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2005-10-28

Suspense Mounts as Indictments for CIA Leak Case Expected Today, Spotlight on VP Chief of Staff Libby Leads to Questions About Cheney’s Role

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Suspense is high and the nation is abuzz with speculations about who may be indicted today in the CIA leak case. Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to announce the results of the 22-month investigation about midday. Rampant speculations that VP Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby will be indicted leads some to ask questions about VP Dick Cheney’s role in the case. [includes rush transcript]

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating whether Plame’s identity was leaked as part of an effort to discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who had accused the Bush administration of twisting the intelligence it used to justify the invasion of Iraq. The spotlight is now on I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and Karl Rove, President Bush’s senior adviser and deputy chief of staff. Rumors are running wild that Libby is likely to be indicted today, charged with making false statements to the grand jury.

The New York Times today reports people officially briefed about the case said Rove will not be charged but will remain under investigation. This could mean Fitzgerald will likely extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond today’s scheduled expiration date.

  • John Nichols, The Nation Magazine

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, suspense is also high right now, nation abuzz with speculations about who might be indicted today in the C.I.A. leak case. The grand jury on the case is expected to meet this morning. Special Counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, expected to announce the results of the twenty-two-month investigation around midday. Fitzgerald’s investigating whether Plame’s identity was leaked as part of an effort to discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson, the former ambassador who had accused the Bush administration of twisting the intelligence it used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

The spotlight is now on Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, and Karl Rove, President Bush’s Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff. Rumors are running wild that Libby is expected to be indicted today, charged with making false statements to the grand jury. The New York Times reports people officially briefed about the case said Rove will not be charged but will remain under investigation. This could mean Fitzgerald will likely extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond today’s scheduled expiration date. John Nichols, what about the whole C.I.A. leak case, the possibility of these indictments?

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, it is likely that something major will happen today. As you mentioned, Amy, The New York Times has mentioned the theory, and it is just that, or speculation, that Libby will be indicted, that the Rove investigation will be held open. We know that on Wednesday afternoon, probably the most significant development occurred and that’s when Patrick Fitzgerald met with the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The chief judge is the only person with the power to extend the life of the grand jury, and my suspicion is, although we’ll find this out as the day goes on, that Patrick Fitzgerald has said that things that he has discovered in the last few days, as well as some aspects of the case that have not been tied up yet, make it a requirement, a necessity, that the grand jury should continue, that the investigation should continue.

On a sidelight to that, we know that Patrick Fitzgerald has just leased substantially larger offices in the vicinity of the offices he has been working out of. So, I think what we’re looking at here is not the end of an investigation into what some folks call Plamegate, but what is really an extension of the dialogue, the discourse, the debate about whether this country was led into war on the basis of false information or doctored intelligence. But that investigation will continue, and that’s a very good thing. Because an investigation that was to stop with the indictment of Scooter Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff would leave open vast questions, and the largest of those questions being: Who in their right mind believes that the Vice President’s Chief of Staff was involved in this, and the Vice President wasn’t?

AMY GOODMAN: John Nichols, you are the author of the book, Dick: The Man Who is President, about Vice President Dick Cheney. What about his role in all of this?

JOHN NICHOLS: Look, I have been writing about Dick Cheney for a very long time and following him in many different settings, and there’s one sort of basic template we can look at with Cheney, and that is everyone says he is a man who (a) wants to have all of the information about whatever is going on, (b) wants to be at the center of strategic decision making, (c) is obsessed with what appears in the media with regard to him and the administration, and (d) is very vindictive. You put those pieces together, and it is impossible to imagine that he was not in some way engaged with the discussions about how to punish former Ambassador Joe Wilson for revealing that the administration’s case for war, a case that Cheney put far more aggressively than George Bush, had been based on a misread — an intentional misread of intelligence.

Bottom line, Dick Cheney is certainly a part of this investigation. We don’t know how far it would go, and frankly, we don’t know just exactly how courageous Patrick Fitzgerald is, because any serious investigation of Scooter Libby and the whole case has to take you to Cheney’s doorstep. I’m not the only one saying that. A year ago when I interviewed Joe Wilson for my book, more than a year ago, we talked specifically about this. And at that time Joe Wilson said, "Look, if you want to get to the people who are most likely to have had the access to the information, the motivation to do something with it, and the ability to move through back channels to communicate about it, you have to go to Cheney’s office." And I asked him, "Do you have to go to Cheney?" And he said, "He’s got to be at the center of it. "

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Ralph Neas, how do you think these indictments, or not — we’ll see in just a little while today. At the time of this broadcast, they haven’t come down — will affect, do you think they will affect the Supreme Court Justice nomination?

RALPH NEAS: Well, I do think it was no coincidence that the President decided yesterday on the withdrawal, knowing that there was going to be a big news day today or sometime soon, so that would end the Harriet Miers story, and my guess is there will be a Supreme Court nomination pretty quickly to try to mitigate the damage done by what’s going to happen today or early next week. This is all really an accumulation of extraordinary situations and circumstances, both with respect to Iraq and the war on terror and Katrina and rising gas prices, DeLay, Frist, Abramoff, you name it. This is all coming together to put the White House and the President at tremendous disadvantage.

His Presidency suffered a blow yesterday. The American people thought, if nothing else, he was resolute and loyal to those who were loyal to him. Well, obviously, he abandoned Harriet Miers yesterday. He doesn’t appear so resolute. I think the indictments today are coming soon, if they do happen, are going to further weaken the presidency. This does not augur well for the next two or three years. And I think it’s going to affect him with respect to Capitol Hill and with respect to his programs. I hope he starts reaching out and tries to govern in a bipartisan manner and try to appeal to 70% or 80% of the American people, rather than the 20% or 30% that constitute the radical right, represented by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and the others on the right. I hope he learns from these recent examples and governs as he should.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ralph Neas, we’re going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you very much for being with us, President for People for the American Way; Makan Delrahim, also for being with us, again, has worked with Justice Priscilla Owen, a former staff head of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2000-2003, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division of the Justice Department; and John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation also with Madison Capital Times, and author of the book, Dick.

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