In one of the boldest moves yet in the 22-month investigation into the outing of a covert CIA agent to a handful of top reporters covering the White House, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is extending his probe and pursuing much more serious charges against senior White House officials, lawyers directly involved in the case told RAW STORY Friday.
While many people were left confused by news reports that said Rove wouldn't be indicted Friday, the lawyers said that Rove remains under intense scrutiny and added that Fitzgerald is betting on the fact that he can secure an indictments against him or other officials on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, the misuse of classified information, and possibly other charges, as early as next week.
“This investigation is not yet over,” one of the lawyers in the case said. “You must keep in mind that people like Mr. Rove are still under investigation. Rather than securing an indictment on perjury charges against Mr. Rove Mr. Fitzgerald strongly believes he can convince the grand jury that he broke other laws.”
The lawyers said that in the past month Fitzgerald has obtained explosive information in the case that has enabled him to pursue broader charges such as conspiracy, and civil rights violations against targets like Rove. Rove could also provide information that would allow Fitzgerald to target additional officials.
Specifically, the lawyers said Fitzgerald is focusing on phony intelligence documents that led to the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity: the documents that claimed Iraq was attempting to purchase yellow-cake uranium from Niger.
A court filing posted on Fitzgerald’s website last week was the first such confirmation that the prosecutor has in fact decided to pursue the broader claims that intelligence the Bush administration used to build support for the Iraq war was flawed and, as a result, the reason many officials inside and outside of the White House went out of their way to out Plame, whose husband was a vocal critic of the Iraq war who was sent on a mission to Niger to investigate allegations that Iraq had attempted to buy Niger from the African country.
"On August 12 and August 20, 2004, grand jury subpoenas were issued to reporter Judith Miller and her employer, the New York Times, seeking documents and testimony related to “conversations between Miller and a specified government official occurring between on or about July 6, 2003 and on or about July 13, 2003, concerning Valerie Plame Wilson (whether referred to by name or by description) or concerning Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium.” the filing made by Fitzgerald last year states.
NATO sources told United Press International Monday that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.
This claim, which made its way into President Bush's State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was later withdrawn by the White House."
Fitzgerald will draw on another grand jury that is already empaneled. Federal law says that a grand jury’s term cannot be extended more than once, which is the case with the grand jury that has been hearing testimony in the case.