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Plame Case Grand Jury;
Walls Closing In On Rove and Cheney

July 7, 2005 (EIRNS)—The New York Times reported that in yesterday's contempt hearing for Judith Miller of the Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, Federal Judge Thomas Hogan suggested that the reporters' refusal to testify regarding the "outing" of CIA operative Valerie Plame—which until now has been a civil proceeding—may have gone over to the realm of criminal law. "It could be seen to be obstruction of justice," the Times quotes Judge Hogan.

Hogan appears to have been responding to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's request in his memorandum prepared for the hearing, that "the Court should advise Miller that if she persists in defying the Court's Order that she will be committing a crime." The context of this request is the memorandum's point that having had the opportunity to appeal, without success, for Miller to continue to refuse to comply is a violation of a court order, which is a crime. In its closing lines, the memorandum says, "But if Miller maintains her defiant intent to commit the crime of contempt, the Court will on this rare occasion be looking at a person whose crime in many respects lies ahead of her."

Of particular interest in the Times' coverage is its report that Matthew Cooper's decision to testify before the grand jury "followed discussions on Wednesday morning among lawyers representing Mr. Cooper and Karl Rove, the White House senior political advisor, according to a person who has been officially briefed on the case." The person briefed on the case further said that though Cooper did not mention Rove in his statement before Judge Hogan agreeing to testify because he'd been released from confidentiality by his source, Rove was the person to whom he was referring.

The footsteps of the investigation are getting louder around Rove, and also Dick Cheney. In an article posted on HuffintonPost.com., "The One Very Good Reason Karl Rove Might Be Indicted," Lawrence O'Donnell lists the reasons why an indictment would be difficult, centering on whether Rove knew that Valerie Plame was a covert agent. He then describes an opinion in U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David Tatel's opinion ordering Miller and Cooper to testify, an opinion which in its public version has eight blank pages in the middle, "where he discusses the secret information the prosecutor has supplied only to the judges to convince them that the testimony he is demanding is worth sending reporters to jail to get." O'Donnell notes that though the press is currently suggesting that the prosecutor has given up the leak case in favor of a perjury case, Tatel referred to it as a case "which involves the alleged exposure of a covert agent," and in the final paragraph of his opinion, says he might have let Cooper and Miller off the hook "were the leak at issue in this case less harmful to national security."

In the Chicago Tribune's coverage, reporter John Kass writes that portrayal of Fitzgerald (who is U.S. Attorney in Chicago) as "a mad zealot" is wrong: "... actually, all he's doing in Washington is what he does in Chicago on political corruption cases: climb the ladder by using charges of perjury and lying to Federal authorities as leverage to further loosen witnesses' tongues. I figure — and I'm only speculating here — that he's in the White House already, and that either Bush Rasputin Karl Rove or Vice President Dick Cheney, or one of their top aides, has something to worry about."