Wednesday, October 12, 2005

But Wait, There’s More!

Raw Story and Josh Marshall at TPM say that the Wall Street Journal is reporting that prosecutors think that the Plame/Rove leak investigation may be just the tip of the iceberg; the tape on the door at the Watergate, if you will. They are looking into earlier contacts between the administration and reporters that indicate there was a “broader conspiracy” about how to handle the news leaks over the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Earlier conversations are potentially significant, because that suggests the special prosecutor leading the investigation is exploring whether there was an effort within the administration at an early stage to develop and disseminate confidential information to the press that could undercut former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Central Intelligence Agency official Valerie Plame.

Mr. Wilson had become a thorn in the Bush administration’s side, as he sought to undermine the administration’s claims that Iraq had sought to buy materials for building nuclear weapons from other countries, such as uranium “yellowcake” from Niger. Ultimately, his wife’s name and identity were disclosed in a newspaper column, prompting the investigation into whether someone in the administration broke the law by revealing the identity of an undercover agent.

Until now, Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to be focusing on conversations between White House officials such as Mr. Libby and Karl Rove, President Bush’s senior political adviser, after Mr. Wilson wrote his op-ed. The defense by Republican operatives has been that White House officials didn’t name Ms. Plame, and that any discussion of her was in response to reporters’ questions about Mr. Wilson, the kind of casual banter that occurs between sources and reporters.

Mr. Rove, who has already testified three times before the grand jury and was identified by a Time magazine reporter as a source for his story on Mr. Wilson, is expected to go back to the grand jury, potentially as early as today, to clarify earlier answers.

Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group. Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. Rove and Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion. The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to Mr. Wilson’s claims.

I’m sure the right wing will go into orbit over an out-of-control prosecutor who seems bent on pursuing a personal vendetta rather than getting at the truth, which was nothing more than that Karl Rove or somebody had a slight lapse of judgement when they talked to a reporter. After all, it wasn’t like a real estate sale in Arkansas that went bad or anything like that. And it’s so typical of the liberal media like the Wall Street Journal to unleash attacks on the president and his staff when the real evil-doers like hurricanes and earthquakes are still out there wreaking havoc.