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

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Libby Said to Concoct Story in Leak Case - Yahoo! News

By LARRY MARGASAK and PETE YOST, Associated Press Writers
1 hour, 21 minutes ago

The prosecution's conclusion: Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff zealously pursued information about a critic who said the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to make the case for war.

The view of the president and vice president: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is a dedicated public servant who has worked tirelessly on behalf of his country.

Is Libby an influential White House adviser who lied? Or is he a man with a hectic schedule who happens to remember events differently from the reporters and administration figures who will eventually be called to testify against him?

"As lawyers, we recognize that a person's recollection and memory of events will not always match those of other people, particularly when they are asked to testify months after the events occurred," Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, said in a statement.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald drew his detailed portrait of Libby based on a two-year investigation that pulled dozens of witnesses in for questioning, including President Bush and Cheney.

Libby, the indictment against him concludes, received information from Cheney, the State Department and the CIA about covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose husband was attacking an administration unable to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Libby then spread the information to reporters and later concocted a story that his information had come from reporters, the indictment says.

The other portrait of Libby, the favorable version, shows a deeply committed conservative who has been a player on the Washington scene since the early days of the Reagan administration.

Libby left the White House for the last time Friday, departing after seeing some of the ideas he and others championed become administration policy.

In 1992, Libby and former Pentagon deputy Paul Wolfowitz wrote a paper favoring the use of pre-emptive force to prevent countries from developing weapons of mass destruction. The paper later won praise from the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, which called it "a blueprint for maintaining U.S. pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival."

Notwithstanding Fitzgerald's insistence Friday that the criminal case is not about Iraq, he probably will seek to cast Libby as an architect of the U.S.-led invasion, said Scott Fredericksen, a former prosecutor who now represents white-collar defendants.

The prosecution will call Libby "a very bright guy at the highest levels of government with motivation to prevent Fitzgerald and the grand jury from learning the true source" of Libby's information about administration critic Joseph Wilson.

After the indictment, Cheney issued words of praise in Washington but made no mention of his departing chief of staff on a trip later in the day to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. Cheney's speech to base personnel was on terrorism, the topic that, along with Iraq, has consumed his and Libby's time and energy.

"This is nothing new for a White House having to counter its critics, particularly when the administration believes the criticism to be false," said Washington lawyer Michael Madigan, a former Republican counsel in the Senate investigation of Clinton-era campaign fund-raising abuses. "The trouble the White House encountered in this case is that some of the information was classified."

If he were representing Libby, lawyer David Schertler said he would present character witnesses to testify about Libby's dedication to public service.

"This guy, every day, deals with some of the most important issues facing the American people," said Schertler, a former federal prosecutor. "You're asking him to recollect conversations, some fairly short, and he's giving his best recollections. Maybe he didn't remember correctly, but he didn't have the intent to deceive the special prosecutor or grand jury."

Fitzgerald's probe initially sought to determine whether anyone in the administration violated the law by knowingly disclosing the identity of a covert CIA employee.

"You didn't have that, so why did you charge him?" Schertler suggested Libby's defense would assert.

Fitzgerald spent 22 months on the investigation at a cost of more than $1 million. In the end, Libby was charged with five felonies alleging obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.

The starting point was Bush's claim in his State of the Union address in January 2003 that Saddam Hussein had tried to acquire uranium from the African nation of Niger as part of an effort to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Bush took the country to war with Iraq in March 2003, saying Saddam's banned weapons program threatened the U.S. When no such weapons turned up, the administration was put on the defensive.

Wilson, a former ambassador, had gone to Niger in 2002 for the CIA to investigate the uranium claim. He found no evidence to back up an allegation of a sales agreement between Iraq and Niger. Wilson's wife, Plame, was the covert CIA officer whose name was leaked in July 2003 as the debate about the war heated up.

The indictment alleges Libby had information from at least seven government officials, including the vice president, about Plame and her CIA status. Libby said he heard it first from reporters. The indictment said Libby spread the information to the media.

Fitzgerald summed up the charges:

"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 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 afterward, under oath and repeatedly."

Libby's case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, nominated by Bush in 2001. / World / US - 'Indispensable' Rove not yet off the hook

>By Caroline Danielin Washington
>Published: October 29 2005 03:00 | Last updated: October 29 2005 03:00
Ever since the name of his wife, a covert CIA agent, was made public two years ago, Joseph Wilson has sought political revenge. He openly fantasised that Karl Rove would be "frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs".

He may have to wait a little longer. Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, yesterday did not indict Mr Rove, chief political strategist to President George W. Bush, who has testified before the grand jury four times during the investigation.

But Mr Rove is not yet off the hook. His lawyers were told that Mr Fitzgerald "had made no decision about whether or not to bring charges".

Mr Rove's lawyer said his client would continue to co-operate with the inquiry.

For White House officials who had hoped the indictments would end the distractions and tensions that have dogged the administration in recent weeks, the move to extend the grand jury is hardly an ideal outcome.

In the past few weeks Mr Rove has become less high- profile cancelling several fundraising speeches for the Republican party. In spite of his role in co-ordinating domestic policy, he was not involved in the selection this week of Ben Bernanke as the successor to Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Although Mr Rove is technically just deputy chiefof staff, that obscures his real status. If not as omniscient as some of the apo-cryphal tales suggest, he is certainly ubiquitous. He once joked that the only domestic issue he was not involved in was baseball.

"He is a truly indispen-sable man," said David Frum, a former speechwriter for Mr Bush and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "The distraction over the past weeks with Hurricane Katrina and Harriet Miers shows White House decision-making without him. There would bea real talent gap in the administration. He is one of the few who had 'the clearest vision of what he is trying to accomplish and was always focused on something bigger than managing his inbox'."

Although friends deny he has been distracted, the bungled handling of the Harriet Miers nomination - which was withdrawn on Thursday amid fierce criticism from conservatives and doubts from senators about her qualifications - suggests that there could be more fallout if the investigation continues to hamper Mr Rove.

Any indictment would be a devastating personal blow for Mr Bush, who has worked with Mr Rove for 30 years, and Mr Rove, for whom politics is a lifelong obsession. As Mark McKinnon, a former campaign adviser to Mr Bush obser-ved, "when Karl was growing up he wanted to be senior adviser to the president".

He will remain that for some time. But for how long, remains in the hands of Mr Fitzgerald.


CBS News | Wilson: There Have Been Threats | October 28, 2005�22:30:05

CBS) Joe Wilson, whose wife’s unmasking as a CIA agent is at the center of the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation, said today that that his wife, Valerie Plame, has been threatened. Wilson talks to 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley, in his first interview since Fitzgerald announced the indictment of I. Lewis Libby, Sunday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

"There have been specific threats [against Plame]. Beyond that I just can’t go," Wilson tells Bradley. Wilson says he and his wife have discussed security for her with "several agencies."

Former CIA colleagues say that by revealing her identity, harm could be caused to the CIA’s agents and operations. "If a CIA agent is exposed, then everyone coming in contact with that agent is exposed," says Jim Marcinkowski, a former CIA agent who trained with Plame at the top-secret Virginia facility known as "the Farm." "There is a possibility that there were other agents that would use that same kind of a cover. So they may have been using Brewster Jennings just like her," said Marcinkowski, referring to the fictional firm the CIA set up as her cover that also came out when journalists, including Robert Novak, disclosed it.

Marcinkowski also points out, "[Plame] is the wife of an ambassador, for example. Now, since this happened…they’ll know there’s a possibility that the wife of a U.S. ambassador is a CIA agent."

Another friend, once a covert CIA operative, says people who say Plame wasn’t in a sensitive position need to understand how intricate a cover story is, regardless of what an agent is working on. "Cover is…for a clandestine officer, can be different things at different times. We change cover. We modify cover based on how we need it. But that cover is linked together," she tells Bradley. "If you start to unravel one part of that, you can unravel the whole thing."

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., a former intelligence analyst and member of the House Intelligence Committee, agrees. "I think any time the identity of a covert agent is released, there is some damage -- and it’s serious." Holt says it’s possible agents overseas could be arrested or even killed, but "if there were, and I’d been briefed on it, I couldn’t talk about it," he tells Bradley. He did say he has been assured the CIA was mitigating the effects of the leak. "They have taken the usual procedures to protect the damage from spreading."

Those procedures began the moment Valerie Plame learned her cover was blown. Upon finding out about the leak of her name, "she felt like she'd been hit in the stomach. It took her breath away," said Wilson. Then she methodically went to work, he says, "making lists of what she had to do to ensure that her assets, her projects, her programs and her operations were protected."

Wilson tells Bradley, contrary to reports that many knew Plame was in the CIA, that only he and three other people knew. "Well, very few people outside the intelligence community [knew she was CIA]. Her parents and her brother, essentially," says Wilson.

Bush Looks to Bounce Back From Bad News - Yahoo! News

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer

How does George W. Bush find the path to recovery after a week of bad news staggered his presidency?

The week that was: conservatives in the president's own party hounded him into withdrawing Harriet Miers' Supreme Court nomination; the U.S. death toll in Iraq surpassed 2,000; and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was indicted by a federal grand jury.

The aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, is accused of lying about his role in blowing the CIA cover of an Iraq war critic's wife. The charges grew out of an investigation that was the product of the fierce debate two years ago over Bush's contention that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Cheney and Libby were two of the administration's leading lobbyists for the U.S.-led invasion, and the indictment could remind Americans increasingly unhappy with the war that the president's primary justification for it turned out to be false. A Libby trial could see the famously secretive vice president called as a witness and asked to answer embarrassing questions.

Though top presidential adviser Karl Rove was spared for now, the future of one of Bush's most powerful advisers also remained in jeopardy.

Already, Bush was struggling with his lowest-ever approval ratings, dragged down by high gas prices and a bungled response to Hurricane Katrina along with the public's growing unrest over Iraq.

Miers' nomination was only the most recent example of Republicans' willingness to distance themselves from the president. Bush's signature domestic priority for the year, a Social Security overhaul, was shelved after an aggressive push by the president yielded little support for action even among Republicans. Just this month, California's GOP governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, skipped a Bush fundraiser in Los Angeles and Jerry Kilgore, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, stayed away from a presidential speech in Norfolk on Friday.

Some are calling for bold strokes — a broad new agenda, a purging of the president's tired and perhaps overly insular and loyal staff — to jolt the White House past its troubles.

A former White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official still provides regular advice, said Bush needs "moves of conscience and conviction" that evoke the leadership abilities that helped get him re-elected.

Some Republicans inside and outside the White House were angered by Bush's handling of Libby's exit. They viewed it as a missed opportunity to restore badly needed credibility because the president neither condemned the aide's actions nor acknowledged that White House spokesman Scott McClellan had said categorically in 2003 that Libby was not involved in the leak.

Bush and his aides considered the political benefits of such statements, according to a senior administration official, who spoke confidentially so as to not be seen discussing internal deliberations. But the idea was rejected out of concern the president's words could influence the legal process. Bush instead merely called the charges "serious" and urged against a rush to judgment. He and Cheney both praised Libby for his public service.

Democrats, though, indicated they will not let people forget that Bush campaigned in 2000 on a promise to "restore honor and dignity" to a White House sullied by Clinton-era scandals.

"President Bush faces a serious test of leadership," said Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. "Will he keep his pledge to hold his administration to high ethical standards and give the American people what they deserve, and will he answer to the American people for these serious missteps?"

At the White House, the short-term strategy is little changed by the recent events.

Bush will focus for the remainder of the year on pushing Congress to fund Katrina recovery while reigning in nonmilitary spending, renewing the Patriot Act, and making preparations for a possible bird flu or other pandemic. The president plans to highlight political progress in Iraq and U.S. economic growth in an effort to convince a skeptical public that things are better than they seem on both fronts, officials said.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett said it was an "almost a back-to-basics type of approach to governing" that is designed to show people that the president is taking concrete action on things that matter to their lives.

"I got a job to do and so do the people who work in the White House," Bush said in reaction to Libby's indictment.

Grover Norquist, the president of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform who is close to the White House, said Bush is on the right track. "You don't need any Hail Mary passes at this point," he said.

All agree that Bush must make a quick and sound selection for the Supreme Court now that Miers no longer is in line to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. With an announcement expected soon, White House officials and their allies had great hopes it would steal space from the bad news, heal the rift with conservatives that the Miers nomination caused and regain momentum for Bush.

Norquist said that will happen if Bush names someone with a clear record of conservative credentials. "We will get a completely unified right," Norquist said. "Bygones are bygones."

Aides also hope Bush will benefit from his schedule. Foreign policy will dominate much of Bush's attention as he spends much of November traveling to South America and Asia.

Bush dislikes reacting to the kind of advice from punditry that has been so plentiful in recent weeks. So more comprehensive changes to the White House agenda, whether a staff shake-up or bold new ideas, probably will wait until next year.

At the same time, the president intends to return as planned in the new year to priorities such as overhauling Social Security, simplifying the tax laws and addressing immigration.

Meantime, a replacement must be found for Libby, the Cheney alter-ego and influential White House player whose departure leaves a huge gap in the vice president's staff.

Among those discussed as top contenders are Cheney's counsel, David Addington; the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman; and Dean McGrath, Cheney's deputy chief of staff.

Bush aims to move past leak case - Yahoo! News

By Caren Bohan

President George W. Bush, trying to move beyond the damage caused by the indictment of a senior White House aide in the CIA leak probe, said on Saturday that Iraq was taking steps toward democracy that will help isolate militants.

A day after Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, resigned following a five-count indictment, Bush focused his weekly radio address on the results of Iraq's October 15 vote on a U.S.-backed constitution.

Bush called Tuesday's announcement of the charter's approval a milestone, but did not mention that on the same day the U.S. military death toll in Iraq surpassed 2,000.

Nor did he mention the CIA leak case.

"Just 30 months removed from the rule of a dictator, and nine months after they first elected their own leaders, the Iraqi people are resolving tough issues through an inclusive political process," Bush said.

"And this process is isolating the extremists who wish to derail democracy through violence and murder."

The approval of the constitution, which was strongly supported by Shiites and Kurds in Iraq but rejected by many minority Sunni Arabs, will pave the way for a December 15 election to shape a new parliament.

The crossing of the 2,000 threshold of U.S. military deaths adds to Bush's political woes at home, where his approval rating has fallen to all-time lows.

The investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity has its roots in the Iraq war.

Plame's husband, former U.S. diplomat Joe Wilson, had accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence when officials cited a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 U.S. invasion. No such weapons were found.

Lewis Libby was indicted on charges of obstructing justice, perjury and lying and is accused of making false statements about how and when he learned and disclosed to reporters classified information about Plame.

Bush said the leak case was serious and but added he wanted to remain "wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country" as the investigation proceeds.

Another piece of business he will be turning his attention to will be picking a new Supreme Court nominee after the withdrawal of his long-time friend and White House counsel Harriet Miers.

The Miers nomination prompted a rebellion of Bush's conservative political base as critics questioned her qualifications for the job.

Bush is spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat and shared a long hug with his wife Laura as he arrived there Friday afternoon at the end of a brutal week for him politically.

Cheney's office at center of CIA leak indictment - Yahoo! News

By James Vicini and Adam Entous

The indictment of former top White House aide Lewis Libby in the CIA leak investigation will put Vice President Dick Cheney's office at the center of court proceedings, with the potential of a politically damaging trial for the beleaguered Bush administration.

Libby, who resigned on Friday as Cheney's chief of staff after being indicted for obstructing justice, perjury and lying, is expected to make his first court appearance in the next week or so for an arraignment.

The indictment means the next stage of the case will play out in open court, in contrast to the secret two-year grand jury investigation directed by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity.

Libby's indictment represented the first criminal charges arising from the investigation, and Fitzgerald said the probe would continue. One key figure still under scrutiny is President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, lawyers involved in the case said.

At the arraignment, Libby, 55, who faces up to 30 years in prison, is expected to plead not guilty, and the judge in the case could set a trial date.

Lawyers involved in the case said Cheney himself and other top White House officials named in the indictment could be called as witnesses. A trial could expose the role played by Cheney's secretive office in seeking to discredit a leading critic of the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war.

"It's a horrible situation for the vice president. Libby has been so close to Cheney," said one of the lawyers involved in the case. "If there's one thing that's got to be open, it is a criminal trial and the vice president is a key witness."

Another lawyer said it is clear from the indictment that any trial would have to delve into the private conversations between Cheney and Libby about the CIA operative, Valerie Plame, and her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson. Wilson had challenged the administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq.


The prosecutors will seek to prove that Libby's statements are lies by going through a very detailed chronology of the events that occurred in the vice president's office, including conversations with Cheney, one of the lawyers said.

"It has the potential to be politically damaging," the lawyer said. "What exactly were they doing in that office in their discussions about Wilson?"

According to the indictment, Libby learned from Cheney himself on June 12, 2003, that Wilson's wife worked in the counterproliferation division of the CIA.

The White House is already reeling from the mounting U.S. death toll from the Iraq war, the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina and from the withdrawal of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, under fire from Bush's conservative power base.

The charges accused 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.

Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, promised a vigorous defense to the charges. "As lawyers, we recognize that a person's recollection of events will not always match those of other people, particularly when they are asked to testify months after the events occurred," Tate said.

"This is especially true in the hectic rush of issues and events at a busy time for our government," he said.

Wilson's attorney has been considering whether to bring a civil lawsuit against Libby and any others who may have been involved in the leak of his wife's identity.

Looking ahead, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "At this point it's important that we don't prejudice the opportunity for there to be a fair and impartial trial."

He added, "I think the special counsel indicated in his remarks he wanted to move as quickly as possible. I think all of us would like to see that happen."

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: The major players, the major plotline

By The Christian Science Monitor

For almost two years, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has led an investigation to determine whether anyone acted illegally when the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame was made public. After hearing testimony from some of Washington's most powerful figures, a grand jury is expected to issue indictments today.

Here are some key questions about the case.

How did this affair begin?

At its heart lie questions about the Bush administration's case for war against Iraq. On Jan. 28, 2003, in his State of the Union address, President Bush included these 16 words: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

The implication was that Iraq was developing a nuclear-weapons program. But U.S. intelligence officials had by then expressed doubts about that claim. In July 2003, Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador to two African countries and Iraq, wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times disputing Bush's statement.

The CIA, he wrote, sent him to Niger in 2002 to determine if Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Africa. He concluded no. One week after Wilson's piece appeared, syndicated columnist Robert Novak reported that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked as "an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."

At issue is whether Novak's government sources blew her cover as a CIA agent, in violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.

That law aims to protect the identities of "certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources." Wilson has claimed that White House officials leaked his wife's CIA role to the press as revenge for his criticism of the president's case against Iraq. Others say the sources were merely steering journalists away from Wilson's allegations.

Why have two senior White House officials — Bush's top adviser, Karl Rove, and Vice Presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby — faced such intense scrutiny?

In grand-jury testimony, several journalists revealed that one or both men had spoken to them about Wilson's wife and her employment.

Toward the end of the investigation, it has become clear that Fitzgerald has focused more on possible charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements, rather than on laws prohibiting public revelation of a CIA official's undercover status. Rove testified four times and Libby twice.

How wide was the investigation?

As special prosecutor, Fitzgerald has the task of investigating the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee's identity. The Department of Justice later clarified that he had authority to investigate any crimes committed in the course of the inquiry, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence and intimidation of witnesses.

In all, three dozen people either appeared before the grand jury or were interviewed by the FBI or Fitzgerald. The special prosecutor interviewed both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney last year, but not under oath.

Key individuals who testified late in the process include Cheney aides John Hannah, an expert on weapons of mass destruction, and David Wurmser, a Middle East adviser.

Among the press, Matt Cooper of Time magazine, Judith Miller of The New York Times, Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post and Tim Russert of NBC News all testified. Novak is widely assumed to have cooperated with prosecutors, though he has not commented publicly on the case.

What was Cheney's role?

Libby learned about Wilson's wife from his boss, the vice president, before her identity had been made public, according to notes Libby took during the conversation and which were described to The New York Times by lawyers involved in the case.

It is not illegal for Libby and Cheney to discuss classified information; they both have security clearance. But the Libby-Cheney conversation contradicts reports of Libby's testimony, in which he is said to have stated that he first learned of Wilson's wife, and her employment, from reporters.

Indictment doesn't clear up mystery at heart of CIA leak probe

By Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - At the heart of Friday's indictment of a top White House aide remain two unsolved mysteries.

Who forged the documents that claimed Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium for nuclear weapons in the African country of Niger?

How did a version of the tale get into President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, even though U.S. intelligence agencies never confirmed it and some intelligence analysts doubted it?

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who found no substance to the alleged deal during a CIA-sponsored trip to Niger, accused Bush in July 2003 of twisting the intelligence.

Shortly thereafter, the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a covert CIA officer, was leaked to journalists, igniting special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's probe.

The FBI has been investigating the clumsy forgeries, which first surfaced in Rome in October 2002, for two years, but has made little progress, four U.S. government officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation continues. Those officials blame a lack of cooperation from Italy. A spokesman for the Italian Embassy in Washington denied that.

But a weeks-long review by Knight Ridder has established that:

-Italy's military intelligence agency, SISMI, and people close to it, repeatedly tried to shop the bogus Niger uranium story to governments in France, Britain and the United States. That created the illusion that multiple sources were confirming the story.

The CIA had begun receiving intelligence reports based on the same forgeries in October 2001, but they could not be confirmed. Copies of the fake documents suddenly surfaced at a critical point in the White House's fall 2002 campaign to take the country to war in Iraq.

The CIA eventually determined that the earlier reports were "based on the forged documents" and were "thus ... unreliable," a presidential commission on unconventional weapons proliferation said in March.

-State Department intelligence analysts and some in the CIA discounted the uranium story. But White House officials, working through a back channel to one CIA unit, seized on the tale, and it was included in Bush's case for war.

The following is a chronology of events that led up to the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. It's based on interviews and on reports by the Senate Intelligence Committee and the presidentially appointed panel on weapons intelligence.

Oct. 15, 2001 - The CIA received the first of three top-secret reports from a foreign intelligence service - which intelligence officials said was Italy's SISMI - that Niger planned to ship tons of uranium ore, or yellowcake, to Iraq.

SISMI was behind similar reports in Britain and France. Paris never put any stock in the reports, according to two European officials. London has stood behind its statement that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.

February 2002 - Cheney and other officials asked the CIA to find out more.

Some CIA and Pentagon analysts were impressed with the reporting. But the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was skeptical. Its analysts noted that France controls Niger's uranium mines and argued that Iraq wouldn't risk being caught breaking U.N. sanctions.

The CIA station in Rome was skeptical of the reports from the start.

Feb. 21 - Wilson traveled to Niger at the CIA's request to investigate the purported uranium deal. He said he found nothing to substantiate the allegation. Neither did two other U.S. officials who investigated.

March 8 - The CIA circulated a report on Wilson's trip - without identifying him - to the White House and other agencies.

Sept. 9 - With the White House's public campaign against Iraq in full swing, Nicolo Pollari, head of SISMI, met with then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley at the White House. Hadley later took the blame for including the false Niger allegation in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech.

National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said Thursday that the meeting was a 15-minute courtesy call and that no one could recollect talk about yellowcake.

Oct. 1 - U.S. intelligence agencies sent the White House and Congress their key prewar assessment of Iraq's illicit weapon programs, which said Iraq was "vigorously" trying to buy uranium ore and had sought deals with Niger, Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The State Department's INR dissented in the report.

Oct. 5 - Then-CIA Director George Tenet advised Hadley to drop a reference to Niger from the draft of a nationally televised speech that Bush was to give on Oct. 7 because the "president should not be a fact witness on this issue" as "the reporting was weak." The sentence was removed.

The CIA then wrote the White House that "the evidence (of a uranium ore deal) is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French."

Oct. 9 - An Italian journalist for the Rome magazine Panorama, owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a supporter of the Iraq war, gave the U.S. Embassy a copy of the purported agreement by Niger to sell yellowcake to Iraq.

The journalist, Elisabetta Burba, reportedly received the documents from Italian businessman Rocco Martino, who has connections to SISMI.

The Italian government has denied any connection to the forged documents.

The embassy forwarded a copy to the State Department. It raised the suspicion of an INR nuclear analyst, who noted in an e-mail that the documents bear a "funky Emb. Of Niger stamp (to make it look official, I guess.)"

Jan. 13, 2003 - The INR nuclear analyst told other analysts that he believed the Niger documents were forgeries.

Jan. 16 - The CIA finally received copies of the forged French-language documents. It sent them back to the State Department to be translated.

Jan. 17 - A CIA analytical unit known as WINPAC (Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control) said in a secret assessment that there was "fragmentary reporting" on Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium from "various countries in Africa."

Sometime in late January, Robert Joseph, a senior White House staffer, and Alan Foley, the head of WINPAC, agreed that Bush could refer to the uranium claim in his State of the Union speech, but he should cite a public British report.

Jan. 28 - Bush delivered the State of the Union.

Feb. 5 - Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N. Security Council on the threat from Iraq but didn't repeat the yellowcake allegation.

March 3 - The International Atomic Energy Agency told the United States that the documents were forgeries after an expert used the Google search engine to identify false information.

July 6 - In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Wilson wrote that his failure to confirm the alleged uranium deal led him to conclude that the Bush administration "twisted" some of the intelligence it used to justify the war.

July 14 - Syndicated columnist Robert Novak identified Plame in a column.

Print Story: Libby Lawyer Outlines Defense in Leak Case on Yahoo! News

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

The lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide is outlining a possible criminal defense that is a time-honored tradition in Washington scandals: A busy official immersed in important duties cannot reasonably be expected to remember details of long-ago conversations.

Friday's indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby alleges that as Cheney's chief of staff he lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, a nominee of President Bush in 2001.

Libby, who resigned as soon as the indictment was handed up, was operating amid "the hectic rush of issues and events at a busy time for our government," according to a statement released by his attorney, Joseph Tate.

"We are quite distressed the special counsel (Patrick Fitzgerald) has not sought to pursue alleged inconsistencies in Mr. Libby's recollection and those of others and to charge such inconsistencies as false statements," Tate continued.

"As lawyers, we recognize that a person's recollection and memory of events will not always match those of other people, particularly when they are asked to testify months after the events occurred."

The lack-of-memory defense has worked with varying degrees of success in controversies from Iran-Contra to Whitewater.

Only one person went to prison in the Iran-Contra affair, although several people pleaded guilty to making false statements. President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, were cleared in the Whitewater investigation of fraudulent land deals in Arkansas, a subject well-suited to a lack-of-memory defense. The land deals took place a decade before they came under criminal investigation.

Tate referred to another possible line of defense, saying that "for five years, through difficult times, Mr. Libby has done his best to serve our country." That argument worked in the administration of President George H.W. Bush in 1992, though not in court.

Bush pardoned those in government who had been implicated in the Iran-Contra criminal investigation. Among others, the pardons went to former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, whose trial was scuttled.

The case against Libby: He testified that he learned from NBC correspondent Tim Russert the identity of a covert CIA officer who is the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson. Russert says they never discussed it.

The facts, prosecutor Fitzgerald said, are that the month before the conversation with Russert, Libby learned about the CIA status of Valerie Plame from Cheney, from a senior CIA officer and from an undersecretary of state.

But Libby told the FBI and the grand jury that he informed reporters Matt Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times information about Wilson's wife that he had gotten from other reporters — information that Libby said he did not know to be true. Libby testified that he told the reporters he did not even know if Wilson had a wife.

But Fitzgerald said that rather than being at the end of a chain of phone calls from reporters, Libby "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."

The indictment points to interesting behavior by Libby that changed once Wilson went public with his criticism of the current Bush administration. The former ambassador accused the administration of twisting pre-war intelligence on Iraq's nuclear weapons program to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

Early on, the indictment said, Libby became concerned about an article in The New Republic magazine that referred to Wilson, though not by name, as having gone to Africa for the CIA to investigate allegations that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger. The unnamed ambassador was quoted as saying the "Niger story was a flat-out lie."

The indictment said Libby told his deputy there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing information about the trip and that Libby could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line."

After Wilson criticized the Bush administration on NBC's "Meet the Press," Libby had lunch with then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and advised him that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and noted that such information was not widely known, the indictment said.

It said Libby proceeded to spread it more aggressively than he had previously.

CIA Yet to Assess Harm From Plame's Exposure

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 29, 2005; A09

More than Valerie Plame's identity was exposed when her name appeared in a syndicated column in the summer of 2003.

A small Boston company listed as her employer suddenly was shown to be a bogus CIA front, and her alma mater in Belgium discovered it was a favored haunt of an American spy. At Langley, officials in the clandestine service quickly began drawing up a list of contacts and friends, cultivated over more than a decade, to triage any immediate damage.

There is no indication, according to current and former intelligence officials, that the most dire of consequences -- the risk of anyone's life -- resulted from her outing.

But after Plame's name appeared in Robert D. Novak's column, the CIA informed the Justice Department in a simple questionnaire that the damage was serious enough to warrant an investigation, officials said.

The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment, as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted. Yesterday, after a two-year inquiry into the leak, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald issued a five-count indictment against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements during the grand jury investigation.

Fitzgerald has not charged anyone with breaking a law that protects the identities of undercover operatives.

Nonetheless, intelligence specialists said the exposure of Plame -- who operated under the deepest form of cover -- was a grim reminder of the risks spies face.

"Cover and tradecraft are the only forms of protection one has and to have that stripped away because of political scheming is the moral equivalent to exposing forward deployed military units," said Arthur Brown, who retired in February as the CIA's Asian Division chief and is now a senior vice president at the consultancy firm Control Risks Group.

"In the case of the military, they can pack up and go elsewhere. In the case of a serving clandestine officer, it's the end of that officer's ability to function in that role."

Plame entered the CIA 20 years ago as a case officer at age 22. She spent several years in intensive training at home and abroad, and traveled widely, often presenting herself as a consultant.

Her official employer, listed in public records, was a Boston firm, now known to have been fictitious, named Brewster-Jennings & Associates. And during her years undercover she studied at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.

When she met her future husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, an ambassador, several years later at an embassy party, she introduced herself as an "energy analyst." It was a story she would tell her closest friends and neighbors for years.

All that changed after Wilson publicly revealed in The Washington Post and the New York Times on July 6, 2003, that he had officially investigated, and discounted, claims by President Bush that Iraq was trying to buy a key ingredient for nuclear weapons from Niger.

"The fact is, once your husband writes an op-ed piece and goes political, you have no immunity, and that's the way Washington works," said Robert Baer, who served in the CIA's clandestine service.

Eight days later, Novak, citing two senior administration officials, wrote that Wilson's trip was arranged by his wife, whom Novak identified by name as a CIA officer. The column generated speculation that the Bush administration had purposely blown her cover to try to discredit Wilson -- a critic of the administration's case for war.

"Blowing the cover of a CIA officer is the cardinal sin in the intelligence business: It could wipe out information networks and put lives at risk," Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House intelligence panel, said in a statement.

For Plame, the most serious consequence may be professional.

"It's possible that no damage was done [to national security] but she can never [work] overseas again," said Mark Lowenthal, who retired from a senior management position at the CIA in March.

Lowenthal said he was unaware of the extent of damage that may have been caused by exposing Plame, who worked in the Counterproliferation Division at CIA headquarters in Langley.

"You can only speculate that if she had foreign contacts, those contacts might be nervous and their relationships with her put them at risk. It also makes it harder for other CIA officers to recruit sources," Lowenthal said.

Intelligence officials said they would never reveal the true extent of her contacts to protect the agency and its work.

"You'll never get a straight answer about how valuable she was or how valuable her sources were," said one intelligence official who would speak only anonymously.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Valerie Plame, the Spy Who Got Shoved Out Into the Cold

By Richard Leiby
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 29, 2005; C01

What's ahead for Valerie Plame?

Lost in the din of the leak scandal that has consumed Washington is the very personal impact on the willowy blond CIA operative at its center. Plame, 42, wife of former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, has become the most famous spy in the world, but her career has been derailed. It appears likely she will leave the CIA, some acquaintances say, but she hasn't publicly signaled her plans.

Plame, the mother of 5-year-old twins, recently told a friend, Jane Honikman, that she intends to retire from the agency where she has worked for 20 years. "She really wants to be with her kids -- that's her plan, to be that mom," said Honikman, founder of a postpartum depression support network in which Plame has been active.

Although Plame has been under "tremendous stress" as the subject of global publicity and political spin, Honikman added, "she has a good sense of humor still and a wonderful, charming ability to look on the bright side." Several friends say she was devastated by the disclosure of her name in July 2003, but she went on with her life: She and Wilson circulated socially, took weekend walks along the C&O Canal and went to church. At events where media were present, Plame unfailingly smiled and exchanged pleasantries.

She has never granted an interview, effectively gagged by the CIA, whose guidelines require employees to clear media contacts and publications. But she hasn't been totally averse to publicity. She once posed for a Vanity Fair photograph in her husband's Jaguar, ala Grace Kelly, wearing sunglasses and a headscarf. For many critics of her media-savvy husband, that offered proof enough that she was out to capitalize on her notoriety -- further fodder in an affair that has become as highly politicized as any other White House scandal.

Wilson, whose credibility and qualifications have come under withering Republican fire ever since he went public about his CIA-sponsored trip to Niger and criticisms of the Iraq war, said yesterday in a statement: "While I may engage in public discourse, my wife and my family are private people. They did not choose to be brought into the public square, and they do not wish to be under the glare of cameras. . . . This case is not about me or my family, no matter how others might try to make it so."

Plame, the daughter of an Air Force colonel and an elementary school teacher, was recruited by the CIA at 22, shortly after graduation from Pennsylvania State University. She was in the 1985-86 class of CIA officers trained at "The Farm" near Williamsburg, where the curriculum included learning to drive under fire, blowing up cars and handling an AK-47.

Her career postings are classified, but she was one of the elite clandestine spies -- an officer with nonofficial cover who works overseas in business or other jobs and has no diplomatic protection if detected or arrested.

In 2006, she will have 20 years with the agency. As such she qualifies for retirement but would not receive full benefits unless she stays with the agency until age 50.

After she was named in a syndicated column by Robert Novak, Plame had no chance of working again in her chosen field, her friends say, and the strain of remaining at the agency has taken its toll.

"For all intents and purposes out at the CIA, she's like a leper . . . she's radioactive," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and acquaintance of Plame's who was in her officer training class. "There are instances where some people at headquarters have shunned her. In other cases they don't know what to say. It's like someone whose child has died: What do you say to them?

"There are a variety of things she could have done at the agency. She could have become a station chief overseas and run espionage operations. It has destroyed her life on that front. What is she supposed to do now, wear a button saying, " 'Hi, I work for the CIA'?"

Wilson and his lawyer, Christopher Wolf, would not comment on Plame's plans. But Wolf -- who has also been the couple's next-door neighbor for seven years -- said: "She was absolutely devastated by this on lots of levels. . . . Valerie was by definition the ultimate private person. She didn't seek any publicity or any acclaim or any thanks for her work."

After the outing, said Wolf, "her career was over, she knew it was over, and certainly her contacts were put in jeopardy . . . and her family was put at risk."

Last winter, Plame drafted an op-ed article to explain her role in her husband's Niger trip, but the agency would not permit her to submit it for publication. "While I would love to share Valerie's article with readers, so long as her agency refuses to allow her to defend herself, there is nothing she or I can do," Wilson wrote in the recently issued paperback edition of his bestseller "The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity."

In the book he quoted a CIA response to Plame telling her "publication of your article has the potential to affect your ability to perform your official duties and the agency's ability to perform its mission." As long as she remains in the CIA -- and even beyond retirement -- national security restrictions would typically apply if she wrote, say, a memoir.

Wilson and Plame, who were married in 1998, live in the District's Palisades neighborhood in a spacious home with a back-deck view of the Washington Monument. Their son and daughter are in kindergarten. (Wilson has another grown set of twins from an earlier marriage.) Before Novak's column, neighbors and friends had no clue she was a spy -- they knew her as a "consultant" in the energy business.

"She's going to be a huge asset no matter what she does," said Plame's friend Honikman, founder of Postpartum Support International, a group the CIA officer contacted for help in overcoming her own severe bout with postpartum depression. "She's too smart a woman . . . and would maximize whatever opportunities lie ahead."

Plame served as executive director of a local postpartum support chapter but had to resign because "it was too much stress" after she was outed, Honikman said. "She had to stay focused on herself and her family." Honikman added, "I admire her for the incredible strength she has shown to endure this."

There is no indication that yesterday's indictment of vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will end Plame's time in the public firestorm. By late afternoon, Republicans were on television trying to reopen debate on just what Plame did at the CIA and how covert the woman really was.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Vice President Cheney's Statement - New York Times

Following is a statement by Vice President Dick Cheney regarding I. Lewis Libby, as released by the White House.

Mr. Libby has informed me that he is resigning to fight the charges brought against him. I have accepted his decision with deep regret.

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.

President Bush's Statement - New York Times

The following is the transcript of President Bush's statement on the resignation of I. Lewis Libby.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Today I accepted the resignation of Scooter Libby.

Scooter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country.

He served the vice president and me through extraordinary times in our nation's history.

Special Counsel Fitzgerald's investigation and ongoing legal proceedings are serious. And now the proceedings -- the process moves into a new phase.

In our system, each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial.

While we're all saddened by today's news, 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. We got a job to protect the American people, and that's what we'll continue working hard to do. : I look forward to working with Congress on policies to keep this economy moving. And pretty soon, I'll be naming someone to the Supreme Court.

Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: Mr. President...

QUESTION: Are you embarrased by these charges?


QUESTION: ... at the White House, sir?

QUESTION: Are you embarrased by these charges?


Fitzgerald News Conference - New York Times

The following is the transcript of a news conference with Patrick J. Fitzgerald, special counsel for the Justice Department, as provided by CQ Transcriptions.

FITZGERALD: Good afternoon. I'm Pat Fitzgerald. I'm the United States attorney in Chicago, but I'm appearing before you today as the Department of Justice special counsel in the CIA leak investigation.

Joining me, to my left, is Jack Eckenrode, the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Chicago, who has led the team of investigators and prosecutors from day one in this investigation.

A few hours ago, a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia returned a five-count indictment against I. Lewis Libby, also known as Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff.

The grand jury's indictment charges that Mr. Libby committed five crimes. The indictment charges one count of obstruction of justice of the federal grand jury, two counts of perjury and two counts of false statements.

Before I talk about those charges and what the indictment alleges, I'd like to put the investigation into a little context.

Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community.

Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life.

The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well- known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security.

Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003.

But Mr. Novak was not the first reporter to be told that Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, Ambassador Wilson's wife Valerie, worked at the CIA. Several other reporters were told.

In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson.

Now, something needs to be borne in mind about a criminal investigation.

I recognize that there's been very little information about this criminal investigation, but for a very good reason.

It may be frustrating when investigations are conducted in secret. When investigations use grand juries, it's important that the information be closely held.

So let me tell you a little bit about how an investigation works.

Investigators do not set out to investigate the statute, they set out to gather the facts.

It's critical that when an investigation is conducted by prosecutors, agents and a grand jury they learn who, what, when, where and why. And then they decide, based upon accurate facts, whether a crime has been committed, who has committed the crime, whether you can prove the crime and whether the crime should be charged.

Agent Eckenrode doesn't send people out when $1 million is missing from a bank and tell them, Just come back if you find wire fraud. If the agent finds embezzlement, they follow through on that.

That's the way this investigation was conducted. It was known that a CIA officer's identity was blown, it was known that there was a leak. We needed to figure out how that happened, who did it, why, whether a crime was committed, whether we could prove it, whether we should prove it.

And given that national security was at stake, it was especially important that we find out accurate facts.

There's another thing about a grand jury investigation. One of the obligations of the prosecutors and the grand juries is to keep the information obtained in the investigation secret, not to share it with the public.

And as frustrating as that may be for the public, that is important because, the way our system of justice works, if information is gathered about people and they're not charged with a crime, we don't hold up that information for the public to look at. We either charge them with a crime or we don't.

And that's why we've safeguarded information here to date.

But as important as it is for the grand jury to follow the rules and follow the safeguards to make sure information doesn't get out, it's equally important that the witnesses who come before a grand jury, especially the witnesses who come before a grand jury who may be under investigation, tell the complete truth.

It's especially important in the national security area. The laws involving disclosure of classified information in some places are very clear, in some places they're not so clear.

And grand jurors and prosecutors making decisions about who should be charged, whether anyone should be charged, what should be charged, need to make fine distinctions about what people knew, why they knew it, what they exactly said, why they said it, what they were trying to do, what appreciation they had for the information and whether it was classified at the time.

Those fine distinctions are important in determining what to do. That's why it's essential when a witness comes forward and gives their account of how they came across classified information and what they did with it that it be accurate.

That brings us to the fall of 2003. When it was clear that Valerie Wilson's cover had been blown, investigation began. And in October 2003, the FBI interviewed Mr. Libby. Mr. Libby is the vice president's chief of staff. He's also an assistant to the president and an assistant to the vice president for national security affairs.

The focus of the interview was what it that he had known about Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, what he knew about Ms. Wilson, what he said to people, why he said it, and how he learned it.

And to be frank, Mr. Libby gave the FBI a compelling story.

What he told the FBI is that essentially he was at the end of a long chain of phone calls. He spoke to reporter Tim Russert, and during the conversation Mr. Russert told him that, Hey, do you know that all the reporters know that Mr. Wilson's wife works at the CIA?

And he told the FBI that he learned that information as if it were new, and it struck him. So he took this information from Mr. Russert and later on he passed it on to other reporters, including reporter Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, reporter Judith Miller of the New York Times.

And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on on July 12th, 2003, two days before Mr. Novak's column, that he passed it on understanding that this was information he had gotten from a reporter; that he didn't even know if it was true.

And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on to the reporters he made clear that he did know if this were true. This was something that all the reporters were saying and, in fact, he just didn't know and he wanted to be clear about it.

Later, Mr. Libby went before the grand jury on two occasions in March of 2004. He took and oath and he testified. And he essentially said the same thing.

He said that, in fact, he had learned from the vice president earlier in June 2003 information about Wilson's wife, but he had forgotten it, and that when he learned the information from Mr. Russert during this phone call he learned it as if it were new.

When he passed the information on to reporters Cooper and Miller late in the week, he passed it on thinking it was just information he received from reporters; that he told reporters that, in fact, he didn't even know if it were true. He was just passing gossip from one reporter to another at the long end of a chain of phone calls.

It would be a compelling story that will lead the FBI to go away if only it were true. It is not true, according to the indictment.

In fact, Mr. Libby discussed the information about Valerie Wilson at least half a dozen times before this conversation with Mr. Russert ever took place, not to mention that when he spoke to Mr. Russert, Mr. Russert and he never discussed Valerie Wilson or Wilson's wife.

He didn't learn it from Mr. Russert. But if he had, it would not have been new at the time.

Let me talk you through what the indictment alleges.

The indictment alleges that Mr. Libby learned the information about Valerie Wilson at least three times in June of 2003 from government officials.

Let me make clear there was nothing wrong with government officials discussing Valerie Wilson or Mr. Wilson or his wife and imparting the information to Mr. Libby.

But in early June, Mr. Libby learned about Valerie Wilson and the role she was believed to play in having sent Mr. Wilson on a trip overseas from a senior CIA officer on or around June 11th, from an undersecretary of state on or around June 11th, and from the vice president on or about June 12th.

It's also clear, as set forth in the indictment, that some time prior to July 8th he also learned it from somebody else working in the Vice President's Office.

So at least four people within the government told Mr. Libby about Valerie Wilson, often referred to as Wilson's wife, working at the CIA and believed to be responsible for helping organize a trip that Mr. Wilson took overseas.

In addition to hearing it from government officials, it's also alleged in the indictment that at least three times Mr. Libby discussed this information with other government officials.

It's alleged in the indictment that on June 14th of 2003, a full month before Mr. Novak's column, Mr. Libby discussed it in a conversation with a CIA briefer in which he was complaining to the CIA briefer his belief that the CIA was leaking information about something or making critical comments, and he brought up Joe Wilson and Valerie Wilson.It's also alleged in the indictment that Mr. Libby discussed it with the White House press secretary on July 7th, 2003, over lunch. What's important about that is that Mr. Libby, the indictment alleges, was telling Mr. Fleischer something on Monday that he claims to have learned on Thursday.

In addition to discussing it with the press secretary on July 7th, there was also a discussion on or about July 8th in which counsel for the vice president was asked a question by Mr. Libby as to what paperwork the Central Intelligence Agency would have if an employee had a spouse go on a trip.

So that at least seven discussions involving government officials prior to the day when Mr. Libby claims he learned this information as if it were new from Mr. Russert. And, in fact, when he spoke to Mr. Russert, they never discussed it.

But in addition to focusing on how it is that Mr. Libby learned this information and what he thought about it, it's important to focus on what it is that Mr. Libby said to the reporters.

In the account he gave to the FBI and to the grand jury was that he told reporters Cooper and Miller at the end of the week, on July 12th. And that what he told them was he gave them information that he got from other reporters; other reporters were saying this, and Mr. Libby did not know if it were true. And in fact, Mr. Libby testified that he told the reporters he did not even know if Mr. Wilson had a wife.

And, in fact, we now know that Mr. Libby discussed this information about Valerie Wilson at least four times prior to July 14th, 2003: on three occasions with Judith Miller of the New York Times and on one occasion with Matthew Cooper of Time magazine.

The first occasion in which Mr. Libby discussed it with Judith Miller was back in June 23rd of 2003, just days after an article appeared online in the New Republic which quoted some critical commentary from Mr. Wilson.

After that discussion with Judith Miller on June 23rd, 2003, Mr. Libby also discussed Valerie Wilson on July 8th of 2003.

During that discussion, Mr. Libby talked about Mr. Wilson in a conversation that was on background as a senior administration official. And when Mr. Libby talked about Wilson, he changed the attribution to a former Hill staffer.

During that discussion, which was to be attributed to a former Hill staffer, Mr. Libby also discussed Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, working at the CIA -- and then, finally, again, on July 12th.

In short -- and in those conversations, Mr. Libby never said,

This is something that other reporters are saying; Mr. Libby never said, This is something that I don't know if it's true; Mr. Libby never said, I don't even know if he had a wife.

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 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.

Now, as I said before, this grand jury investigation has been conducted in secret. I believe it should have been conducted in secret, not only because it's required by those rules, but because the rules are wise. Those rules protect all of us.

We are now going from a grand jury investigation to an indictment, a public charge and a public trial. The rules will be different.

But I think what we see here today, when a vice president's chief of staff is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, it does show the world that this is a country that takes its law seriously; that all citizens are bound by the law.

But what we need to also show the world is that we can also apply the same safeguards to all our citizens, including high officials. Much as they must be bound by the law, they must follow the same rules.

So I ask everyone involved in this process, anyone who participates in this trial, anyone who covers this trial, anyone sitting home watching these proceedings to follow this process with an American appreciation for our values and our dignity.

Let's let the process take place. Let's take a deep breath and let justice process the system.

I would be remiss at this point if I didn't thank the team of investigators and prosecutors who worked on it, led by Agent Eckenrode, or particularly the staff under John Dial (ph) from the Counterespionage Section in the Department of Justice; Mr. Zidenberg (ph) from Public Integrity, as well as the agents from the Washington field office and my close friends in the Chicago U.S. Attorney's Office, all of whom contributed to a joint effort.

And with that, I'll take questions.

Mr. Fitzgerald, this began as a leak investigation but no one is charged with any leaking. Is your investigation finished? Is this another leak investigation that doesn't lead to a charge of leaking?

FITZGERALD: Let me answer the two questions you asked in one.

OK, is the investigation finished? It's not over, but I'll tell you this: Very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that's going to be tried and would you ever end a grand jury investigation.

I can tell you, the substantial bulk of the work in this investigation is concluded.

This grand jury's term has expired by statute; it could not be extended. But it's in ordinary course to keep a grand jury open to consider other matters, and that's what we will be doing.

Let me then ask your next question: Well, why is this a leak investigation that doesn't result in a charge? I've been trying to think about how to explain this, so let me try. I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something.

If you saw a baseball game and you saw a pitcher wind up and throw a fastball and hit a batter right smack in the head, and it really, really hurt them, you'd want to know why the pitcher did that. And you'd wonder whether or not the person just reared back and decided, I've got bad blood with this batter. He hit two home runs off me. I'm just going to hit him in the head as hard as I can.

You also might wonder whether or not the pitcher just let go of the ball or his foot slipped, and he had no idea to throw the ball anywhere near the batter's head. And there's lots of shades of gray in between.

You might learn that you wanted to hit the batter in the back and it hit him in the head because he moved. You might want to throw it under his chin, but it ended up hitting him on the head.

And what you'd want to do is have as much information as you could. You'd want to know: What happened in the dugout? Was this guy complaining about the person he threw at? Did he talk to anyone else? What was he thinking? How does he react? All those things you'd want to know.

And then you'd make a decision as to whether this person should be banned from baseball, whether they should be suspended, whether you should do nothing at all and just say, Hey, the person threw a bad pitch. Get over it.

In this case, it's a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us.

And as you sit back, you want to learn: Why was this information going out? Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters? Why did Mr. Libby say what he did? Why did he tell Judith Miller three times? Why did he tell the press secretary on Monday? Why did he tell Mr. Cooper? And was this something where he intended to cause whatever damage was caused?

Or did they intend to do something else and where are the shades of gray?

And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view.

As you sit here now, if you're asking me what his motives were, I can't tell you; we haven't charged it.

So what you were saying is the harm in an obstruction investigation is it prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make.

I also want to take away from the notion that somehow we should take an obstruction charge less seriously than a leak charge.

This is a very serious matter and compromising national security information is a very serious matter. But the need to get to the bottom of what happened and whether national security was compromised by inadvertence, by recklessness, by maliciousness is extremely important. We need to know the truth. And anyone who would go into a grand jury and lie, obstruct and impede the investigation has committed a serious crime.I will say this: Mr. Libby is presumed innocent. He would not be guilty unless and until a jury of 12 people came back and returned a verdict saying so.

But if what we allege in the indictment is true, then what is charged is a very, very serious crime that will vindicate the public interest in finding out what happened here.

QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, do you have evidence that the vice president of the United States, one of Mr. Libby's original sources for this information, encouraged him to leak it or encouraged him to lie about leaking?

FITZGERALD: I'm not making allegations about anyone not charged in the indictment.

Now, let me back up, because I know what that sounds like to people if they're sitting at home.

We don't talk about people that are not charged with a crime in the indictment.

I would say that about anyone in this room who has nothing to do with the offenses.

We make no allegation that the vice president committed any criminal act. We make no allegation that any other people who provided or discussed with Mr. Libby committed any criminal act.

But as to any person you asked me a question about other than Mr. Libby, I'm not going to comment on anything.

Please don't take that as any indication that someone has done something wrong. That's a standard practice. If you followed me in Chicago, I say that a thousand times a year. And we just don't comment on people because we could start telling, Well, this person did nothing wrong, this person did nothing wrong, and then if we stop commenting, then you'll start jumping to conclusions. So please take no more.

QUESTION: For all the sand thrown in your eyes, it sounds like you do know the identity of the leaker. There's a reference to a senior official at the White House, Official A, who had a discussion with Robert Novak about Joe Wilson's wife.

QUESTION: Can you explain why that official was not charged?

FITZGERALD: I'll explain this: I know that people want to know whatever it is that we know, and they're probably sitting at home with the TV thinking, I'm want to jump through the TV, grab him by his collar and tell him to tell us everything they figured out over the last two years.

We just can't do that. It's not because we enjoy holding back information from you; that's the law.

And one of the things we do with a grand jury is we gather information. And the explicit requirement is if we're not going to charge someone with a crime; if we decide that a person did not commit a crime, we cannot prove a crime, doesn't merit prosecution, we do not stand up and say, We gathered all this information on the commitment that we're going to follow the rules of grand jury secrecy, which say we don't talk about people not charged with a crime, and then at the end say, well, it's a little inconvenient not to give answers out, so I'll give it out anyway.

ITZGERALD: I can't give you answers on what we know and don't know, other than what's charged in the indictment.

It's not because I enjoy being in that position. It's because the law is that way. I actually think the law should be that way.

We can't talk about information not contained in the four corners of the indictment.

QUESTION: Is Karl Rove off the hook? And are there any other individuals who might be charged? You say you're not quite finished.

FITZGERALD: What I can say is the same answer I gave before: If you ask me any name, I'm not going to comment on anyone named, because we either charged someone or we don't talk about them. And don't read that answer in the context of the name you gave me.

QUESTION: What can you say about what you're still working on then?

FITZGERALD: I can't. I don't mean that fliply, but the grand jury doesn't give an announcement about what they're doing, what they're looking at, unless they charge an indictment.FITZGERALD: I can tell you that no one wants this thing to be over as quickly as I do, as quickly as Mr. Eckenrode does. I'd like to wake up in my bed in Chicago, he'd like to wake up in his bed in Philadelphia, and we recognize that we want to get this thing done.

I will not end the investigation until I can look anyone in the eye and tell them that we have carried out our responsibility sufficiently to be sure that we've done what we could to make intelligent decisions about when to end the investigation. We hope to do that as soon as possible. I just hope that people will take a deep breath and just allow us to continue to do what we have to do.

QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, you've said that there was damage done to all of us, damage to the entire nation. Can you be any more specific about what kind of damage you're talking about?

FITZGERALD: The short answer is no. But I can just say this: I'm not going to comment on things beyond what's said in the indictment.

I can say that for the people who work at the CIA and work at other places, they have to expect that when they do their jobs that classified information will be protected. And they have to expect that when they do their jobs, that information about whether or not they are affiliated with the CIA will be protected.

And they run a risk when they work for the CIA that something bad could happen to them, but they have to make sure that they don't run the risk that something bad is going to happen to them from something done by their own fellow government employees.

But getting to the specifics of the damage, I won't.

QUESTION: You mentioned the importance to you of grand jury secrecy and you have been leak-free.

But I want to know what your thoughts are about a series of leaks about your investigation. What was your interpretation of what some people have described as manipulative, selective leaking about your investigation by people close to your witnesses?

FITZGERALD: And all I can say is -- well, I'll just say this: I'm not going to comment on why certain things were leaked or any speculation I might have where was the leak from.

I think the average person does not understand that the rule of grand jury secrecy binds the prosecutors and the grand jury, it binds the agents who come across the grand jury information, it binds the grand jurors. Any one of us could go to jail if we leak that information.

It does not bind witnesses. Witnesses can decide to tell their testimony or not. So if this were a bank robbery and we put a witness in the grand jury about the bank robbery, I would go to jail, he would go to jail, and the grand jurors would go to jail if they walked out and told you about it. But the person who went into the grand jury could walk out and hold a press conference on the front steps.

So they're not breaking the law by discussing their grand jury information. I would prefer for the integrity of the investigation it not be discussed. But I just think people may not understand that certain people are not restricted in talking about grand jury information and certain are.

FITZGERALD: All I can do is make sure that myself and everyone on our team follows those rules.

QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, you said that it was OK for government officials to be discussing among themselves Mrs. Wilson's identity. Were you troubled, though, that at least a half dozen people outside the CIA seemed to be talking about this in the weeks before her name was disclosed?

FITZGERALD: My job is to investigate whether or not a crime is committed, can be proved and should be charged. I'm not going to comment on what to make beyond that. You know, it's not my jurisdiction, not my job, not my judgment.

QUESTION: I know you just talked about having sand in your eyes when you have the obstruction charge here. Can you give us any sense of how you think you might and how long it might take you now to determine if there was this underlying crime that occurred dealing with alleged unauthorized disclosure?

FITZGERALD: I can't and I wouldn't. And if I predicted two years ago when it started when it would be done, I would have been done a year ago.

FITZGERALD: So all I can tell you is as soon as we can get it done, we will.

QUESTION: You identified Mr. Fleischer as one of the people that Mr. Libby spoke with. Can you say who the counsel to the V.P. was, and also the undersecretary of state that he spoke with?

FITZGERALD: We've referred to people by their titles in the indictment just because that's a practice. We don't allege they did anything wrong. But we said the White House press secretary and we talked about counsel for the vice president. And I generally don't identify people beyond the indictment.

And I'll talk to Randy Samborn, who tells me what I'm allowed to do, at the break.

If we can provide you those names, we will. I'm not so sure we can, so I better not do it in front of a microphone.

QUESTION: In the end, was it worth keeping Judy Miller in jail for 85 days in this case? And can you say how important her testimony was in producing this indictment?

FITZGERALD: Let me just say this: No one wanted to have a dispute with the New York Times or anyone else. We can't talk generally about witnesses. There's much said in the public record.FITZGERALD: I would have wished nothing better that, when the subpoenas were issued in August 2004, witnesses testified then, and we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005. No one would have went to jail.

I didn't have a vested interest in litigating it. I was not looking for a First Amendment showdown. I also have to say my job was to find out what happened here, make reasoned judgments about what testimony was necessary, and then pursue it.

And we couldn't walk away from that. I could have not have told you a year ago that we think that there may be evidence that a crime is being committed here of obstruction, that there may be a crime behind it and we're just going to walk away from it.

Our job was to find the information responsibly.

We then, when we issued the subpoenas, we thought long and hard before we did that. And I can tell you, there's a lot of reporters whose reporting and contacts have touched upon this case that we never even talked to.

We didn't bluff people. And what we decided to do was to make sure before we subpoenaed any reporter that we really needed that testimony.

In addition to that, we scrubbed it thoroughly within ourselves. And we also, when we went to court, we could have taken the position that it's our decision whether to issued a subpoena, but we made sure that put a detailed, classified, sealed filing before the district court judge, the chief judge -- Hogan -- in the District of Columbia.

FITZGERALD: So we wanted to make sure that if he thought our efforts were off base, if what we were saying -- representing to him was the case was off, that he would have those facts when he made the decision.

Judge Hogan agreed and felt that we met whatever standard there might be for issuing a subpoena.

Then went up to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals with that same filing and they found the same results. And then it went to the Supreme Court.

So I think what we did in seeking that testimony was borne out by how the judges ruled.

At the end of the day, I don't know how you could ever resolve this case, to walk into you a year ago and say, You know what? Forget the reporters; we have someone telling us that they told Mr. Cooper and Ms. Miller that they didn't know if this information were true, they just heard it from other reporters, they didn't even know if he had a wife, and charge a person with perjury only to find out that's what happened, that would be reckless.

On the other hand, if we walked away and said,

Well, there are indications that, in fact, this is not how the conversation would happen, there are indications that there might be perjury or obstruction of justice here, but I were to fold up my tent and go home, that would not fulfill our mandate.

I tell you, I will say this: I do not think that a reporter should be subpoenaed anything close to routinely. It should be an extraordinary case.

But if you're dealing with a crime and what's different here is the transaction is between a person and a reporter, they're the eyewitness to the crime; if you walk away from that and don't talk to the eyewitness, you are doing a reckless job of either charging someone with a crime that may not turn out to have been committed -- and that frightens me, because there are things that you can learn from a reporter that would show you the crime wasn't committed.

What if, in fact, the allegations turned out to be true that he said, Hey, I sourced it to other reporters, I don't know if it's true ?

FITZGERALD: So I think the only way you can do an investigation like this is to hear from all the witnesses.

I wish Ms. Miller spent not a second in jail. I wish we didn't have to spend time arguing very, very important issues and just got down to the brass tacks and made the call of where we were. But I think it had to be done.

QUESTION: You said earlier in your statement here that Mr. Libby was the first person to leak this information outside of the government. Now, first of all, that implies that there might have been other people inside the government who made such leaks.

Secondly, in paragraph 21, the one about Official A, you imply that Novak might have heard this information about the woman, Mrs. Wilson, from another source. But you don't actually say that.

What can you tell us about the existence that you know of or don't know of or whatever of other leakers? Are there definitely other leakers? Is Official A a leaker or just a facilitator? Are you continuing to investigate other possible leakers?

FITZGERALD: I'm afraid I'm going to have to find a polite way of repeating my answer to Mr. Isikoff's question, which is to simply say I can't go beyond the four corners of the indictment. And I'll probably just say -- I'll repeat it so I don't misstep and give you anything more than I should.

QUESTION: Can you say whether or not you know whether Mr. Libby knew that Valerie Wilson's identity was covert and whether or not that was pivotal at all in your inability or your decision not to charge under the Intelligence Identity Protection Act?

FITZGERALD: Let me say two things. Number one, I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert. And anything I say is not intended to say anything beyond this: that she was a CIA officer from January 1st, 2002, forward.

I will confirm that her association with the CIA was classified at that time through July 2003. And all I'll say is that, look, we have not made any allegation that Mr. Libby knowingly, intentionally outed a covert agent.

FITZGERALD: We have not charged that. And so I'm not making that assertion.

QUESTION: Would you oppose a congressional investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity? And if not, would you be willing to cooperate with such an investigation by handing over the work product of your investigation?

FITZGERALD: I guess that's two questions, and I know I can answer the second part, turning over the work product.

There are strict rules about grand jury secrecy if there were an investigation. And, frankly, I have to pull the book out and get the people smarter than me about grand jury rules in Chicago and sit down and tell me how it works.

My gut instinct is that we do not -- very, very rarely is grand jury information shared with the Congress.

And I also think I'd have to be careful about what my charter is here. I don't think it's my role to opine on whether the Justice Department would oppose or not oppose some other investigation. So I'm certainly not going to figure that out standing up here with a bunch of cameras pointing at me.

QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, your critics are charging that you are a partisan who was conducting what, in essence, was a...

(UNKNOWN): In which government (ph)?


FITZGERALD: You tell me.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) witch hunt. I mean, how do you respond to (inaudible) since you are in Washington...

FITZGERALD: I don't know -- you know, it's sort of, When'd you stop beating your wife?

One day I read that I was a Republican hack, another day I read that I was a Democratic hack, and the only thing I did between those two nights was sleep.

I'm not partisan. I'm not registered as part of a party. And I'll leave it there.

QUESTION: You noted earlier that the grand jury's term expired but you said something about holding it open. Or will you be working with a new grand jury?

FITZGERALD: The grand jury, by its terms, can serve -- was an 18-month grand jury. By its statute, to my understanding, can only be extended six months.

FITZGERALD: That six months expired.

It's routine in long investigations that you would have available a new grand jury if you needed to go back to them. And that's nothing unusual. I don't want to raise any expectations by that; that's an ordinary practice.

QUESTION: I think you, kind of, answered this but I assume that you have no plans and don't even think you'd be allowed to issue a final report of any sort.

FITZGERALD: You're correct. But let me explain that.

I think what people may be confused about is that reports used to be issued by independent counsels. And one of the complaints about the independent counsel statute was that an ordinary citizen, when investigated, they're charged with a crime or they're not; they're not charged with a crime, people don't talk about it.

Because of the interest in making sure that -- well, there's an interest in independent counsels to making sure those investigations were done thoroughly but then people ended up issuing reports for people not charged. And one of the criticisms leveled was that you should not issue reports about people who are not charged with a crime.

That statute lapsed. I'm not an independent counsel, and I do not have the authority to write a report, and, frankly, I don't think I should have that authority. I think we should conduct this like any other criminal investigation: charge someone or be quiet.

QUESTION: Isn't it kind of true that Mr. Comey's letter to you makes you in essence almost a de facto attorney general and you can abide or not abide by the CFRs or the regulations as to whether or not to write -- to write a report or not to write a report?

And the follow-up is, every special counsel prior to you has in fact written a report and turned it over to Congress, and they've gotten around the grand jury issue as well.

FITZGERALD: Let me say this. I think any prior special counsel may have been special counsel appointed to -- certain regulations for people outside the Department of Justice, which I do not fit into. I'm not an independent counsel. I may be unique in this sense. I can tell you, I'm very comfortable, very clear that I do not have that authority.

And the extent that I was given sort of the acting attorney general hat for this case, it's the acting attorney general, but the attorney general can't violate the law. And the law on grand jury secrecy is the law.

So I may have a lot of power for this one case in the acting attorney general hat, but I followed the Code of Federal Regulations in this case, and I certainly would follow the law.

QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, the Republicans previewed some talking points in anticipation of your indictment and they said that if you didn't indict on the underlying crimes and you indicted on things exactly like you did indict -- false statements, perjury, obstruction -- these were, quote/unquote, technicalities, and that it really was over reaching and excessive.

And since, when and if they make those claims, now that you have indicted, you won't respond, I want to give you an opportunity now to respond to that allegation which they may make. It seems like that's the road they're going down.

FITZGERALD: And I don't know who provided those talking points. I assume...


FITZGERALD: I'm not asking -- OK.


FITZGERALD: I'll be blunt.

That talking point won't fly. If you're doing a national security investigation, if you're trying to find out who compromised the identity of a CIA officer and you go before a grand jury and if the charges are proven -- because remember there's a presumption of innocence -- but if it is proven that the chief of staff to the vice president went before a federal grand jury and lied under oath repeatedly and fabricated a story about how he learned this information, how he passed it on, and we prove obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements to the FBI, that is a very, very serious matter.

FITZGERALD: And I'd say this: I think people might not understand this. We, as prosecutors and FBI agents, have to deal with false statements, obstruction of justice and perjury all the time. The Department of Justice charges those statutes all the time.

When I was in New York working as a prosecutor, we brought those cases because we realized that the truth is the engine of our judicial system. And if you compromise the truth, the whole process is lost.

In Philadelphia, where Jack works, they prosecute false statements and obstruction of justice.

When I got to Chicago, I knew the people before me had prosecuted false statements, obstruction and perjury cases.

FITZGERALD: And we do it all the time. And if a truck driver pays a bribe or someone else does something where they go into a grand jury afterward and lie about it, they get indicted all the time.

Any notion that anyone might have that there's a different standard for a high official, that this is somehow singling out obstruction of justice and perjury, is upside down.

If these facts are true, if we were to walk away from this and not charge obstruction of justice and perjury, we might as well just hand in our jobs. Because our jobs, the criminal justice system, is to make sure people tell us the truth. And when it's a high-level official and a very sensitive investigation, it is a very, very serious matter that no one should take lightly.

QUESTION: This doesn't relate to the charges, so I'm hoping maybe you can shed some light on this.

In your investigation, have you determined how it was that Ambassador Wilson became the person to be sent to Niger to investigate this situation, how directly involved was his wife in this selection, how much pressure she may have put on officials?

QUESTION: And also I'm wondering about the cooperation you've received from the CIA.

FITZGERALD: I think all government agencies that we have turned to for cooperation have cooperated.

I might have a comment on the circumstances of the trip. I think the only thing that's relevant, frankly, is the belief in the mind of some people that she was involved in the trip or responsible for sending the trip. The dispute as to whether, in fact, she was is irrelevant to the charge before us.

What we're talking about is why -- the investigation was why someone compromised her identity. And the issue in this indictment is whether or not Mr. Libby knowingly and intentionally lied about the facts.

And whatever happened in that trip and what role, if any, the wife played is really irrelevant and not our focus.


FITZGERALD: What is set forth is a belief on his part that she played a role in the trip, and that is set forth in the indictment.

Whether that belief is 100 percent, 100 percent false, or a mixture of both, is, sort of, irrelevant. But it does set forth in there that he had that belief that she was involved in the trip.

QUESTION: Are you at all concerned that Mr. Libby or his counsel sought to affect or discourage the testimony of Judy Miller by withholding a so-called personal waiver allowing her to testify notwithstanding a pledge of confidentiality or (inaudible) letter to her that she reportedly received when was in jail?

FITZGERALD: And I'm not going to comment on anything that's not in the indictment, but I can tell you that we're not relying upon anything other than the indictment, which the obstruction of justice charges set forth, the statements by Mr. Libby to the FBI, and the testimony under oath to the grand jury as being the basis of the obstruction charge and nothing else.

QUESTION: The indictment describes Lewis Libby giving classified information concerning the identify of a CIA agent to some individuals who were not eligible to receive that information. Can you explain why that does not, in and of itself, constitute a crime?

FITZGERALD: That's a good question. And I think, knowing that he gave the information to someone who was outside the government, not entitled to receive it, and knowing that the information was classified, is not enough.

FITZGERALD: You need to know at the time that he transmitted the information, he appreciated that it was classified information, that he knew it or acted, in certain statutes, with recklessness.

And that is sort of what gets back to my point. In trying to figure that out, you need to know what the truth is.

So our allegation is in trying to drill down and find out exactly what we got here, if we received false information, that process is frustrated.

But at the end of the day, I think I want to say one more thing, which is: When you do a criminal case, if you find a violation, it doesn't really, in the end, matter what statute you use if you vindicate the interest.

If Mr. Libby is proven to have done what we've alleged -- convicting him of obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements -- very serious felonies -- will vindicate the interest of the public in making sure he's held accountable.

It's not as if you say, Well, this person was convicted but under the wrong statute.

FITZGERALD: I think -- but I will say this: The whole point here is that we're going to make fine distinctions and make sure that before we charge someone with a knowing, intentional crime, we want to focus on why they did it, what they knew and what they appreciated; we need to know the truth about what they said and what they knew.

QUESTION: Does that mean you don't feel that you know the truth about whether he intentionally did this and he knew and appreciated it? Or does that mean you are exercising your prosecutorial discretion and being conservative?

FITZGERALD: Well, I don't want to -- look, a person is charged with a crime, they are presumed innocent, and I haven't charged him with any other crime.

And all I'm saying is the harm and the obstruction crime is it shields us from knowing the full truth.

I won't go beyond that.

QUESTION: First, will you actually prosecute this case individually yourself? And, second, have you learned anything about the way the inside of Washington works that surprises you through this investigation?


FITZGERALD: The latter, yes.


FITZGERALD: If we met individually -- I haven't done this individually. I have a great team from D.C., main Justice, FBI in Chicago and it will be a team effort.

QUESTION: If during the course of the public trial information comes out with regard to other people who have leaked the source of the leak or other people who exposed Ms. Plame's identity, will this then reverberate back to you since you had been studying this, if new information is forthcoming during the course of the trial?

FITZGERALD: If I could answer your question with a bucket of cold water and say, Let's not read too much into it, any new information that would ever come to light while the investigation is open would be handled by our investigative team concerning these facts.

So if there's there's anything that we haven't learned yet that we learn that should be addressed, we will address it. But I don't want to create any great expectations out there by giving, sort of, a general answer.

QUESTION: Just to be clear -- you did touch on this earlier -- with the grand jury time being done, you have no plans to file another grand jury related to this case at all, is that correct?

FITZGERALD: No. I think what I said is we could use any other grand jury or avail of another grand jury. We couldn't use the grand jurors whose term has expired today any further.

QUESTION: Can you clarify for us, this is not just the word of three reporters versus the vice president's chief of staff? And I ask that in the sense of how it may be difficult to proceed at trial with memories about something that happened long ago.

FITZGERALD: I can't comment on the trial evidence, and I won't tell you the witnesses. I can't. Sorry. The rules are you don't discuss criminal...

QUESTION: But I guess, to put it another way, why are you confident that this is the right thing to do, given that you're dealing with memories of people from something long ago?

FITZGERALD: What I can tell you is a prosecutor is allowed to lay out the charges, and a prosecutor is not allowed to vouch for the charges. And what I'll say is we're comfortable proceeding.

FITZGERALD: But you're right: Let's go to a trial. Let's reserve judgment. And our burden is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. By indicting him, we're committing to doing that. But he is presumed innocent, and let's let the process play out.

QUESTION: Can you explain in general terms why a subject or witness would be given multiple opportunities to come back before the grand jury? Are there times that you've given the opportunity to set the record straight?

FITZGERALD: I don't want to answer that in this context because I think people will read too much into it. So I'm not going to give a hypothetical answer to something where I think your based upon beliefs that are not hypothetical. Sorry.


I don't want to comment on generally what happens in grand jury investigations when you're here. After we've just returned an indictment from a particular grand jury investigation, there's no way that people would read my answer as other than commenting on this grand jury investigation. That's what I'm trying to say.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) last minute that you would allow a defense lawyer to come in and see you one more time and to make the case -- it was very curious at the last minute there was considerable FBI activity. Wilson's neighbors were interviewed, witnesses were contacted at the last minute.

QUESTION: What are we supposed to read into that, you were just buttoning up your case, you know, crossing the t s and dotting the i' s? There was a considerable flurry of activity.

FITZGERALD: I think -- with all respect I think someone interviewed the person who shined my shoes the other day. We've been doing lots of interests, but if suddenly you put a camera on everyone working on the case and follow them when they have coffee and have lunch, anything we do in the ordinary course of business looks like a flurry of activity.

There was a flurry of attention. I won't go beyond that. Look, when we investigate things we're always going out and doing things. I'm not going to do a time line. We obviously wanted to get as much done before October 28th as we could. I would have loved to have finished the case completely by October 28th. This grand jury served long and hard and was very, very attentive. We're grateful for their service.

So I wanted to get as much accomplished before October 28th, but I wouldn't read anything beyond that. I'm not going to comment on any discussions we had with any counsel.

QUESTION: A lot of Americans, people who are opposed to the war, critics of the administration, have looked to your investigation with hope in some ways and might see this indictment as a vindication of their argument that the administration took the country to war on false premises.

Does this indictment do that?

FITZGERALD: This indictment is not about the war. This indictment's not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel.

This is simply an indictment that says, in a national security investigation about the compromise of a CIA officer's identity that may have taken place in the context of a very heated debate over the war, whether some person -- a person, Mr. Libby -- lied or not.

The indictment will not seek to prove that the war was justified or unjustified. This is stripped of that debate, and this is focused on a narrow transaction.

And I think anyone's who's concerned about the war and has feelings for or against shouldn't look to this criminal process for any answers or resolution of that.

FITZGERALD: They will be frustrated and, frankly, it would just -- it wouldn't be good for the process and the fairness of a trial.

QUESTION: Have you sought any expansion of your authority since February of 2004?


I do know there was a letter, and I haven't looked back. There was a clarified letter...


FITZGERALD: Yes. I think there were two letters in early 2004, and that's it. There's nothing changed since then.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) further issues that you want to look into or anything like that?

FITZGERALD: I'm not looking to expand my authority or mandate and haven't -- I think the second letter is a clarification of the first. Nothing has changed since February 2004 at all.

QUESTION: There's a saying in Washington that it's not the crime, it's the cover up.

Can you just tell us whether if Mr. Libby had testified truthfully, would he be being charged in this crime today?

Also, how do you decide if whether or not to charge Official A?

And also, it's a little hazy I think for many of us -- you say that Valerie Plame's identity was classified, but you're making no statement as to whether she was covert.

QUESTION: Was the leaking of her identity in and of itself a crime?

FITZGERALD: OK. I think you have three questions there. I'm trying to remember them in order. I'll go backwards.

And all I'll say is that if national defense information which is involved because her affiliation with the CIA, whether or not she was covert, was classified, if that was intentionally transmitted, that would violate the statute known as Section 793, which is the Espionage Act.

That is a difficult statute to interpret. It's a statute you ought to carefully apply.

I think there are people out there who would argue that you would never use that to prosecute the transmission of classified information, because they think that would convert that statute into what is in England the Official Secrets Act.

Let me back up. The average American may not appreciate that there's no law that's specifically just says, If you give classified information to somebody else, it is a crime.

There may be an Official Secrets Act in England. There are some narrow statutes, and there is this one statute that has some flexibility in it.

So there are people who should argue that you should never use that statute because it would become like the Official Secrets Act.

I don't buy that theory, but I do know you should be very careful in applying that law because there are a lot of interests that could be implicated in making sure that you picked the right case to charge that statute.

That actually feeds into the other question. When you decide whether or not to charge someone with a crime, you want to know as many facts as possible. You want to know what their motive is, you want to know their state of knowledge, you want to know their intent, you want to know the facts.

Let's not presume that Mr. Libby is guilty. But let's assume, for the moment, that the allegations in the indictment are true. If that is true, you cannot figure out the right judgment to make, whether or not you should charge someone with a serious national security crime or walk away from it or recommend any other course of action, if you don't know the truth.

So I understand your question which is: Well, what if he had told the truth, what would you have done? If he had told the truth, we would have made the judgment based upon those facts. We would have assessed what the accurate information and made a decision.

We have not charged him with a crime. I'm not making an allegation that he violated that statute. What I'm simply saying is one of the harms in obstruction is that you don't have a clear view of what should be done. And that's why people ought to walk in, got into the grand jury, you're going to take an oath, tell us the who, what, when, where and why -- straight.

And our commitment on the other end is to use our judgment as to what we prosecute. FITZGERALD: And if we don't prosecute, we keep quiet.

And we're simply saying in here, we didn't get the straight story, and we had to -- had to take action.


FITZGERALD: I would refer you to Isikoff who took great notes on his question about people not charged, which I cannot answer.

QUESTION: I have four questions.



QUESTION: Now, can you clarify the business question of keeping the grand jury open, which won't be the same grand jury -- I mean, you said you've done the essential bulk of your investigation is finished. Does that mean, in layman's terms, that you're just, kind of, in the mopping up phase, or are there things that you're actively pursuing?

And if so, can you explain to us lay people, bringing this to a grand jury that hasn't been involved for 24 years -- or 24 months -- what does that -- it feels like 24 years -- what does that entail? Do you have to, sort of, start from zero then bring them up to speed?

FITZGERALD: I think it varies on what you need to do, but I just -- you could probably talk to lots of people who don't know the case who could tell you what the general experience is. But if I try to opine on how that happens, there's no way you're not going to look at my answer as telling what's going on with this grand jury investigation, and I can't do that.

QUESTION: Do you feel that Judge Tadall's (ph), Tetogin (ph), other circuit judge's references to evidence of important potential breach of public trust that was carried in your ex parte submissions last year -- do you feel that the charges that you brought now are in line with the submissions you made then and what you said you had potential evidence of?

FITZGERALD: I think there's two questions in that, which I'll say: Is our charge -- does that line up with the secret classified filing? I can't talk about, so I won't comment because I don't want to give you an idea of what's in there.

However, you're asking do these charges vindicate a serious breach of the public trust? Absolutely.

If you're going to have a grand jury investigation into the improper disclosure of national security information and you're going to have someone in the position Mr. Libby is lying to the FBI on two occasions and going before a grand jury on two occasions and telling false testimony and obstructing the investigation, that, to me, defines a serious breach of the public trust.

QUESTION: You had said that the substantial bulk of the work in this investigation is completed. A lot of the players, some of the lawyers, some of the people involved (inaudible) through Watergate, through Iran-Contra, through Monica Lewinsky.

Does this case, based on what you know now, remotely compare to the specter of any of those cases?

FITZGERALD: I don't even know how to answer that. I'm just going to take a dive.



QUESTION: Did you seek any counts that the grand jury did not return?

FITZGERALD: I don't know if I'm allowed to say that.


Someone gave me a big shake of a head no, that I'm not allowed to say it, so I better not do it.

QUESTION: Can you characterize for us at all the dynamic of the grand jury? Were the members tired? Were they particularly active or involved?

QUESTION: Were they worried that this involves such high-ranking officials? Is there anything you can tell us about that?

FITZGERALD: I can only say this. I can't comment on their emotions or reactions, but I'll say this.

They were a very, very hard-working grand jury, very, very dedicated. And I don't think people fully appreciate how an investigative grand jury can be different.

You know, sometimes you can -- fairly routine to go into a grand jury and say, Mr. Eckenrode is going to testify about a bank robbery. Here's a picture of the guy with the gun in his hand, with a note. Here's his fingerprint on the note. And here's his confession. You know, how do you vote?

This grand jury is very, very different.

And what struck me, the one thing that's in the public record, which I hadn't realized would be there, but if you look at the indictment, the indictment alleges that Mr. Libby is charged with perjury in response to a grand juror's question. And it's phrased in there that the grand jury would like to know.

And I just think it shows that the grand jury people take their obligation seriously, they ask questions. And in this country, we have people who probably got notices who thought, What a pain in the neck this is going to be. And it was a pain in the neck for them for two years, but they worked very, very hard, and if they asked a question and someone lied to them, that was vindicated.

QUESTION: Did Bob Novak cooperate with your investigation?

FITZGERALD: I can't comment.

QUESTION: Anything that would prevent anyone who was a witness from telling of their experience, in grand jury rules, I mean?

FITZGERALD: The grand jury rules limit the prosecutors. They don't limit the witnesses.

I know there's a debate out there from people as to who should say what about what, and I'm not wading into that, other than I have asked people, as a request, not to compromise the investigation by talking. And I'll just leave it at that.

QUESTION: Do you anticipate needing to empanel a new grand jury in order to wrap up?

FITZGERALD: I'm not going to comment.

QUESTION: Do you need a new grand jury? Would you need to empanel a new one if you needed to bring further charges?

FITZGERALD: I can't charge myself, so if we wanted to bring charges we'd need a grand jury to do that. But I don't want to comment beyond that.

Here's what I'm trying to convey: We're not quite done, but I don't want to add to a feverish pitch. It's very, very routine that you keep a grand jury available for what you might need.

And that's all I can say because of the rules of grand jury secrecy, and that's it.

QUESTION: Is there any possibility of anybody else being charged?

FITZGERALD: I'm not going to -- I can't go beyond that. Sorry.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) legal jeopardy right now?


FITZGERALD: That one -- that didn't get any better.


You're getting cold, not hot.


QUESTION: You said you couldn't comment outside the four corners of the indictment, but you did make a general statement when you said that all government agencies cooperated.

There were some deferred e-mails that were produced by the White House very late in the investigation that, in fact, in part, triggered the expansion and, earlier, the appointment of the counsel, as I understand.

Do you stand by the statement that all government agencies cooperated? And was the delay of the e-mails inadvertent or purposeful, something you looked at...

FITZGERALD: You built some facts into the question that I'm not going to adopt, and so I'm not going to get into reports in the newspaper that certain things happened, and then if I'm not allowed to confirm it, deny them, build it into a question.

All I'll tell you is I'll stand behind that every agency cooperated with us.

QUESTION: Can you tell just us in laymen's terms -- because I don't know a lot about this -- what is the maximum sentence that Mr. Libby could receive -- that he's charged with all...

FITZGERALD: I believe the obstruction count has a maximum penalty of 10 years. The perjury counts and the false statements counts each have a maximum penalty of five years.

ITZGERALD: So there's four five-year counts and one 10-year count.

Now, for a layman, I would step back under these guidelines called the sentencing guidelines that take certain offenses and they are now nonbinding on the federal judges. But they would take into account all sorts of factors about the offense, the circumstances, the person who committed it, if the person were convicted.

And I don't want to jump past -- there's a trial there. But if they were convicted, the judge would look to the sentencing guidelines for guidance as to what actual sentence would be imposed.

So plenty of room, but there's no mandatory minimum. It's zero to 50 years, and that would be a judge's decision.

QUESTION: Does Mr. Libby have any say, now that he has resigned -- and, of course, you brought this indictment today -- to then come to you and say, Well, this is -- in other words, break open some of these facts?

And are there ramifications, both at the State Department and DOD, that you're then able to also investigate?

And what has gone on -- to what degree has that shaped the speech that Secretary Powell gave at the United Nations that many people have criticized him for?

FITZGERALD: And I don't think I can answer any of that. I'm not going to speculate what Mr. Libby would do, and I haven't been tracking the ramifications at the various agencies. We've had our hands full.

QUESTION: Just to go back to your comments about the damage that was done by disclosing Valerie Wilson's identify, there are some critics who have suggested that she was not your traditional covert agent in harm's way, that she was working, essentially, a desk job at Langley.

Just to answer those critics, can you elaborate on, aside from the fact that some of her neighbors may now know that she was -- and the country, for that matter -- that she was a CIA officer, what jeopardy, what harm was there by disclosing her identity?

FITZGERALD: I will say this. I won't touch the specific damage assessment of what specific damage was caused by her compromise -- I won't touch that with a 10-foot pole. I'll let the CIA speak to that, if they wish or not.

I will say this: To the CIA people who are going out at a time that we need more human intelligence, I think everyone agrees with that, at a time when we need our spy agencies to have people work there, I think just the notion that someone's identity could be compromised lightly, to me compromises the ability to recruit people and say, Come work for us, come work for the government, come be trained, come invest your time, come work anonymously here or wherever else, go do jobs for the benefit of the country for which people will not thank you, because they will not know, they need to know that we will not cast their anonymity aside lightly.

FITZGERALD: And that's damage. But I'm not going to go beyond that.

QUESTION: What happens to Mr. Libby now? What's your understanding? Is he going to be arrested or will he just have to appear at the first hearing? What's your agreement with his attorneys on that?

FITZGERALD: My understanding is we will not be arresting Mr. Libby. We will arrange for him to appear before whatever judge was assigned. You may know who the judge was assigned, but I don't because I came from there to here. And whatever the judge tells us do, we will do.

QUESTION: A federal shield law has been discussed in the wake of your arrest of -- your holding of Judy Miller and other issues in this trial. If there had been a federal shield law, and there may be in the future, how would that have affected your work? Are you for or against a federal shield law protecting reporters' confidentiality of sources?

FITZGERALD: I see there's three questions. Am I for or against the shield law? And I don't think I should, in my capacity, opine for the Department of Justice on the shield law. I know Mr. Comey gave some testimony recently about one proposed shield law. Mr. Rosenberg, the U.S. attorney in Texas, gave written and oral testimony in the Department of Justice. I'm not schooled to tell you what the Department of Justice's position is on the shield law.

I will also tell you there are many people -- and a shield law can be a very generic description.

FITZGERALD: Does it mean an absolute shield, is it a qualified shield? What are the exceptions?

And I've heard lots of people comment that many versions of the shield law would still have allowed us to subpoena the testimony we did in this case.

And I can tell you that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Hogan, who said if there was any qualified privilege, whatever the hurdle was, no matter how high, it was exceeded in this case.

And I think what people don't understand -- I understand why it is that newspapers want sources. And I read newspapers and I'm glad you have sources.

This is different. This was a situation where the conversations between the official and the reporter may have been a crime itself. It wasn't someone saying, Hey, so and so is doing something really, really awful down the hall, but I'm going to get fired if I tell you.

If you're transmitting classified information, it's the crime itself.

But also the reporter is the eyewitness, and what I think people don't appreciate is we interviewed lots of people, very high officials, before we ever went to the reporters.

And if it is apparent the grand jury was investigating to find out whether Mr. Libby lied under oath about his conversations with reporters, how could you ever resolve it without talking to the reporter?

FITZGERALD: You couldn't walk in and responsibly charge someone for lying about a conversation when there were only two witnesses to it and you talked to one. That would be insane.

On the other hand, if you walked away from it with a belief that that conversation may have been falsely described under oath, you were walking away from your responsibility.

And that's why, when the subpoenas were challenged, we put forward what it is that we knew and we let judges pass on it.

So I think people shouldn't read this exceptional case as being something more than it's not.

And I think there's a pendulum that shifts. I'm not recommending that reporters be subpoenaed to my colleagues. I don't -- you know this is not -- we have to maintain a balance. And I think what people will recognize is that this was narrow grounds, that they were justified, that we followed attorney general guidelines, that the court found that we satisfied those guidelines, the court found that we met any bar.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed unanimously. The Supreme Court declined certiorari.

I think we ought to step back, take a deep breath and appreciate what the facts were here that are not the ordinary case before we rush into debates about balancing two very important things: the First Amendment and national security. And I don't take either lightly.

QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, can you say, does your request to witnesses that they not discuss the case publicly continue beyond this point through the trial? If so, how long will it continue for?

And is there a point at which that request conceivably could impede Mr. Libby's right to gather witnesses and facts in his own behalf?

FITZGERALD: I'll be perfectly frank: I haven't even thought about that. It's been a long day, and maybe I need to sleep on that.

QUESTION: Well, but are you continuing to request -- what about the first half of that? You're not sure if you think witnesses should remain silent?

FITZGERALD: I probably need to take a step back and figure out what requests we're going to make or not. I don't want to wing it from here if I haven't thought it through.

QUESTION: You used the phase, not quite done. There will be lots of speculation on what you mean.

QUESTION: Can you help us by being any more specific?

FITZGERALD: No, because I probably -- if I choose other words -- you're reading tea leaves, and don't, because I don't draw a very good tea leaf.

So if you're not quite trying to figure out what's going on, on the grand jury, sorry, but that's a good thing. We're not supposed to tell you what's going on in the grand jury.

I'm trying to let the public know that we're trying to do our job responsibly, we're trying to do things as quickly as we can, and we want to get things wrapped up.

I've got plenty of other cases. I've got a full-time job. Jack has a full-time job in Philadelphia. My full-time job is in Chicago. Everyone working on this case has another full-time job.

So we want to get this resolved, but I'm trying to give you just a brief read out on where we are without compromising anything on the grand jury.

QUESTION: How confident are you that there will be a trial?

FITZGERALD: That's not for me to determine and I'm not going to...


FITZGERALD: That's not a conversation that I have through a camera. And in all seriousness, if any case when I have been asked about people charged with other crimes, when people talk about plea bargains, you have to say, Look, we brought a serious charge. The person's presumed innocent.

FITZGERALD: I'm not going to have a conversation about a plea bargain that assumes a person's willing to admit their guilt when they haven't been proven guilty.

So that's for Mr. Libby and his counsel to decide. And I'm not going to be presumptuous and I'm not going to discuss anything like that on national television.

QUESTION: Maybe we can hone this down just a little bit.

We know that there could not be a conspiracy of one -- and he has not been charged with conspiracy. Considering that with which he is charged at this point, do you believe that Mr. Libby acted alone?

FITZGERALD: I'm going to comment beyond the indictment. Don't read anything into that. But I just -- the indictment sets forth a charge. We're not going to go there.

I've been told two more...

QUESTION: Let's assume we're winding down (OFF-MIKE)


I hope we're winding down.


QUESTION: You said you're eager to go back to Chicago. How long do you think the second phase, the trial phase might last, years, a year?

FITZGERALD: I thought I ducked that question several times.

But if I didn't, I'm not going to put a time frame on it -- as quickly as we can.

QUESTION: And secondly, if you empanel a second grand jury, is it always 18 months or is it 12 months?

FITZGERALD: I don't know. They vary.

And I'm just -- I'm not going to give you any time frame questions because I'll be as vague as I have been already and just waste time.

QUESTION: In the absence of an independent counsel statute, there's been no suggestion here of political interference and the attorney general and the previous attorney general both recused themselves.

But I'm wondering after what you've been through, whether you think the special counsel rules under which you conducted this investigation gave you the absolute assurances that you needed throughout the whole process that there could not possibly be political interference for your team by this or any future Justice Department?

FITZGERALD: Let me put it even more starkly.

There was no political interference whatsoever with my team or our work on this case. That's all I can vouch for.

QUESTION: Did Harriet Miers' withdrawal yesterday have anything to do with the timing of your indictment today?


FITZGERALD: No. You did confuse me.