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Leak grand jury meets prosecutor


Leak grand jury meets prosecutor
By Adam Entous
Wed Oct 26, 1:56 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity met on Wednesday with special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald amid signs the prosecutor was preparing to seek criminal charges.

Fitzgerald, who has interviewed many senior White House figures as he seeks the source of the leak, declined comment as he left the session that lasted three hours.

It was unclear whether the grand jury voted on indictments during the secret meeting. An announcement could still come on Thursday or Friday, when the panel could meet again for a final time. The grand jury is scheduled to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.

Fitzgerald's investigation has centered on Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser. Other aides may also be charged, lawyers involved with the case said.

Any charges brought by the grand jury could be sealed, preventing an immediate public announcement by the court or the prosecutor.

Discussing the possibility of sealed indictments, one attorney said Fitzgerald could be acting to put pressure on people involved in the two-year probe.

"The usual reason is to keep something secret from a witness or a defendant," the attorney said. "It could mean he still wants to get people to come back in" and provide testimony or plead guilty.

A new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll found the investigation was affecting Americans' view of the White House, with nearly four in 10 respondents saying they believed Bush aides broke the law.

Another four in 10 said administration officials had acted unethically. The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday.

FLURRY OF INTERVIEWS

The secret grand jury session followed a last-minute flurry of interviews by investigators with CIA operative Valerie Plame's neighbors and a former colleague of Rove, a top White House adviser.

Plame's identity was leaked to the news media after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting prewar intelligence on Iraq. Wilson said it was done deliberately to erode his credibility.

White House officials were anxiously awaiting the outcome of the case since any indicted officials were expected to resign immediately. If indictments are brought, Bush was likely to make a public statement.

On Wednesday Bush had a full day, meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq and congressional Republicans about the budget, making a mid-day speech on the economy.

Both Rove and Libby were at the White House senior staff meeting in the morning as usual, an official said. White House spokesman Scott McClellan would not say whether the leak subject came up in the meeting.

"Everybody's focused on the priorities of the American people. We're focused on the work at hand. That's what we will continue to do. We certainly are following developments in the news, but everybody's got a lot of work to do," he said.

Lawyers involved in the case said it could be difficult for Fitzgerald to charge administration officials with knowingly revealing Plame's identity.

They said Fitzgerald appeared more likely to seek charges for easier-to-prove crimes such as making false statements, obstruction of justice and disclosing classified information.

But there were 11th-hour signs that Fitzgerald could still bring charges for the leak itself.

FBI agents on Monday night questioned some of Plame's neighbors about whether they knew about her CIA work before her identity was leaked to the press. The interviews could help Fitzgerald show that Plame's status had been a closely guarded secret.

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Maureen Dowd's neatly executed tribute to Vice in today's New York Times. That's a TimesSelect link; so here's a very brief excerpt for non-subscribers.

After W. was elected, he sometimes gave visitors a tour of the love alcove off the Oval Office where Bill trysted with Monica -- the notorious spot where his predecessor had dishonored the White House. ...

If W. wants to show people now where the White House has been dishonored in far more astounding and deadly ways, he'll have to haul them around every nook and cranny of his vice president's office, then go across the river for a walk of shame through the Rummy empire at the Pentagon.

Let the Eagle Soar, higher than it's ever soared before.

Ashcroft's the bonor, and the repercussions should be pre-climactic, me thinks.

Unipolar, golden moment indeed !!!!

I'm not one to take pleasure in other people's misfortune, but I have to admit I have a bottle of champagne at the ready... that being said,we need to keep our eyes on the bigger picture. This episode can serve as a good "foot in the door" to help make people aware of all the rest of the lies these people have disseminated. the Niger thing is relatively small by comparison. A critical part of the "16 words" that gets glossed over, by the way, is "the BRITISH government..." the CIA told the administration directly that the info was false, could not be used in the speech,etc.- accrediting the info to the british gov was a sneaky way to get the lie into the speech. It shows clearly and unequivocally that they were INTENTIONALLY and DELIBERATELY LYING.The pump is primed to educate the general populace about DSM and the larger lies.I expose myself mostly to news sources that I trust, therefore what I've been seeing with all these indictments, etc, has been encouraging, but once in a while, I get little reminders that I'm really just a part of a small "choir"- that the mainstream populace is still utterly clueless about the nature of the bush regime. for instance, C-SPAN has a morning call in show- I'm in complete disbelief
hearing some of the commentary. example: the majority of the callers on the plame investigation were saying that Fitzgerald is an overzealous DEMOCRATIC(?) political operative out to destroy the republican party! I can only guess they're trying to confuse him with the smear campaign on Ronnie Earle in the same way they successfully confused Iraq with 911 (I can't believe how many people STILL hang on to that line! and they're still actively using it!)
I guess there have been so many times that the truth has come out where I've thought that the bush admin. is done for,only to find out that he's actually gone UP in the polls, I don't dare think that his time has finally come. I'll believe it when I see it. meanwhile we need to keep turning up the heat!

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