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Rove Back Again Before Grand Jury
Los Angeles Times
By Jesus Sanchez, Times Staff Writer
Presidential advisor Karl Rove returned to court today to testify a fourth time before a federal grand jury in Washington nearing the end of its investigation into the illegal disclosure of a covert CIA agent's identity.
The request for additional testimony from Rove, President Bush's chief political advisor, returned public attention to the role that he and other top White House officials played in discussing CIA officer Valerie Plame with reporters. It is a felony to knowingly leak the name of a covert agent, and it is that possible violation that inspired the federal probe.
Plame is married to former U.S. envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV, who wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times criticizing the administration's use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. On July 14, 2003, eight days after Wilson's article appeared, columnist Robert Novak identified Plame by name and occupation in a syndicated column that challenged Wilson's credibility.
The White House has denied that its top officials revealed Plame's identity. But reporters have testified that Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who serves as chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, had discussed Wilson's wife with them in an apparent attempt to discredit the former envoy.
Two weeks ago, New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who was jailed 85 days for refusing to cooperate, was released and testified in the case.
Federal prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has interviewed dozens of Bush administration officials, and some familiar with the prosecutor's questions believe he is looking also at the possibility of obstruction of justice, perjury or conspiracy charges in the case.
The case is troublesome for the White House not only because of the possibility of indictments against top officials, but because it raises questions about the rationale the administration used in going to war with Iraq, and about the tactics it uses against political enemies.
The grand jury considering the case is due to expire Oct. 28.
Times Staff Writers Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten contributed to this story.