I had hoped Jason Leopold would just go away. It's clear from his own statements in various places that he's struggled with some substance abuse and mental illness issues. He has my sympathy for this. But he's now become a bigger story because he's made such grandiose claims about having deep sources all through the government and somewhere among the investigators or investigated in the Valerie Plame outing. So it's time to come forward and give you some evidence with which to assess Jason Leopold's credibility. I'll refrain from making conclusions, but it's worth putting out there for people to assess.
On January 14, 2006 in an excellent post emptywheel closely examined an article by Leopold in which she demonstrated his claims were not supported by his sources. Leopold showed up in the thread, and things got interesting. Leopold called me a pussy. Some guy named Tom Marconi claiming to be former CIA threatened commenter jonnybutter. Andy Gumbel, a writer at the Guardian, vouched for Leopold. And someone named Adam Yorkshire shilled for Leopold's book.
But here's the problem. If all these comments came from different people, they appear to have all spent that evening together, because all those comments came from just two ISP addresses.
All eight comments from Jason Leopold came from the same ISP address. (Typepad allows the administrator of a blog to see the ISP address comments come from, as well as ban by that ISP.) That ISP was also the address from which we recieved all three comments by Adam Yorkshire. And so did the second comment from Tom Marconi, the one where he threatened jonnybutter. But the first comment from Tom Marconi, as well as the comments by Andy Gumbel and Joshua Klein, originated from a different but common ISP address. Thus, one Marconi comment came from the same ISP address as all the Leopold and Yorkshire comments, and those are connected to the Gumbel and Klein comments by the other Marconi comment.
One could conclude quite easily that Jason Leopold wrote all those comments himself. It would not be out of character, for on another thread a few months later Leopold admitted to posting comments on TNH under the moniker Harry Shep. The ISP address from which Leopold posted his mea culpa was, in fact, the origin of the comments on this thread by HS, and the comments by Harry Shep on these two posts. But I'll only go as far as we can be sure from the evidence here, and just say that at best it's peculiar that Jason Leopold spent the evening with all these characters, and they posted on emptywheel's thread as if they weren't all together, going so far in one case to claim to have been directed to the thread by Larry Johnson.
Does this mean Jason Leopold is wrong in his claims regarding the Plame investigation leading to an indictment of Karl Rove? No. Does it mean that he's a reliable source, and someone from whom one should expect credibility, integrity, and care with sources? I think that answer is obvious, but again, I'll let you draw your own conclusion.