You almost lose your breath reading some of the pre-indictment (or will there be any?) Plamegate stories.
Is Vice President Dick Cheney the target of the probe? The New York Daily News says yes, and, if so, what impact will that have? Will we be in for a repeat of the Nixon administration where Spiro Agnew went (or, rather, was the first to go)?
WASHINGTON – A special prosecutor’s intensifying focus into who outed a CIA spy has raised questions whether Vice President Cheney himself is involved, knowledgeable sources confirmed yesterday.
At least one source and one reporter who have testified in the probe said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is pursuing Cheney’s role in the Valerie Plame affair.
In addition, at least six current and former Cheney staffers – most members of the White House Iraq Group – have testified before the grand jury, including the vice president’s top honcho, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, and two top Cheney national security lieutenants.
Cheney’s name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge – with help from a secret snitch.
“They have got a senior cooperating witness – someone who is giving them all of that,” a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.
US News reports rumors that Cheney could even resign, leaving the path open for the elevation of a certain Secretary of State to the Veepship. Our favorite quote from the item on this journalistic hypothetical speculationfest: “Isn’t she pro-choice?” asked a key Senate Republican aide.” A small taste:
“It’s certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario,” said a Bush insider. “And if that should happen,” added the official, “there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated â€“ another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP.”
Said another Bush associate of the rumor, “Yes. This is not good.” The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn’t get the job or run for president in 2008.
Chris Mathews on Hardball just said: “Franklin Roosevelt said: ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ In the Bush White House today, that’s not exactly true.”
And perhaps for good reason, if a Raw Story report is correct:
A senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, sources close to the investigation say.
Individuals familiar with Fitzgeraldâ€™s case tell RAW STORY that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgeraldâ€™s probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilsonâ€™s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.
Nor does the Washington Post provide anything that should make Cheney smile:
One former CIA official told prosecutors early in the probe about efforts by Cheney’s office and his allies at the National Security Council to obtain information about Wilson’s trip as long as two months before Plame was unmasked in July 2003, according to a person familiar with the account.
It is not clear whether Fitzgerald plans to charge anyone inside the Bush administration with a crime. But with the case reaching a climax — administration officials are braced for possible indictments as early as this week– it is increasingly clear that Cheney and his aides have been deeply enmeshed in events surrounding the Plame affair from the outset.
Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal.
Talk Left analyzes the legal machinations in a must read post (written by a lawyer) that concludes:
I haven’t even included in this calculation the possibility that Fitzgerald is threatening indictments for Espionage Act violations or disclosure of classified information for those who refuse deals. That would raise the stakes even higher.
This is the week that all of the subjects facing Indictment will be faced with their “come to Jesus” moment. Spouses will be telling them to cut their losses and think of the family. They will be forced to juxtapose their loyalty to the Administration with their loyalty to their families and their interest in self-preservation.
My experience tells me that only those who truly believe they are innocent — and those whom Fitzgerald advises are looking at felonies and jail time even with a deal — will hold out.
Speculation: if there ARE indictments, they could come as early as tomorrow.
Likelihood: most analysts and journalists clearly expect some kind of indictment(s).
Outlook: even with dropping polls, things are unlikely to get easier for the Bush administration.
CAUTIONARY NOTE TO READERS: The reality is, no one knows a THING until the Special Prosecutor announces his intentions. The worlds of journalism and blogs are littered with logical-sounding predictions and worst/best case scenarios that never happened. It’s fun to speculate but, right now, that’s all it is UNTIL the person in charge of the investigation announces something definite.
UPDATE: Still more rumors and more names…
UPDATE II: Lots of people speculate on the speculation…