Saturday, October 01, 2005

Prosecutor To Bring Criminal Conspiracy Charges Against Rove and Libby?

The Washington Post is reporting in Sunday's October 2 edition that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby were more involved in the "unmasking of operative Valerie Plame than the White House originally indicated." As the federal prosecutor from Chicago, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, brings his two-year investigation of the CIA leak case to a close, the Post reports that he is "considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials." According to the Post story, "Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose."

Lawyers familiar with the case tell the Post that they doubt Fitzgerald has the evidence required to prove a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which requires that government officials knew an operative had covert status and intentionally leaked the operative's identity. The theory is that a criminal conspiracy charge would be easier to prove than a criminal charge under the Act. Libby and Rove testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak case that they both spoke to reporters about Valerie Plame's role in her husband's trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA to investigate Iraq's efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction; however, both have denied identifying to the reporters her name or whether she was a covered agent.

The prospect of the indictment of two of the highest ranking members of the Administration cannot be good news for national Republicans, who are already reeling from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's indictment by a Texas grand jury earlier this week for conspiring to violate the state's campaign finance law's restriction on corporate contributions for state candidates. DeLay was forced to relinquish his leadership position, at least temporarily, to Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt.

Advance Indiana has previously called on the Administration to fire Rove, the chief architect of the Party's current gay-bashing efforts, a federal constitutional amendment to bar same sex marriages. An indictment by Fitzgerald will leave the President no other choice than to let Rove go. But out of respect for the men and women who risk their own lives by serving in covert roles for the CIA, Rove and Libby both should have been fired two years ago based on what we already know about their roles in outing Plame, regardless of whether it rises to a criminal offense.

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