Friday, October 28, 2005

Rove Not Out Of The Woods

Karl Rove’s public relations machine was hard at work last night tipping the media to the fact that Rove would not be indicted today in connection with the CIA leak case, along with Vice Presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby. Rove is far from being cleared from any wrongdoing. In fact, if past is prologue, the indictment handed down today by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald against Libby contains an ominous sign that Rove will eventually be charged as well.

A review of the 22-page, 5-count indictment against Libby reveals an un-named “Official A” as tipping off Libby that Novak planned to write a story about Joe Wilson’s wife. Specifically, paragraph 21 states: “On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, Libby spoke to a senior official in the White House (“Official A”) who advised Libby of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip. Libby was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife.”

“Official A” is unmistakably Karl Rove based on previous news reports. The AP reports: "Columnist Robert Novak revealed Plame's name and her CIA status on July 14, 2003. That was five days after Novak talked to Rove and eight days after Plame's husband, former ambassador Wilson, published an opinion article in the Times accusing the Bush administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq." The date specified in the indictment that Official A spoke to Novak is consistent with the date the AP and other news sources reported that Novak and Rove spoke.

So what’s the significance of Rove being identified as “Official A?” Advance Indiana previously reported on a tact often used by Fitzgerald in highly publicized public corruption cases in Illinois to identify an ultimate target of his investigation in an earlier indictment of a lesser player. In our earlier post on October 18, 2005, entitled “Could A Third Rate Leak Bring Down Bush (If Not Cheney)?”, we wrote: “If history is any guide, here is what to watch for with Fitzgerald. It is highly unlikely that he would announce an indictment out of the shoot against a very high ranking official such as Vice President Cheney or President Bush. Instead, he will target an immediate underling to his ultimate target that he has a solid case against. The indictment charge will refer to the ultimate target as “Public Official A” or “Public Official B.” Persons familiar with the case will have no trouble discerning who the prosecutor is ultimately targeting with his investigation.”

It is interesting to note that the Libby indictment specifically names Vice President Cheney as the source from whom Libby learned of Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA officer who was working in the counter-proliferation division. Why refer to Cheney by name in the indictment but not Rove? Cheney is most likely not a target of the investigation, at least for now, as is Rove. The evidence laid out in the indictment appears on its face to be very compelling. Fitzgerald’s evidence against Rove may not be as strong as the evidence against Libby, at least yet.

Fitzgerald’s indictment of Libby will give him plenty of leverage to use to obtain indictments against Rove or others who the prosecutor believes have committed crimes. Libby’s charges for obstruction of justice, false statements and perjury are serious charges carrying severe penalties. If convicted, Libby faces up to 30 years in prison and fines in excess of $1 million. Fitzgerald may offer a deal to Libby if he gives up additional information about other targets, such as Rove. It is hard to imagine Libby taking a chance on a conviction when faced with the prospect of spending the better part of the remainder of his life in prison.

Fitzgerald has made clear that this is not the conclusion of his investigation. Rove and others in the White House are feeling no better today than they were yesterday.

No comments: