Decision Expected Today in CIA Leak Inquiry

Times Staff Writer

The federal grand jury investigating the CIA leak case prepared for a final day of deliberations as a special prosecutor huddled with his legal team Thursday about whether to seek indictments against administration figures for leaking the name of a covert operative.

Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald was expected to announce today the results of his 22-month investigation, and there were growing expectations that one or more administration figures would be charged with wrongdoing. The grand jury was expected to meet this morning, with an announcement by Fitzgerald expected about midday.

Other than being spotted getting a shoeshine at a barbershop near his Washington office, Fitzgerald made no other public appearances.


The White House -- and lawyers for White House advisors Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby -- braced for the possibility of indictments, although there were signs that Fitzgerald was keeping them guessing to the bitter end.

People close to the investigation said that, as of Thursday afternoon, Rove had received no notice that he was going to be indicted. Some observers took that as a sign that the longtime Bush strategist might emerge from the investigation without being charged.

But others said that Fitzgerald might be waiting until today to alert those being charged to reduce the chances of last-minute leaks about his intentions.

Robert Luskin, Rove’s lawyer, declined to comment. Libby’s lawyer, Joseph Tate, didn’t respond to messages.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

Fitzgerald has questioned both men repeatedly about conversations they had with journalists in the summer of 2003 before the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame surfaced in the media. It is a felony under some circumstances to disclose the identity of a covert agent.

Fitzgerald is investigating whether Plame’s identity was leaked as part of an effort to discredit her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador who had accused the Bush administration of twisting the intelligence it used to justify the invasion of Iraq.


Fitzgerald is also said to be concerned about disparities between some of the testimony of Rove and Libby and that of some journalists the men spoke with. That could lead to perjury or obstruction of justice charges.

Despite speculation about possible indictments, some lawyers involved in the case said that Fitzgerald faced a difficult balancing test in deciding whether to bring charges.

Any case against Libby, for example, could turn largely on the testimony of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who recently told Fitzgerald about three conversations she had with Libby in the days before Plame was identified publicly.

But Miller has said that she cannot recall key portions of their conversations, including whether Libby identified Plame to her by name. Miller’s editors at the Times have recently questioned her truthfulness in reporting to them conversations she had with sources in the leak case. Those concerns could be used to attack her credibility as a witness if Libby were tried.

Any indictments would be a major blow to the Bush administration, which is suffering from a list of woes, including the growing number of casualties in Iraq and the failed nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court.

A decision not to pursue charges, especially against Rove, the president’s longest and most trusted advisor, would remove a cloud that has been hanging over the administration for more than two years.


After appearing to focus on Libby, who is Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, prosecutors this week returned their attention to Rove, quizzing a former member of the White House communications staff, Adam Levine, about his conversations with Rove at the time Plame’s name became public.

Specifically, they asked what Rove had said about conversations with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper. Levine provided no additional information, according to a person familiar with the case. Levine was told he was a witness and had not been identified as a target or subject of the investigation.