"below, some extremely sensitive information about the impending
conclusion of the valerie plame investigations. the sources include
two senior members of senate and key staffers; counsel for individuals
have been called before the grand jury; and two journalists taking
a lead position in investigating the case. the following represents
of the information from those sources.
plamegate coming to conclusion. the investigation has focused mostly
closely on vice president cheney and his staff, as well as us ambassador
to the un (and former undersecretary of state for arms control) john
bolton and his staff. we are told that eight indictments have already
prepared, with the possibility of another ten. these indictments include
senior white house staff, most notably vice president cheney's chief
of staff scooter libby, fred flights (special assistant to john bolton),
and--very surprisingly--national security adviser steve hadley. apparently,
libby and hadley have both been told by their lawyers to expect indictments.
the indictment of senior bush political advisor karl rove seems highly
most critically, a plea bargain process has evidently been opened with
vice president cheney's lawyer. that does not mean that an indictment
is coming. but i've some critical background around the issue.
in the past several days, former secretary of state colin powell had
a meeting with senator john mccain (R-AZ), primarily about the mccain-sponsored
amendment on inserting a rider prohibiting torture onto the us defense
budget (a bill which powell has himself been lobbying heavily for, against
objections of president bush).
during the meeting, powell recounted to the senator that he had traveled
on air force one with bush and cheney, and brought to their attention
a classified memorandum about the issue of whether there was indeed a
transaction inolving niger and yellow cake uranium. the document included
ambassador joe wilson's involvement and identified his wife, valerie
plame, as a covert agent. the memorandum further stated that this information
was secret. powell told mccain that he showed that memo only to two people--president
and vice president. according to powell, cheney fixated on the wilson/plame
connection, and plame's status.
powell testified about this exchange in great length to the grand jury
investigating the plame case. according to sources close to the case,
powell appeared convinced that the vice president played a focal role
in disclosing plame's undercover status.
in his conversation with mccain, powell felt that--at a minimum--there
would be a serious shakeup at national security council as a consequence.
in particular, vice president cheney would no longer hold a pivotal role
in us national security affairs. powell apparently did not discuss the
potential of a cheney resignation.
lead prosecutor patrick fitzgerald has apparently been looking at the
precedent of formerly indicted nixon vice president spiro agnew. this
shows the likely path, because addressing executive immunity and privilege
questions would necessarily begin start with a plea-bargain deal that
would entail a resignation.
this is all likely to occur within the next week. 28 october (next friday)
is the last day of the grand jury, and no requests have been made to
extend their session. the investigator is expecting to wrap up by then.
there are enormous implication for what would be the biggest white house
shakeup since the iran-contra scandal in the reagan era. president bush's
approval rating at 39% has already led to a significant decrease in policy
efficacy with key legislators in congress (which i've already discussed
at length elsewhere). i'll spin out the broader policy implications when
i have some time to write at greater length, but i wanted to get this
one interesting point though--it is worth noting that a parade of
senior republican senators have evidently been privately pushing mccain
to be cheney's replacement. senator lindsey graham (R-SC) has also
been mentioned. meanwhile, the white house has already been developing
including senior white house officials privately voicing president
bush's disappointment in karl rove's involvement in the case, calling
an urgent search for a rove replacement is already underway."