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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Rove's nightmare

If Karl Rove told federal officials in 2003 he wasn't involved in outing Valerie Plame, he could face charges.

By Joe Conason

To understand why Karl Rove is believed to be in grave danger of indictment for his role in the Wilson leaks, let's return to the earliest days of the investigation. If Rove is found criminally liable for lying, then the falsehoods that led to his downfall may well have been uttered during the weeks when his old friend and client John Ashcroft was still in charge of the leaks probe -- and before the case was turned over to the special counsel, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

During the autumn of 2003, after repeated requests from the CIA, Ashcroft finally exercised his duty as attorney general to investigate the disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity by administration officials to various journalists. Although the CIA first notified the Justice Department as early as July 30 of a potentially serious crime -- namely, a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act -- Justice didn't open an investigation until the end of September, after the CIA informed the department that it had completed its own review of the facts.