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

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fitzgerald Back Before CIA Leak Grand Jury on Yahoo! News

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was back before a federal grand jury on Wednesday in the CIA leak case, with deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove still under investigation.

Since the Oct. 28 indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, two more reporters have been pulled into the investigation — The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Time magazine's Viveca Novak.

Woodward has given a deposition about a conversation he had in mid-June 2003 in which a senior Bush administration official disclosed the CIA status of undercover officer Valerie Plame. Fitzgerald is seeking Novak's testimony about her conversations with Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, in 2004.

Fitzgerald did not comment on Wednesday's nearly three-hour grand jury session where the prosecutor was accompanied by three deputies and an FBI agent.

Rove's legal problems stem from the fact that it was not until more than a year into the criminal investigation that he told the prosecutor about disclosing Plame's CIA status to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper on July 11, 2003.

After weeks of avoiding many public appearances with the president, Rove has been noticeably at Bush's side this week.

They traveled together Monday to North Carolina for a speech on the economy.

Rove also rode with Bush in his limousine Wednesday across Washington and listened attentively from the sidelines while the president delivered a speech on Iraq.

In the last grand jury activity in the leak case, on Oct. 28, Libby was indicted on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. Libby resigned and has pleaded not guilty.

For nearly two years, Fitzgerald has been looking into who in the administration leaked Plame's identity to the news media.

Plame's CIA status was disclosed eight days after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, publicly accused the administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat in the run-up to the war.

Rove was not indicted. But Fitzgerald made clear at the time of Libby's indictment that the investigation was not finished.

The prosecutor underscored that point in court papers last month, saying the investigation continues and will involve proceedings before a different grand jury. The earlier grand jury's term expired the day it indicted Libby.

Rove says he did not disclose the Cooper conversation to investigators because he had forgotten it. It occurred days before Plame's identity was revealed by the media.

The presidential adviser revealed the CIA employment of Wilson's wife to Cooper two days after another conversation in which Rove and conservative columnist Robert Novak discussed Plame's CIA status.

Robert Novak and Viveca Novak are not related.

Robert Novak was the first journalist to disclose Plame's identity, on July 14, 2003. Cooper co-wrote a Time article about Plame on July 17, 2003.

Two and one half months later, the Justice Department began the criminal investigation. That led the White House spokesman to check with Rove and Libby before providing public assurances that neither Rove nor Libby had been involved in leaking Plame's identity.

Philippine News Online: Is Ralston still at the White House?

SUSAN BONZON RALSTON, presumably the most influential Filipino American in the Bush Administration has reportedly left the White House.

The former Special Assistant to President Bush and deputy to presidential adviser Karl Rove has reportedly moved to the Department of Commerce, Philippine News learned from a source close to Ralston.

Asked for the reason for the transfer, the source quoted Ralston as saying, “Too much pressure (on the job).”

The media office of the Commerce department said they are not making any statement. A White House operator says Ralston remains in the White House roster.

As Rove’s deputy, Ralston is responsible for managing the activities of the Office of the Senior Adviser, including areas related to policy, strategic planning, political affairs, public liaison, and intergovernmental efforts of the White House. Her bio says she is also responsible for the development and production of presidential and major surrogate events.

One of her biggest tasks was providing coordination between the White House and the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004.

As the highest-ranking FilAm close to Bush, Ralston was able to provide access to American officialdom for certain segments of the community, especially those of Filipino veterans and community affairs. She also paved the way for a presentation at the White House on the issue of the Balangiga Bells.

“Susan is an asset to the Filipino American community, and I am so proud to have opportunities to work with her on some occasions. She is dedicated, hardworking, efficient, an exemplary professional to follow, admire and be proud of,” said Vellie Dietrich Hall, one of two FilAms appointed by Bush to the White House Commission for Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs.

The Valerie Plame case has put Ralston in the spotlight only because of her position as Rove’s assistant. Rove’s role is believed to be critical to the investigation on the outing of the CIA agent, a criminal offense. Ralston had patched a call from a reporter to Rove prior to the media leak.

Prior to her current public service position, Ralston was the Assistant Director of Governmental Affairs at Greenberg Traurig and has also worked for the lobbying firm of Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, LLP.

Before moving to Washington, DC, she was an office administrator for M&J Wilkow, Ltd., a commercial real estate firm in Chicago, Illinois.

Ralston received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of Loyola at Chicago and has an M.B.A. from Keller Graduate School of Management.

She and her husband Troy currently reside in Woodbridge, VA.

Fitzgerald Presents New Information to Grand Jury

First Appearance in Probe Since Libby Indictment

By Carol Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 7, 2005; 9:48 AM

Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald appeared this morning to present information to a new grand jury in the CIA leak investigation.

Fitzgerald has been probing for two years what role senior Bush administration officials have played in leaking a CIA operative name to the media in 2003.

Today's appearance was the first time that Fitzgerald has gone back to a grand jury since the Oct. 28 indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

At that time, the original grand jury probing the case expired.

With the new grand jury, Fitzgerald continues to consider charges against White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who failed to reveal to the FBI and the grand jury in the early days of the investigation that he had provided information about CIA analyst Valerie Plame to Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.

Fitzgerald has spent the past two years investigating whether any Bush administration officials disclosed Plame's name and employment at the CIA as part of an effort to discredit allegations by her husband, former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson IV, that President Bush had twisted intelligence to justify the Iraq war.

Fitzgerald has not charged anyone with the crime he originally set out to investigate: the illegal disclosure of a covert CIA operative's identity. Instead, he has focused on alleged wrongdoing in the course of the investigation.

The most recent new twist involves Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward. Woodward told Fitzgerald last month that he had discussed Plame with a senior administration official -- and that the official was someone other than Libby -- before Libby's first conversation with another reporter about Plame.

The Libby legal team cheered Woodward's testimony, calling it "a bombshell" and contending that it undercut Fitzgerald's case that Libby was the first official known to have talked about Plame and her CIA status with a reporter.

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