The Plame Affair
update: It turns out that my source has sent the same email to others. Billmon has a good summary of the story. I like his last couple of paragraphs.
In the end it probably doesn't matter much -- not unless Fitzgerald surprises us all and walks away without filing charges against anybody. The tension of the past few days has already revved the story into the red zone on the RPM gauge. Once Fitzgerald pops the clutch, it's going to be an absolute media feeding frenzy, even if Cheney isn't on the menu. And if he is?
Well, I guess that's when we'll find out if the dagger in the veep's back really does have the initials C.P. on it.
What follows is some extremely sensitive information about the impending conclusion of the Valerie Plame investigations. The sources include two senior members of senate and key staffers; counsel for individuals that have been called before the grand jury; and two journalists taking a lead position in investigating the case. the following represents a composite of the information from those sources.
Plamegate coming to conclusion. The investigation has focused mostly closely on Vice President Cheney and his staff, as well as US Ambassador to the UN (and former undersecretary of state for arms control) John Bolton and his staff. We are told that eight indictments have already prepared, with the possibility of another ten. These indictments include senior white house staff, most notably Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, Fred Flights (special assistant to John Bolton), and--very surprisingly--national security adviser Steve Hadley. apparently, Libby and Hadley have both been told by their lawyers to expect indictments. the indictment of senior bush political advisor Karl Rove seems highly probable.
Most critically, a plea bargain process has evidently been opened with Vice President Cheney's lawyer. that does not mean that an indictment is coming. but i've some critical background around the issue.
In the past several days, former Secretary of State Colin Powell had a meeting with Senator John McCain (R-AZ), primarily about the McCain-sponsored amendment on inserting a rider prohibiting torture onto the us defense budget (a bill which Powell has himself been lobbying heavily for, against objections of president Bush).
During the meeting, Powell recounted to the senator that he had traveled on air force one with Bush and Cheney, and brought to their attention a classified memorandum about the issue of whether there was indeed a transaction inolving Niger and yellow cake uranium. the document included Ambassador Joe Wilson's involvement and identified his wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert agent. the memorandum further stated that this information was secret. Powell told McCain that he showed that memo only to two people--president and vice president. according to Powell, Cheney fixated on the Wilson/Plame connection, and Plame's status.
Powell testified about this exchange in great length to the grand jury investigating the plame case. according to sources close to the case, Powell appeared convinced that the vice president played a focal role in disclosing plame's undercover status.
In his conversation with McCain, Powell felt that--at a minimum--there would be a serious shakeup at national security council as a consequence. in particular, vice president cheney would no longer hold a pivotal role in us national security affairs. Powell apparently did not discuss the potential of a cheney resignation.
Lead prosecutor patrick Fitzgerald has apparently been looking at the precedent of formerly indicted Nixon vice president Spiro Agnew. this shows the likely path, because addressing executive immunity and privilege questions would necessarily begin start with a plea-bargain deal that would entail a resignation.
This is all likely to occur within the next week. 28 october (next friday) is the last day of the grand jury, and no requests have been made to extend their session. the investigator is expecting to wrap up by then.
There are enormous implication for what would be the biggest white house shakeup since the iran-contra scandal in the Reagan era. President Bush's approval rating at 39% has already led to a significant decrease in policy efficacy with key legislators in congress (which i've already discussed at length elsewhere). i'll spin out the broader policy implications when i have some time to write at greater length, but i wanted to get this out immediately.
One interesting point though--it is worth noting that a parade of senior republican senators have evidently been privately pushing McCain to lobby to be Cheney's replacement. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has also been mentioned. meanwhile, the White House has already been developing countermeasures--notably including senior White House officials privately voicing president bush's disappointment in Karl Rove's involvement in the case, calling it "misconduct." an urgent search for a rove replacement is already underway.