libby, chief-of-staff to Dick Cheney, was also charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements to a federal grand jury.

Bush aide Karl Rove was not charged but the investigation remains open.

The identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame - whose husband criticised the Iraq war - was leaked to a US reporter in 2003.

Mr Libby said he was confident he would be "completely and totally exonerated".

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has accused Mr Libby of lying to investigators about how and when he learned and disclosed to reporters classified information about Ms Plame.

Two charges of perjury
Two counts of making a false statement
One charge of obstruction of justice
Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

If found guilty on all five counts in the indictment, Mr Libby, 55, faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1.25m (£705,000) fine for each charge.
Mr Cheney - who will almost certainly have to testify at a trial - said he had accepted Mr Libby's resignation with deep regret, adding that he must be presumed innocent until found guilty.

Speaking outside the White House, President George W Bush said Mr Libby had "sacrificed much" and served in "extraordinary times".

He said Mr Libby could expect "due process and a fair trial".

'Lied under oath'

This latest crisis for the Bush administration follows the withdrawal on Thursday of the president's nominee for the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, after criticism from Mr Bush's conservative supporters.

The BBC's Washington correspondent Justin Webb says this is not a knock-out blow for the president, but Mr Bush is politically wounded and will face further political embarrassment in the court case which will follow.
Meanwhile, Mr Bush's right-hand man, Karl Rove, is still in a state of limbo. His lawyer says he is still under investigation.

The prosecutor, Mr Fitzergerald, said the investigation was not yet over, but he would not speculate on whether anyone else would be charged.

Setting out the evidence at a news conference, Mr Fitzgerald alleged Mr Libby had deliberately misled the FBI over his conversations with reporters about Ms Plame.
"At the end of the day, what appears is that Mr Libby's story, that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true - it was false," he said.

"He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government, to a reporter. And he lied about it afterwards, under oath, and repeatedly."

He said the indictment showed the world that all Americans, no matter what their position, were bound by the law.

The disclosure had not only damaged Ms Plame but also compromised US national security, he said.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said the bigger picture was "about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president".

Ms Plame's identity was leaked after her husband, diplomat Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence to support military action against Iraq.

Mr Wilson says it was done to undermine his credibility. Others have raised the possibility that it was a form of payback for her husband's criticism.

Bush Stresses Libby Is Presumed Innocent - Yahoo! News

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney volunteered glowing endorsements and expressed no criticism of I. Lewis Libby on Friday as the senior White House adviser was indicted, resigned and lost his security clearance.

Cheney called Libby "one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known."

Bush said, "We're all saddened by today's news."

Libby, known by his nickname of "Scooter," was Cheney's chief of staff, national security adviser and close confidant. He was accused of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to a federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative's name by someone in the administration.

"Scooter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country," Bush said. "In our system, each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial."

Bush watched about 15 or 20 minutes of a televised news conference by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald about his two-year investigation that led to Libby's indictment.

Later, the president glowered at NBC News reporter David Gregory, when he shouted at Bush, "Are you embarrassed by these charges?" The president had to walk within a few feet of the correspondent to get to his helicopter on the South Lawn, and Bush stared hard at Gregory as he continued to shout questions.

Bush flew to Camp David, his mountaintop retreat in Maryland, for the weekend.

Libby was a driving force behind the administration's march to war against Iraq and helped assemble evidence — later proven false — asserting that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which became the rationale for the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

After weeks of suspense and anxiety, there was an obvious sense of relief at the White House that Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, had escaped indictment although he remains under investigation. Apparently told in advance that he wouldn't be indicted, Rove waved to photographers from the window of his home Friday morning and clowned around as he left for the White House.

When Libby's indictment came down, Cheney was in Georgia for a congressional fundraiser and a visit to a military base. He said Libby had informed him that he was resigning to fight the charges, adding, "I have accepted his decision with deep regret."

Libby tendered his resignation to Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, and left the executive mansion shortly after that. Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said Libby turned in his White House pass and his security clearance was automatically terminated.

The White House counsel's office sent a memo to all staff directing them not to respond to questions about the Libby investigation or to discuss it among themselves. It also said that "all White House staffers should not have any contact with Scooter Libby about any aspect of the investigation," McClellan said.

While the president's aides have been distracted for weeks by the Libby-Rove investigation, Bush said, "We remain wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country. I got a job to do and so do the people who work in the White House."

He said the administration was focused on protecting the country and keeping the economy strong, and that he would soon name a new justice to the Supreme Court. Card, in a staff memo, also praised Libby and reminded the staff to remain focused on their jobs.

Accompanying Bush to Camp David was Harriet Miers, the White House legal counsel who withdrew as a candidate for the high court on Thursday in the face of withering criticism from conservatives. In accepting her withdrawal, Bush said Miers would resume her duties helping review candidates for judicial openings. Libby Indictment Shows Campaign to Discredit Iraq War Critic

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The case against I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff who is accused of lying about the leak of a CIA agent's name, describes a three-month White House campaign to discredit a critic of the Iraq war.

Libby, 55, began digging in May 2003 for information on Joseph Wilson, who disputed a key claim President George W. Bush used to justify the invasion of Iraq, court papers say. Cheney and others told Libby that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a Central Intelligence Agency employee a month later, the prosecutors say. Her name first appeared in print in July.

``The administration looks like it was paying careful attention to anyone who was a critic of the arguments being made for going to war in Iraq,'' said Stephen Saltzburg, a former Justice Department official and now a professor at George Washington University Law School. ``It's a reminder that we went to war on such bad information.''

The mission against Wilson, as described in a five-count indictment today, involved other White House aides and brought Libby in contact with officials from the State Department, the CIA, and the White House press office.

The name of Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser who appeared four times before the grand jury, doesn't appear in the indictment, and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald refused to say if he still might face charges.

``The substantial bulk of work in this investigation is concluded,'' said Fitzgerald at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington.

A Disruption for Bush

The charges have disrupted Bush's second term in office, which has been beset by criticism of the war and the response to recent hurricanes. The indictment, which prompted Libby to resign, also gives ammunition to the president's political opponents.

``This is far more than an indictment of an individual,'' Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts said in a statement. ``In effect, it's an indictment of the vicious and devious tactics used by the administration to justify a war we never should have fought.''

Fitzgerald refused to identify the official who leaked Plame's name to conservative columnist Robert Novak, the first to report her name. The court papers refer to the person both as ``Official A'' and a ``senior official in the White House.''

Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, also took pains to say that Libby isn't charged with disclosing the name of a covert CIA agent, which is the allegation that began the probe. Libby is accused of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

Libby's Campaign

``If what we allege in the indictment is true, then what is charged is a very, very serious crime,'' Fitzgerald said. The nation's security can be at stake when a CIA officer is unmasked, he said.

The indictment alleges that Libby's campaign began in May 2003 after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof challenged Bush's assertion that British authorities had learned that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ``recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.''

In a May 6 column, Kristof reported that the CIA sent a former U.S. ambassador, not identified by name, to Niger to investigate the accuracy of the British allegations, which the president had repeated in his 2003 State of the Union address to Congress.

Libby sought the identity of the former ambassador from then- Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman, who informed him the diplomat was Joseph Wilson. Grossman told Libby on June 11 or June 12, 2003, that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and she was involved in planning the trip, according to the indictment. Libby confirmed this information with a CIA official.

Reporter's Inquiries

The indictment states Libby and others in Cheney's office discussed how to respond to inquiries by Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus about Wilson's trip.

On June 12, the indictment says, Cheney told Libby that Wilson's wife worked in the division of the CIA that tries to stop proliferation of unconventional weapons.

The government says that, following the on-line publication June 19 of a New Republic report that Cheney's office had sent Wilson to Niger, Libby and his then-principal deputy, Eric Edelman, discussed whether to leak the details of the trip to the press to rebut the article.

Libby told Edelman ``there would be complications at the CIA'' from disclosing the information, the indictment says. Still, on June 23, Libby told New York Times reporter Judith Miller that Wilson's wife ``might work at a bureau of the CIA,'' the indictment says.

The campaign continued after Wilson published his own story, a July 6 opinion piece in the New York Times entitled ``What I Didn't Find in Africa,'' according to the indictment.

Confirming Reports

During a lunch the next day, Libby told White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, the government says. On July 8, Libby spoke again with Miller about the trip and again on July 12. Also that day, Libby confirmed to Time reporter Matthew Cooper that he had also heard that Wilson's wife helped set up his trip to Niger, the indictment says.

Libby, however, told both FBI agents and the grand jury that reporters told him about Plame, who also went by her married name, Valerie Wilson.

``At the end of the day what appears is that Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true,'' Fitzgerald said today. ``It was false. He was at the beginning of the chain of phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter. And then he lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly.''

To contact the reporter on this story:
Robert Schmidt in Washington at

Last Updated: October 28, 2005 17:16 EDT

F.B.I. Is Still Seeking Source of Forged Uranium Reports - New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 - A two-year inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation has yet to uncover the origin of forged documents that formed a basis for sending an envoy on a fact-finding trip to Niger, a mission that eventually exploded into the C.I.A. leak inquiry, law enforcement and intelligence officials say.

A counterespionage official said Wednesday that the inquiry into the documents, which were intended to show that Iraq was seeking uranium for a nuclear weapons program, had yielded some intriguing but unproved theories. One is the possibility that associates of Ahmad Chalabi, the former Iraqi exile who was a leading champion of the American campaign to topple Saddam Hussein, had a hand in the forgery. A second hypothesis, described by some officials as more likely, is that the documents were forged at Niger's embassy in Rome, in a moneymaking scheme. The official said the matter was being investigated as a counterintelligence case, not a criminal one.

The United States government did not receive the papers until October 2002, eight months after the Central Intelligence Agency sent Joseph C. Wilson IV, a retired ambassador, to Niger on the fact-finding mission, according to a review completed last year by the Senate intelligence committee. The C.I.A. decided in March 2003 that the papers were forgeries.

But a little-noticed passage in another government report said the C.I.A. had determined that foreign intelligence passed to the agency in the months before Mr. Wilson's trip also contained information that was "based on the forged documents and was thus itself unreliable."

That early foreign reporting, never endorsed by American intelligence analysts, prompted questions from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, which in turn led to Mr. Wilson's trip, a chain of events spelled out in the reviews of prewar intelligence issued this year and last year.

The continuing inquiry into the source of the forged documents has been conducted separately from the investigation by the special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald into the leak case, which has to do with whether Bush administration officials committed crimes related to disclosing the identity of Mr. Wilson's wife, an undercover C.I.A. officer.

Law enforcement officials say they do not believe that the two issues are related. The documents were among the sources of President Bush's claim in a 16-word passage of his State of the Union speech in 2003, later retracted, that Iraq was seeking to obtain uranium from Africa.

The question of who forged the documents remains of intense interest on Capitol Hill, where Senators Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, and John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, have received classified briefings on the status of the F.B.I. inquiry. The two are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the intelligence committee.

That the initial reports prompting Mr. Wilson's trip were based on forged documents was reported in March by the Robb-Silberman commission on intelligence involving weapons of mass destruction. A footnote in the commission's report said, "It is still unclear who forged the documents and why." But it added that a classified version of the report had included discussion of "some further factual findings concerning the potential source of the forgeries."

Among American allies, Britain was the most vocal proponent of the argument that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium, but former senior intelligence officials said the reporting had actually come from Italy's military intelligence service.

An Italian journalist handed the documents over to the United States government in October 2002, months after the Wilson mission to Africa, according to the review by the intelligence committee.

A month earlier, the deputy national security adviser at the time, Stephen J. Hadley, met in Washington with the head of an Italian intelligence service, according to a report that was published this week in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. The White House has confirmed that the meeting took place, but a spokesman for Mr. Hadley described it as a courtesy call of 15 minutes or less.

"No one present at that meeting has any recollection of yellowcake being discussed or documents being provided," Frederick Jones, Mr. Hadley's spokesman, said Thursday, referring to a form of uranium.

The Italian government denied on Wednesday that its intelligence services had played any role in the "manufacture or spreading" of such a falsified dossier.

Wendy Morigi, a spokeswoman for Mr. Rockefeller, would say only that he and Mr. Roberts had been briefed by the F.B.I. about the Niger inquiry. An aide to Mr. Roberts said only that "ongoing investigations of that type are the kinds of things they are briefed on."

According to the review by the committee, the C.I.A. produced intelligence documents in October 2001 and February 2002 describing reports by "a foreign government service" that Niger planned to send several tons of uranium to Iraq, but cautioned that the information was uncorroborated. The second report provided what the C.I.A. described as the "verbatim text" of what the foreign service had said was an Iraq-Niger agreement.

The Defense Intelligence Agency then issued a Feb. 12, 2002, report repeating the details in the C.I.A. report, but its assessment "did not include any judgments about the credibility of the reporting," the Senate report said. It said Mr. Cheney, after reading the report, asked for the C.I.A.'s analysis of events.

In response to those questions, the Senate report said, the C.I.A.'s counterproliferation division decided to contact Mr. Wilson, who was posted early in his career in Niger. His wife, Valerie Wilson, also known as Valerie Plame, was an undercover officer in that division. The Senate report says that when the division decided to send Mr. Wilson to Niger, she approached him on behalf of the agency and told him "there's this crazy report" on a possible deal for Niger to sell uranium to Iraq.

David Johnston and Ian Fisher contributed reporting for this article.

ABC News: 'Scooter' Libby Indicted in CIA Leak Case, Resigns

Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief Aide Faces Five Charges Totaling 30-Year Sentence
Oct. 28, 2005 — - Vice President Dick Cheney's chief adviser, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted on five charges today in the CIA leak investigation and resigned from his White House position.Top White House strategist Karl Rove evaded charges but will remain under investigation.

Libby has been indicted on obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and two counts of allegedly making false statements in the investigation into the disclosure of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. The grand jury investigating the case handed up the indictment this afternoon. If convicted, Libby could face up to 30 years in prison and $1.25 million fine.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Libby submitted his resignation earlier today and it was accepted by President Bush. Cheney said he regretted Libby's decision to resign and urged others not to prejudge his now-former adviser.

"Mr. Libby has informed me that he is resigning to fight the charges brought against him. I have accepted his decision with deep regret," Cheney said in a statement. "Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known. He has given many years of his life to public service and has served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction. In our system of government an accused person is presumed innocent until a contrary finding is made by a jury after an opportunity to answer the charges and a full airing of the facts. Mr. Libby is entitled to that opportunity. Because this is a pending legal proceeding, in fairness to all those involved, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the charges or on any facts relating to the proceeding."

Bush is expected to speak about the charges at 3:50 p.m. ET.

The End of the Chain of Information ... or the Beginning?
Libby has told the grand jury that he only learned about Plame's secret identity from other reporters and that he was only trading information that he didn't even know was true. But Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor appointed to lead the investigation, told reporters this afternoon, evidence shows that he was talking about Plame long before her identity was leaked and that he repeatedly lied about it to the grand jury.
"Mr. Libby repeatedly said that he was at the end of a long chain of information, and he did indeed tell a compelling story," said Fitzgerald. "It was a compelling story, if only it was true. ... Evidence shows that Mr. Libby was in fact at the beginning of the chain and lied about it under oath and repeatedly lied about it."

Fitzgerald said that the investigation will continue but that most of his work has been finished.

"Is the investigation finished? It's not over," he said. "But ... very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that's going to be tried in which you ever end a grand jury investigation. I can tell you that the substantial bulk of the work of this investigation is concluded."

Rove Confident of Ultimate Exoneration
Rove, deputy White House chief of staff and Bush's closest adviser, appears to have escaped indictment for now, but will continue to be under investigation.
Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said he was told by Fitzgerald's office that investigators had "made no decision about whether or not to bring charges" and would continue their probe into Rove's conduct. Rove has testified four times before the grand jury and has maintained that he discussed Wilson's wife with reporters on the condition of anonymity and was only trading information that came from other reporters.

"We are confident that when the Special Counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong," Luskin said in a statement.

Long, Tangled Journey to Indictment
Fitzgerald has been investigating the disclosure to reporters of the identity of Plame. The case goes back to February 2002, when CIA officials asked former diplomat Joseph Wilson, Plame's husband, to investigate a report that Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain uranium from Niger in the late 1990s for the production of nuclear weapons. Wilson concluded that the report was false. The documents related to the alleged sale were ultimately determined to be forgeries.

However, Bush made reference to a purported uranium deal between Iraq and Africa in his State of the Union address in January 2003. Six months later, Wilson publicly accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence and exaggerating the threat from Iraq to justify going to war, prompting criticism from conservatives and Bush supporters. Six days after a critical op-ed penned by Wilson appeared in The New York Times, conservative columnist Robert Novak wrote that "two senior administration officials" had told him that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative and had suggested sending him on the trip to Africa. Novak identified her her as Valerie Plame.

Novak wasn't the only reporter who apparently had learned about Plame's identity. Several reporters had had conversations with administration officials about a CIA link to Wilson's wife.

One of the officials who allegedly talked to reporters was Libby. Before the CIA leak investigation began, one of the words most commonly used to describe Libby was "discreet." He has testified before the grand jury, and testimony shows that he met three times with a New York Times reporter before the Plame leak, initiated a call to an NBC reporter, and was a confirming source about Wilson's wife to Time magazine. Like Rove, he is said to have talked to reporters under anonymity and was only trading information that he had heard from other reporters.

Administration Dogged by Questions
There have also been questions about Cheney's alleged role in the CIA leak.

The New York Times has reported that notes from a previously undisclosed June 12, 2003, conversation between Libby and Cheney suggest Libby first learned about Plame from Cheney himself. This appears to contradict Libby's grand jury testimony that he first heard about Plame from journalists.

With the outing, Plame's career as a covert CIA operative has ended. The leak of her identity has sparked the questions: Who revealed Plame's identity, and why? These questions have dogged the Bush administration as weapons of mass destruction -- the initial rationale for the United States attacking Iraq -- have never been found and the death toll continues to mount. Wilson has claimed that the leak was made in retaliation for his criticism of the Bush administration's argument for going to war in Iraq.

Knowingly disclosing the identity of a covert agent like Plame could be a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which could land a person in prison for up to 10 years.

The White House can breathe a guarded sigh of relief with Rove unindicted at present. But Libby's indictment caps off a week full of bad news for Bush. On Wednesday, U.S. officials announced the 2000th military death in Iraq, fueling the already growing opposition to the war. And on Thursday, after mounting opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, the White House announced that Harriet Miers, Bush's choice to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, had withdrawn her nomination.

Reported by ABC News' Jonathan Karl.

Cheney aide Libby charged in leak probe - Yahoo! News

By Adam Entous and James Vicini

Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, was indicted on Friday for obstructing justice, perjury and lying after a two-year CIA leak investigation, another blow to the White House that raises the specter of a politically damaging trial.

Libby, who could face up to 30 years in prison, resigned minutes after the indictment was handed up in federal court in Washington. In a statement, Cheney said Libby would "fight the charges brought against him."

President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was not indicted along with Libby, but special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has made clear to Rove he remains under investigation and in legal jeopardy, lawyers said.

Libby's indictment and resignation was another setback to a White House already on the defensive over the bungled initial response to Hurricane Katrina, growing opposition to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of Bush's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Miers under fire from Bush's conservative base.

At a news conference after the grand jury acted, Fitzgerald said his investigation was continuing but he declined to discuss anyone who was not charged.

"It's not over," he told reporters.

Despite initial denials, both Rove and Libby spoke to reporters in June and July 2003 about the CIA operative, Valerie Plame, whose identify was leaked to the media.

Libby, who played a major behind-the-scenes role in building the case for the Iraq war, was accused in the five-count indictment of making false statements about how and when he learned and disclosed to reporters classified information about Plame.

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.

Libby was not charged with illegally disclosing the name of a CIA operative. The charges were the first brought as part of the investigation.

If convicted, Libby, 55, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine, prosecutors said.

The charges accuse Libby of lying to FBI agents who interviewed him on October 14, 2003, and November 26, 2003, committing perjury while testifying under oath to the grand jury twice in March 2004, and engaging in obstruction of justice by impeding the grand jury's investigation.


"When citizens testify before grand juries, they are required to tell the truth," Fitzgerald said. "The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens including persons who hold high positions in government."

At the news conference, Fitzgerald said Libby had provided FBI agents with a "compelling story" indicating he was simply the recipient of information about Plame from reporters.

"He lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly," Fitzgerald said.

The leak case has put a spotlight on the sometimes aggressive tactics the White House has used to counter critics of the Iraq war.

Wilson based his criticism in part on a CIA-sponsored mission he made to Africa in 2002 to check out an intelligence report that Iraq sought uranium from Niger.

Bush cited intelligence that Iraq sought uranium from Africa in his 2003 State of the Union address, but Wilson later said the claim was unsubstantiated.

Cheney and Cheney's office sought to discredit Wilson and his findings by suggesting the trip was a boondoggle that had been arranged by his wife.

Libby is quiet force who helped shape Iraq policy - Yahoo! News

By Caren Bohan

Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, has been a quiet yet powerful force in shaping the Bush administration's policies and helped build the case for the Iraq invasion.

Libby, indicted on Friday on charges of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice, has a scholar's demeanor and is known among colleagues for his analytical approach honed during years of work as an attorney.

Toiling long hours in his office in the building next to the West Wing of the White House, Libby steeps himself in subjects like counterterrorism, bioweapons defense and energy.

But the vice president's chief of staff also has a literary side -- he published a mystery novel, "The Apprentice," in 1996.

Set in rural Japan in 1903, the book was praised by Publishers Weekly for achieving "a sense of mystery and claustrophobia through pared-down prose and minimalist characterization."

Libby, 55, goes by his nickname, "Scooter," but many people also refer to him as Dick Cheney's Dick Cheney.

"He is to the vice president what the vice president is to the president," said Mary Matalin, who worked with Libby as an adviser to Cheney during Bush's first term.

She described Libby as a deep thinker and problem-solver who gives "discreet advice."

Libby shares the vice president's hawkish views on national security and his penchant for operating behind the scenes.

"He doesn't grandstand," said World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, Libby's friend and mentor.

Wolfowitz, former deputy defense secretary, said a major issue that Libby has focused on the past four years is the threat of a biological or chemical attack on the United States, a risk Cheney has often warned about in speeches.


Libby is known for a reluctance to being quoted in the press, but his private conversations with reporters caught the interest of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, lead investigator of the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

Plame's diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of outing his wife to discredit him for accusing the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the Iraq war in a New York Times opinion piece on July 6, 2003.

Times reporter Judith Miller, who recently testified in the leak investigation, spent 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal her source, who turned out to be Libby.

In the Iraq war's run-up, according to journalist Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack," Libby presented a document to top officials citing evidence of weapons of mass destruction and possible contacts between Iraqi officials and a ringleader of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The weapons were never found and the administration has since backed away from the idea of a connection between Saddam's government and the September 11 attacks.

Libby was given his nickname Scooter as a child after the Yankees baseball player Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto.

Born in Connecticut, Libby attended Phillips Academy, an elite private school in Massachusetts. He graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1972 and got a law degree from Columbia University three years later.

At Yale, Libby took a political-science course with Wolfowitz, who tapped him in 1981 to serve in the State Department in Reagan administration. Libby later served in the Pentagon under former President George Bush.

Wilson has said he believes Libby may have been part of a White House campaign to "smear" him.

Wolfowitz said Libby has never been "a rabidly partisan political type."

"There is a difference between people who focus on policy and people who believe it's my party right or wrong -- that's not Scooter," he said.

Before he worked for Cheney, Libby was a managing partner at the international law firm Dechert, Price and Rhoads.

Among Libby's more controversial clients was Marc Rich, the wealthy financier and fugitive who was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

In addition to his interest in creative writing, Libby, who is married and has two children, is also an avid skier.

A September letter sent to Miller in jail, which played a role in her decision to testify, showed Libby's literary side.

"You went to jail in summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to cover ...," he wrote. "Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work -- and life."

Fitzgerald seen as incorruptible - Yahoo! News

By Andrew Stern

Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor at the center of the investigation that indicted Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff on Friday, has relentlessly pursued politicians, mobsters and suspected terrorists.

Plucked from New York in 2001 to run the Chicago office of the Justice Department, the Brooklyn-born son of Irish immigrants, has a reputation as an incorruptible prosecutor in the mold of Chicago crime-fighter Eliot Ness, who took on Al Capone's criminal empire.

Fitzgerald has won convictions of the 1993 bombers of New York's World Trade Center and members of the Gambino crime family, and he secured an indictment of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, whom Fitzgerald has said he would like to try some day.

Fitzgerald was chosen in 2003 to investigate the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame to syndicated columnist Robert Novak after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, criticized the Iraq war. The probe has led to interviews with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and four sessions of grand jury testimony by Bush political guru Karl Rove.

Fitzgerald has angered some by getting high-profile reporters at Time magazine and The New York Times to testify about their anonymous sources under threat of jail.

The Times' Judith Miller was imprisoned for 85 days for contempt until Fitzgerald apparently interceded with her source, Cheney chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, to give her a personal waiver and allow her to testify about their conversations. Legal experts said Fitzgerald's advice to Libby edged perilously close to crossing the line to coercion.

Some of Fitzgerald's methods have drawn the ire of media watchdogs who believe he is treading on principles of freedom of the press and frightening off anonymous sources by demanding reporters' sources.

"Journalists should not have to face the prospect of imprisonment for doing nothing more than aggressively seeking to report on the government's actions," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times.

Fitzgerald was criticized in another case for scouring the telephone records of two Times reporters to seek out their sources after they supposedly compromised government raids on two Chicago-based Muslim charities charged with funneling money to Muslim fighters and al Qaeda.


Chicago defense lawyers have accused Fitzgerald of overzealous prosecutions of government bureaucrats on corruption and influence-peddling charges that they say amounts to criminalizing what they call business as usual.

"My sense is that 'business as usual' in Chicago politics is ripe for investigation," University of Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt said.

"My impression is that he's an extraordinarily well-respected and, indeed, a tough and aggressive prosecutor," Harcourt said of the 44-year-old Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald's office is prosecuting former Republican Illinois Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges, and another probe has reached into the upper echelons of Chicago Democratic Mayor Richard Daley's administration.

Described as a workaholic, Fitzgerald is known to awaken his prosecutors in the middle of the night with comments and questions.

He has bristled at any suggestion of political taint in his choice of prosecution targets, and professes to have no political allegiances or ambitions beyond his current job.

"As a prosecutor, you have two roles: Show judgment as to what to go after and how to go after it. But also, once you do that, to be zealous. And if you're not zealous, you shouldn't have the job. Now sometimes 'zealous' becomes a code word for overzealous and I don't want to be overzealous. I hope I'm not," Fitzgerald told The Washington Post in an interview.

New York Daily News - World & National Report - Spares selected if aides indicted


WASHINGTON - The White House was lining up replacements for two top aides yesterday in case they are indicted in the CIA leak investigation, sources said.
The term for the grand jury probing the unmasking of CIA spy Valerie Plame expires today, setting the stage for a decision in the two-year investigation.

The White House was on edge as President Bush's political guru, Karl Rove, and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, awaited word whether they will be indicted for leaking Plame's name to reporters.

A source familiar with Bush's worst-case plans said he would likely tap ex-GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie to replace Rove if he is indicted.

Also under consideration is bringing back former White House political director Ken Mehlman. He is the GOP chairman and is considered to be valuable to the Republicans for the upcoming midterm congressional elections.

If Libby is indicted, Cheney counsel David Addington will replace him as chief of staff, sources close to the Cheney's office say. Addington is another longtime Cheney aide who worked for him at the Pentagon.

"I wouldn't want to be Karl Rove, but I'm not sure if they have him," said a source familiar with the probe. "Libby is a different story. It looks bad for Scooter."

Even Cheney's role has come under greater scrutiny, but it was Rove who was making a final push to persuade special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he didn't break the law.

Rove attorney Robert Luskin prompted Fitzgerald to question ex-Bush aide Adam Levine this week to try to show Rove had not been shopping Plame's name to reporters.

Unless Fitzgerald makes a request to extend the grand jury, the panel will end its inquiry today. He could also empanel a new grand jury.

The grand jury can adjourn without taking any action, or it can hand up indictments if it finds probable cause that crimes were committed. Fitzgerald has been pursuing charges ranging from knowingly exposing a covert agent and leaking classified information to conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice.

Bush and Cheney were questioned in the probe, and more than two dozen administration officials appeared before the grand jury or were interviewed under oath by investigators, according to The Hotline, a leading monitor of news media.

Sources: Rove Won't Be Indicted Today - Yahoo! News

By JOHN SOLOMON and PETE YOST, Associated Press Writers

Karl Rove escaped indictment in the CIA leak case Friday but remained under investigation as the embattled White House braced for charges against Vice President Dick Cheney's top adviser.

Trying to put a brave face on one of the darkest days of his presidency, Bush traveled to Norfolk, Va., to deliver a speech on terrorism. "Thanks for the chance to get out of Washington," he said.

Rove's lawyer said he was told by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's office that investigators had "made no decision about whether or not to bring charges" and would continue their probe into Rove's conduct. Rove is deputy White House chief of staff and Bush's closest adviser.

The news was far less favorable for Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. White House colleagues expected an indictment charging Libby with false statements in the probe.

Fitzgerald scheduled a 2 p.m. EDT news conference in Washington. His office planned to release documents in the case two hours before his appearance.

Some lawyers have raised the specter of broader conspiracy charges. Any trial would shine a spotlight on the secret deliberations of Bush and his team as they built the case for war against Iraq.

Bush ordered U.S. troops to war in March 2003, saying Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program posed a grave and immediate threat to the United States. No such weapons were found. The U.S. military death toll climbed past 2,000 this week.

Fitzgerald and his investigators have been trying to determine whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame or lied about their involvement to investigators. Her husband is diplomat Joseph Wilson, an opponent of the Iraq war who challenged Bush's assertion that Saddam was trying to secure nuclear materials.

The lack of an indictment against Rove is a mixed outcome for the administration. It keeps in place the president's top adviser, the architect of his political machine whose fingerprints can be found on virtually every policy that emerges from the White House.

But leaving Rove in legal jeopardy keeps Bush and his team working on problems like the Iraq war, a Supreme Court vacancy and slumping poll ratings beneath a dark cloud of uncertainty.

Libby is considered Cheney's alter ego, a chief architect of the war with Iraq. Any trial of Libby would give the public a rare glimpse into Cheney's influential role in the West Wing and his behind-the-scenes lobbying for war.

Though he has worked in relative obscurity, Libby is one of the administration's influential advisers because of his proximity to Cheney, one of the most powerful vice presidents in history.

Rove, who testified four times before the CIA leaks grand jury, has stepped back from some of his political duties such as speaking at fundraisers but is said to be otherwise immersed in his sweeping portfolio as deputy White House chief of staff.

After weeks of hand-wringing about possible indictments in the investigation, Before he left for the speech on terrorism in Norfolk, the president chatted with Cheney and Rove in the Oval Office along with smiling aides.

Cheney traveled to Georgia to speak at a luncheon for a former congressman and to address the troops at Robins Air Force Base.

"If the special prosecutor has any announcement to make then I think you could expect that we'll have more to say after that," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said, "Mr. Rove will continue to cooperate fully with the special counsel's efforts to complete the investigation. We are confident that when the special counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong."

Rove's legal problems stem in part from the fact that he failed initially to disclose to prosecutors a conversation in which he told Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper that Plame worked for the CIA. Rove says the conversation slipped his mind.

Senior Republicans inside and outside the White House have wondered whether the case has been a distraction for Rove. They point to the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, which was derailed by conservative activists, many of them allies of Rove. He helped build Bush's political career on the strength of ties to the religious conservative movement.

Both charming and sharp-tongued, Rove is well liked by his colleagues and respected by his opponents, a take-no-prisoners political operative who is steadfastly loyal to his boss and relentlessly partisan in his approach. He didn't graduate from college, but is one of the most well-read White House advisers. He spent most of his career in Texas, but quickly established himself as a Washington insider.

White House credibility has been on the line from the start. Spokesman Scott McClellan, after checking with Rove and Libby, assured reporters that neither man was involved in the leak. Months later, reports surfaced that suggested they were involved.

On July 7, the president told reporters that if anyone in his administration committed a crime in connection with the leak, that person "will no longer work in my administration." Weeks later, he backpedaled from that assertion.

Columnist Robert Novak revealed Plame's name and her CIA status on July 14, 2003. That was five days after Novak talked to Rove and eight days after Plame's husband, former ambassador Wilson, published an opinion article in the Times accusing the Bush administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq.

Wilson has accused the White House of revealing his wife's identify to undercut his allegations against Bush.

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)

Rove, Libby Prepare for Possible Indictments

Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 28, 2005; A01

The White House, District Court officials and two potential targets of the CIA leak investigation were making preparations yesterday for the possible announcement of indictments by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald today, according to several sources familiar with the investigation.

Two sources said I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, was shopping for a white-collar criminal lawyer amid expectations of those close to the case that he might be indicted for providing false statements or other charges.

At the same time, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove began assembling a public relations team in the event that he is indicted. The New York Times reported last night that Rove would not be charged today but would remain under investigation.

At the White House, aides scrambled to put the finishing touches on a political strategy to respond to the fallout from any criminal charges, including the likelihood of staff changes. A Republican consultant with close White House ties said Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had canceled at least two trips in the past week and had met with Bush over the weekend to focus on how to react to the grand jury's decisions.

"These will be very, very dark days for the White House," the consultant quoted Card as saying.

At the U.S. courthouse here, where Fitzgerald will meet with the grand jury for what is expected to be the final time, there was a rush of activity. Court staff made preparations to quickly produce scores of copies of documents for waiting reporters.

Still, the penultimate day of the 22-month probe ended with the same mystery that has kept much of Washington, including some of the possible targets and lawyers in the case, on edge about Fitzgerald's plans.

The special counsel set out in late 2003 to investigate whether anyone in the Bush administration illegally disclosed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame as part of an effort to discredit her husband, outspoken Iraq war critic and former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

But officials close to Rove and Libby said the two high-level aides seem more concerned about being charged with making false statements to the grand jury, an area in which Fitzgerald has shown great interest as the case comes to a close. People close to Rove said the senior Bush strategist and his legal team have worked assiduously in the past week to convince Fitzgerald that Rove did not mislead the grand jury.

Fitzgerald has a number of legal options. They range from concluding that no one broke the law, to charging a number of government officials with a conspiracy to unmask Plame or obstruct justice during the investigation. But it was hard to find anyone involved in the case yesterday who believed Fitzgerald will not indict someone today.

It was unclear yesterday whether Fitzgerald had issued formal letters notifying anyone that he or she was a target of the investigation. However, that step might not be necessary for Libby or Rove, who previously have been warned verbally that they face possible legal jeopardy.

Though there was speculation among lawyers for witnesses in the case that Fitzgerald could choose to empanel a new grand jury and extend his investigation, two legal sources said he is eager to not take that route and would prefer to wrap up the case today.

Anticipating the worst, White House aides juggled two of the most damaging events of the Bush presidency yesterday: the withdrawal of Harriet Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court and the conclusion of the leak probe. Two top aides said they were given no indication by Bush, Cheney, Rove or Libby about charges, complicating efforts to firm up a political plan. The White House, one aide said, is "ready for anything."

The consultant who spoke with Card said Bush should bring in several people of stature to replace weary veteran staffers who work there now -- even if Rove survives. Rove himself was making contingency plans, which included having allies begin to assemble a legal and political team in case he is indicted.

Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, would be part of the public relations defense team, according to a person familiar with the plan. Corallo is no stranger to high-profile defenses. He was spokesman for former representative Bob Livingston (R-La.), who was forced to step aside as the incoming speaker of the House in 1998 after admitting an extramarital affair.

Two sources said Libby was searching for a criminal defense attorney, an effort that could be nothing more than a precaution or preparations for what might lie ahead, according to one person close to him. His current lawyer, Joseph A. Tate, specializes in intellectual property, criminal and antitrust law, according to a national legal directory.

Both Libby and Rove attended regular White House strategy sessions yesterday, betraying no sense of whether they anticipate charges.

Even if the outcome is not as bad as some expect, two administration aides said they are prepared for months of attacks over the leak of Plame's name and the broader justification for the Iraq war.

Rove has told friends he is most concerned about being charged with providing false statements because he did not initially tell the grand jury about a conversation he had with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper about Plame and her CIA employment before her identity was publicly disclosed.

Libby, who has emerged as a main focus of the investigation, also faces possible legal exposure for providing false statements, according to lawyers in the case.

Libby could face charges if the grand jury agrees there is probable cause he intentionally gave shifting accounts of how he learned about Plame or the details of his conversations with reporters about Plame. Libby, a major administration supporter of the war with Iraq, has testified that he believed he learned about Plame from reporters, and named Tim Russert of NBC as a person who mentioned Plame to him, according to a source familiar with his account.

Russert has said in a public statement that he did not name Plame to anyone. Also, as the New York Times reported this week, Libby's notes of a June 12 meeting with Cheney indicate that he learned of Plame's name and role in the CIA from Cheney.

Libby has testified that he did not identify Plame by name to reporters or discuss her covert status with them. But New York Times reporter Judith Miller has testified that she believed she first learned of Plame's CIA job from Libby, when the two spoke on June 23, 2003. Miller said she and Libby discussed Plame again in a meeting on July 8, 2003, and in a phone conversation a few days later, on July 12.

Staff writer Jeffrey H. Birnbaum contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company A 'brain' drain if Rove goes

Ellis Henican

October 28, 2005

So this is what happens when Karl Rove is otherwise occupied:

FEMA fumbles Katrina.

Harriet Miers collapses, supremely.

And people keep noticing that soldiers keep dying in Iraq.

No wonder George W. Bush now has an approval rating almost as low as the Asian bird flu's! His most trusted political adviser hasn't been whispering in his ear day and night!

Karl Rove, architect of the president's campaign victories and deputy chief of staff - "Bush's brain," some in Washington like to call him - has had his own big troubles to worry about. Instead of watching his boss' back like he used to, Rove has been struggling to protect his own endangered butt.

Blame Patrick Fitzgerald for this. The Republican special counsel, who has been investigating the leak of a CIA agent's name, is finally finishing his two-year probe.

Indictments could very well be announced this morning.

And two names are most likely to be typed near the top of Page 1: Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's hard-charging chief of staff, and Karl Rove.

Just watch what happens if either becomes an "alleged felon:" He'll be bum-rushed out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. quicker than Hillary Clinton from a Federalist Society brunch.

And that's pretty quick.

Deep personal loyalty is one thing Bush is famous for. Risking his own fragile legacy to stand by an indicted aide is not.

Libby and Rove arrived for work as usual at the White House yesterday. Rove attended the senior staff meeting, like he always does. Libby was tied up in a national security briefing.

They wore nice suits. They exchanged polite greetings with the staff. And nobody was fooled by any of it. This was the eve of destruction. All anyone else could do was duck.

Back when the Monica Lewinsky scandal was set to explode, Clinton administration officials used to claim all was "business as usual" in the White House. No one believed them either.

It's actually hard to imagine the next three years of the Bush administration without the crafty mind and nimble arm twists of Karl Rove. Not just Karl Rove distracted. Even worse. Karl Rove gone.

Who will bollix the Democrats in Congress? Who will placate the Religious Right? Who will think for the president?

Democrats, so often beaten by Rove, will take their chances - and hope for the best. As far as they're concerned, they'll take upheaval over order any day.

We've all gotten a glimpse of it these past few weeks, and the view has not been pretty. The administration has stumbled from crisis to crisis, greeting each new one with another tone-deaf response.

The Miers nomination, which fell apart so spectacularly, was only the latest. Of course, Rove had little to do with choosing her. He's much too shrewd to have flubbed like that.

Miers was the president's personal choice. In consultation with his wife, Laura, Bush picked a crony - his personal lawyer and the White House counsel. He was sure her paper-thin resume and murky views would be overlooked beside his dazzling endorsement.

"I know her heart," he said.

Which was like applying for college and telling the admissions committee: "No, I didn't take the SAT ... No, you can't see my high-school grades ... But here's a fine letter of recommendation from a very important guy. Won't that be enough?"

Uh, maybe not.

But the Miers mess wasn't the only Rove-less malfunction in the past few weeks. It's been one glitch after another with "Bush's brain" on the fritz.

Like the 2,000th dead-soldier milestone this week in Iraq. Pentagon officials pleaded that the number meant nothing. In fact, it was pounded in the media and by the growing chorus of war foes. Support for the war dipped even more.

The Katrina fiasco was another huge misstep. Washington took four days to deliver the first bottle of water to a desperate New Orleans, while Bush heaped praise on the incompetent FEMA boss: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

If this is the result of a distracted Karl Rove, mark my words: Things will be even dicier if the man is actually gone.
Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc. - At Root of Leak Probe Is Prewar Dispute

CIA-White House Clash Over Intelligence
Set Stage for Fitzgerald's Investigation
October 28, 2005

WASHINGTON -- At the root of the investigation into the leaking of the identity of a CIA operative is a feud between the Central Intelligence Agency and the White House over whether top administration officials politicized intelligence information in the buildup to the Iraq war.

With charges likely to be filed as early as today, the ripple effects of that feud are still being felt. The same tension over prewar intelligence that led to the leaking of a CIA operative's identity also led to finger-pointing between the agency and the White House and contributed to a decision to reorganize the intelligence community and put the CIA under new White House oversight. Dozens of senior CIA analysts and covert operatives, including the No. 2 at the Directorate of Operations -- the agency's clandestine network -- have in recent months left the Langley, Va., offices, often to higher wages in the private sector.

Now some intelligence professionals think indictments might help clear the air by effectively penalizing administration aides for intruding into intelligence matters and prompting the White House to tread more carefully. And that, say current and former intelligence officials, might embolden the CIA to be more forceful in its analysis, without fearing information would be twisted.

Any indictments would be a "huge deal ... because they will help restore hope that the system works," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and counterterrorism official at the State Department.

Pressed by Congress to revamp the nation's intelligence agencies after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Mr. Bush this year created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, putting intelligence agencies under one roof. The director, John Negroponte, has been stripping out some units of the CIA and placing them under his direct control. He has also been seeking to institute standard procedures across the intelligence community, such as ways to handle clandestine agents.

The White House says the new structure will allow the nation's intelligence bodies to better share information and assist law-enforcement agencies. Administration officials also say it has better positioned the U.S. government to gather intelligence overseas and at home.

On Wednesday, Mr. Negroponte announced new strategic guidelines for America's 15 intelligence agencies, stressing the need to spread democracy to combat terrorism. "Our feeling is that we must change the way we do business," Mr. Negroponte said in a briefing.

Still, some inside the intelligence community see the changes as unwarranted attacks on their operations. They also see it as adding another level of bureaucracy that impairs quick response to terrorist threats.

"There's been a huge wedge between what the analysts think and what the Bush administration wants them to say," said Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA's special unit targeting Osama bin Laden before quitting in 2004.

Some in the intelligence community have criticized Mr. Bush's promotion of Porter Goss, a former congressman and CIA official, to oversee the restructuring of the CIA. Critics say Mr. Goss brought senior-level aides and an aloof management style that didn't mesh with the CIA's culture, and failed to restore the confidence of the U.S.'s principal intelligence body.

Resentment between the CIA and the White House, though, goes back to the earliest days of the Bush administration. The White House -- and some members of Congress -- blamed U.S. intelligence agencies for al Qaeda's Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But even before those strikes, a number of senior White House officials sought to brand the CIA as soft in its analysis and unwilling to offer more clear-cut views on the threats to America.

The leak case grew out of tensions within the CIA itself, and between the CIA and other parts of the Bush administration, over whether intelligence showed Iraq had or was seeking weapons of mass destruction. The administration used that specter in its justification for invading Iraq. George Tenet, then director of the CIA, in some cases helped assure the White House there was a good case that Iraq had such a weapons program, but some of his own analysts had different conclusions. The dissenting views within the CIA frustrated officials in the Pentagon and White House and led to a feeling during the lead-up to the war that agency analysts were too skeptical of evidence of Iraqi wrongdoing.

At the time, some foreign intelligence reports suggested Iraq had tried to acquire uranium yellowcake, an essential ingredient in nuclear weapons, in Africa. Mr. Cheney and others in his office, including Mr. Libby, wanted more information from the CIA about the veracity of the reports. Mr. Cheney's request for details led the CIA to dispatch former diplomat Joseph Wilson, husband of CIA operative Valerie Plame, to Niger to investigate the claims. It was the leaking of Ms. Plame's identity in July 2003 that led to the current probe.

Some in the intelligence community predict that any initial indictments will snowball into broader investigations of the alleged mishandling of intelligence information by the White House and Pentagon. Recent probes into the government's intelligence failures -- such as the 9/11 Commission's and the Silbermann-Robb investigation into Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons-of-mass-destruction programs -- discounted political pressure as a root cause. But some retired intelligence operatives say the special prosecutor's report may cause these assumptions to be re-examined.

"Many people will feel vindicated," said Patrick Lang, a former head of human intelligence collection at the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, who has regular contact with many active analysts and agents. "There's a deep sense of satisfaction among those who were pressured [on intelligence issues] but were told not to say they were pressured."