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October 26, 2005

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here's the standard piece from WaPo. Note Rove:

Underscoring the uncertainty surrounding the probe, two Republican officials said Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, the president's top strategist, is not sure whether he will face indictment as the case winds down. Rove was said to be awaiting word from Fitzgerald, even as prosecutors questioned at least one former Rove associate about Rove's contacts with reporters before Plame's name was disclosed. The White House expects indictments to come today, according to a senior administration official.

You have to wonder if all the rumors about possible indictments and administration officials who have flipped will loose a few more tongues among "high officials." The scenario that David Corn describes (sealed indictments) would, I think, compel a few more people in the WH to make a deal before someone else rats them out.

Ken Starr could have learned some lessons from Fitz, not only about prosecutorial ethics but about building dramatic effect.

For just one example, we really don't know what the last-minute Rove flurry means. Does it mean that Fitz still wasn't sure - as of yesterday! - whether he has a case against Rove, or does it mean he's giving Rove one last chance to come to Jesus.

And why is the whole larger question of the Niger forgery suddenly popping up now? Is it only now coming onto Fitz's radar, or has he been zeroing on it all along?

Regarding the forgeries, here's a question for our legal beagles: Is it a crime to pass on intelligence information that you know to be false? It's obviously a bad act, but did anyone ever think to write it into statute? Espionage law is focused on keeping true intel secrets from getting out, not keeping fake ones from getting in. Would this count as lying to a Federal agent?

-- Rick

Rick, yes. The crime is known as espionage.

18 USC § 1001:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to a party to a judicial proceeding, or that party’s counsel, for statements, representations, writings or documents submitted by such party or counsel to a judge or magistrate in that proceeding.
(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to—
(1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or
(2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.

Hey, emptywheel -- how about that section (c)(2)? And just for fun, does anyone consider the State of the Union address (Constitutionally mandated as it is) to be "required by law... to be submitted to the Congress?"

If there's anyone who hangs out here and hasn't read the Marshall/Rozen piece from last September, here's another link to it. You simply have to read it. These people do not fuck around, and they are committed to their shit and they know exactly what they're doing.

I am most intrigued by the revelations coming out of Italy just now about the Niger forgeries and the interplay between this and the Franklin investigation. I wonder how much Fitz has known about this and for how long? (After all, be seems to have had Libby's notes from the very beginning; someone didn't look too closely at those documents they turned over, I guess.) Could Franklin have spilled more than just about the AIPAC stuff? Could the CIA have given Fitz an earful about some of this?

Everyone seems to be assuming there will be at least some major indictments today, and the press chatter seems more subdued. Yesterday there was far too much downplaying of the importance of coverup indictments. I think Kristoff's statement Emptywheel quoted yesterday that he didn't want to believe that the gov't had lied us into war is still a pretty prevalent sentiment among the DC press corpse. After all, they were seduced and manipulated by these folks for 5 years, not daring to challenge BushCo seriously on much of anything, at least not until he appeared weakened.

And if you give false statements but believe them to be true, what then? After all, this is the original "Team B" crew, who truly believed but were so wrong about Soviet military strength.

Were it not for the forgeries, one might be able to argue that with Cheney it was wilful blindness rather than mendacity in touting the Niger yellowcake stories and the aluminum tubes and Mohammad Atta meeting Iraqi agents in Prague and the close contact between al Qaeda and Saddam and crediting every little lie from Chalabi's lips.

But the forgery caper, by some ex-CIA agents and neocons who had worked directly on Iran-Contra, puts the lie to that interpretation. It was all too calculated, too thought out, and planned for too long, and that's why they had to cover it up.

Let's hope Fitz or someone besides us bloggers can get the country to look at the big picture.

CNN reporting that a source told them there will be no news today. They don't mention a news conference tomorrow, and Kelli Arena said that there doesn't appear to be any reason to have sealed indictments in this case. They reported this like it means nothing will happen this week, and Fitzgerald will either get an extension or close up shop and go home without doing anything. I would be worried if I thought CNN had any credibility at all.

On the other hand, Raw Story says that Libby will be indicted for perjury, obstruction and leaking an agent's name, Rove (who turned down a plea offer) will be indicted on perjury and obstruction (because Libby didn't tell him that Plame was covert) and two other perons not in the WH will be indicted. It doesn't say not in gov't, so would leave open Bolton/Fleitz but exclude Hadley. But it could also be someone from DOD or even Novak or someone outside the gov't. This sounds more plausible to me.

Raw story also links to a blog post by reporter Richard Sale (who broke the Franklin investigation) saying what Raw Story says (Libby for IIPA, perjury and obstruction, Rove for perjury and obstruction) and 2 or three others. But he also says the indictments aren't the last, that Fitz has received permission from the court to empanel a new grand jury and is looking at a further group including alleged forger Dewey Clarridge, Franklin and Michael Ledeen IIRC, and the lobbyists for the INC.

And Sale repeats what I had said yesterday--possible conspiracy charges for violating Wilson's civil rights, specifically ruining his prospects for earning a living as a consultant, using official resources. The info comes from federal prosecutors.

Not indicting Hadley, et al is a pretty good way to get Cheney questioning their loyalty. We already have leaks about others cooperating with the Grand Jury.

Chris Matthews was on CNBC awhile ago ranting about how serious this crime is, after weeks of explaining it away as a triviality because everyone in Washington leaked information. He justified this reversal of position by saying that now they have a body. I missed the first part of his rant so I didn't get his context. Has there been some story in the last few hours that someone with the CIA was killed as a result of the Plame leak?

Here is the link to Sale, who is a former UPI reporter. Franklin was not mentioned, but rather INC consultants Clarridge, former General Wayne Downing and Francis Brooke, the INC lobbyist.

So this means he is going after the forgers, which is good (assuming this is true).

The source for the civil rights claim is "federal law enforcement sources" not prosecutors, as I erroneously said.

And Fitz's investigators were going over matters with Cheney and his staff Friday, which means they aren;t throiugh with him.

IF this is true, and Sale did break the Larry Franklin indictment story, then Fitz truly is going after the big picture, which can only be good.

And Sale's story does not discount Hadley being indicted--he has gotten mixed messages on him.

Yikes. The one time I don;t preview. Here is the link to Sale.

Key line in the Sales piece: The probe is far from being at an end.

And W hits another all-time low in Rasmussen tracking. 41-59, a net minus 18, down 3 from the previous net minus 15.

And some Fitzmas stocking-stuffers here from presidential scholar (and new blogger) Kevin Price, the Daily Pragmatist.

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