ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT RECUSES SELF FROM CIA LEAK PROBE

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308nato

Platinum Member
Feb 10, 2002
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It is more likely that they were just waiting until Fitzgerald finished up his enditement of Ryan the other day before they announced what was going to take place. Its not everyday you get the pleasure of sending a Nobel Peace prize nominee up the river for what amounts to murder.

But, as always, feel free to conspire away.
 

Bowfinger

Lifer
Nov 17, 2002
15,776
392
126
Originally posted by: chess9
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We'll see if he does a credible job.

Ashcroft did the right thing, but should have done it sooner. Apparently he got some information about the case that is unsettling. This news is bad news for someone at the White House with the initials K.R.

-Robert
Let's hope so.

It's a good step, but I am also curious about the timing. Is it because of a damning discovery re. the treason, or is it a political move because someone decided Ashcroft's involvement was a political liability?

I don't have much personal familiarity with Fitzgerald, but I hear Wilson was satisfied with the change. I figure his judgment in the matter is about as good as one can get.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Bowfinger
Originally posted by: chess9
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We'll see if he does a credible job.

Ashcroft did the right thing, but should have done it sooner. Apparently he got some information about the case that is unsettling. This news is bad news for someone at the White House with the initials K.R.

-Robert
Let's hope so.

It's a good step, but I am also curious about the timing. Is it because of a damning discovery re. the treason, or is it a political move because someone decided Ashcroft's involvement was a political liability?

I don't have much personal familiarity with Fitzgerald, but I hear Wilson was satisfied with the change. I figure his judgment in the matter is about as good as one can get.
Yep, there is always a "but..."

CkG
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
70,090
5,283
126
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
Originally posted by: Bowfinger
Originally posted by: chess9
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We'll see if he does a credible job.

Ashcroft did the right thing, but should have done it sooner. Apparently he got some information about the case that is unsettling. This news is bad news for someone at the White House with the initials K.R.

-Robert
Let's hope so.

It's a good step, but I am also curious about the timing. Is it because of a damning discovery re. the treason, or is it a political move because someone decided Ashcroft's involvement was a political liability?

I don't have much personal familiarity with Fitzgerald, but I hear Wilson was satisfied with the change. I figure his judgment in the matter is about as good as one can get.
Yep, there is always a "but..."

CkG
But that wasn't the but kind of but 'there's always a but' refers to. It was more of an 'and'.

Edit: Sorry, Bowfinger Didn't mean to step on your post. I had it done but jumped up befor 'posting message' cause I almost burned my chicken.
 

Bowfinger

Lifer
Nov 17, 2002
15,776
392
126
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
But that wasn't the but kind of but 'there's always a but' refers to. It was more of an 'and'.

Edit: Sorry, Bowfinger Didn't mean to step on your post. I had it done but jumped up befor 'posting message' cause I almost burned my chicken.
:)
 

Jhhnn

IN MEMORIAM
Nov 11, 1999
62,365
14,677
136
Ashcroft is no dummy. He's stepping away from the whole thing for one of two reasons- either the career of one of Bush's inner circle is going up in smoke, or we'll get a nice coat of whitewash.

The FBI generally doesn't do whitewash, except on their own mistakes... maybe we will see that frogmarch that ambassador Wilson was talking about...

 

chess9

Elite member
Apr 15, 2000
7,748
0
0
Bowfinger:

No one's going to tell Ashcroft to step down. But someone probably told him that there is some evidence implicating someone he is close to. Everyone is pointing fingers at Karl Rove and quite a few reporters know who it is but aren't saying. One of them may tell the G.J., but probably not. Novak has his butt in a sling for pulling that stupid stunt. I think he's getting dumber the older he gets. Why take that heat for that story?

-Robert
 

glugglug

Diamond Member
Jun 9, 2002
5,340
1
0
Originally posted by: Zebo
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Investigating yourself must be nice.
-------------
I know it was for me.
:D

We're not talking bout self actualization here though moonie.

Can't believe a special independant prosecutor is'nt being put forth here. Clinton had several for non-treasonous offenses. This barly is making a wave. Scary thing for the CIA guys still in theater, they know don't cross the administration of you're toast.
I wonder how many will seek asylum with the "enemy".
 

Bowfinger

Lifer
Nov 17, 2002
15,776
392
126
Originally posted by: Jhhnn
Ashcroft is no dummy. He's stepping away from the whole thing for one of two reasons- either the career of one of Bush's inner circle is going up in smoke, or we'll get a nice coat of whitewash.

The FBI generally doesn't do whitewash, except on their own mistakes... maybe we will see that frogmarch that ambassador Wilson was talking about...
Any Babylon 5 fans here? When I think of Rove, I think of this scene between Vir and Morden:
Vir: "I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I'd look up at your lifeless eyes and wave like this. Can you and your associates arrange it for me, Mr. Morden?"
For the rest of you, that frogmarch is OK too.


(Vir is an ambassador's assistant -- good guy; Morden is a human who acts as an agent for the Shadows -- evil incarnate aliens)
 

Bowfinger

Lifer
Nov 17, 2002
15,776
392
126
Originally posted by: chess9
Bowfinger:

No one's going to tell Ashcroft to step down. But someone probably told him that there is some evidence implicating someone he is close to. Everyone is pointing fingers at Karl Rove and quite a few reporters know who it is but aren't saying. One of them may tell the G.J., but probably not. Novak has his butt in a sling for pulling that stupid stunt. I think he's getting dumber the older he gets. Why take that heat for that story?

-Robert
Speaking of Novak, I saw CNN's Crossfire this afternoon (with Novak). They took a couple of minutes to let their two guests discuss the Ashcroft announcement. As the left guest discussed treason, criminal act to expose agents, prison, etc., they cut to a long shot of the whole group. Novak looked unhappy. Really, really, unhappy.

It made me smile.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
70,090
5,283
126
Originally posted by: Bowfinger
Originally posted by: chess9
Bowfinger:

No one's going to tell Ashcroft to step down. But someone probably told him that there is some evidence implicating someone he is close to. Everyone is pointing fingers at Karl Rove and quite a few reporters know who it is but aren't saying. One of them may tell the G.J., but probably not. Novak has his butt in a sling for pulling that stupid stunt. I think he's getting dumber the older he gets. Why take that heat for that story?

-Robert
Speaking of Novak, I saw CNN's Crossfire this afternoon (with Novak). They took a couple of minutes to let their two guests discuss the Ashcroft announcement. As the left guest discussed treason, criminal act to expose agents, prison, etc., they cut to a long shot of the whole group. Novak looked unhappy. Really, really, unhappy.

It made me smile.
Novak belongs at Guantanamo under interrogation.

 

Gaard

Diamond Member
Feb 17, 2002
8,911
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Bush: Not Involved 'In Any Way' in CIA Leak Probe


Bush: Not Involved 'In Any Way' in CIA Leak Probe


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Jan 1, 9:50 PM (ET)

FALFURRIAS, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush on Thursday sought to distance himself from an investigation into whether someone in his administration illegally leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer.
"I'm not involved with the investigation in any way, shape or form," Bush told reporters here after wrapping up a hunting trip with his father and a family friend.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on Tuesday stepped aside from the investigation into who disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame, a secret intelligence officer. Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, has publicly challenged Bush's reasons for going to war and has said he believes the administration leaked his wife's name as a means of retaliation.

Wilson, a retired diplomat, went to Niger early in 2002 at the CIA's request to assess a report that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger. He found the allegation doubtful and the International Atomic Energy Agency later dismissed it as based on forged documents.

But the charge found its way into Bush's State of the Union speech in January as part of the U.S. case against Saddam Hussein. Only after Wilson went public did the White house admit Bush should not have included it, blaming the CIA.

The Justice Department has named a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to lead the investigation into the leak of Plame's identity to newspaper columnist Robert Novak.

Asked whether Ashcroft had made the right decision in recusing himself from the case, Bush replied: "You're going to have to ask him. I mean, I don't know the details which caused him to recuse himself.

"I've told the members of the White House to totally cooperate," Bush said. "And the sooner they find out the truth, the better, as far as I'm concerned."



And neither is Rove. ;)
 

idgaf13

Senior member
Oct 31, 2000
453
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0
Ashcroft recused himself because one of the defendants worked on his campaign when he was a Senator in Missouri.

i like the end of the NY Times article where someone said nobody will be satisfied with this investigation,If nobody takes the fall the Democrats will go crazy
If somebody does take the fall the Democrats will not be satisfied unless the entire administration is indicted.

 

Bowfinger

Lifer
Nov 17, 2002
15,776
392
126
We'll see how it plays out, but it sounds like Bush & Co. already have a neat dodge worked out. It apparently isn't illegal to divulge classified information if you don't know it is classified. Therefore, all the guilty parties have to do is get up and lie with a straight face, claiming they didn't know her undercover status was classified. Instead of justice, we'll get a few clips to add to the Reagan gag reel: "I can't recall," "I have no recollection of that," etc.

But at least we have returned "integrity" to the White House. Must be my own fault for assuming I knew what the word meant.
 

Bowfinger

Lifer
Nov 17, 2002
15,776
392
126
Here's a look at recent events by John Dean on FindLaw:
Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation?
Signs that a Key Witness May Have Come Forward
By JOHN W. DEAN

Tuesday, Jan. 06, 2004

Recently, Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself from the investigation into who leaked the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. Since the announcement, there has been considerable speculation as to why this occurred, and what it means.

Some think the move suggests the inquiry will be scuttled -- and Ashcroft is ducking out early to avoid the heat. But that seems unlikely. The new head of the investigation, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is a high profile, well-respected U.S. Attorney, who runs one of the more important offices in the country, Chicago's. Fitzgerald is also a close friend of Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who announced his appointment. It seems unlikely that Fitzgerald was brought in merely to kill the case.

Others believe that Ashcroft's decision to remove himself suggests that the investigation must be focusing on people politically close to Ashcroft, and that Ashcroft thus pulled out because he knew he would be criticized whatever he did. That is certainly possible.

But as I will explain, I have a slightly different take on what has occurred and why. Here is what the latest positioning of the tea leaves tells me.


The Recent Progress of the Plame Investigation

All signs indicate that the Plame leak investigation has been gaining steam.

As readers may recall, it was in a July 14 column that journalist Robert Novak revealed that Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA covert agent. As I discussed in a prior column, the leak is potentially a felony, and could violate several laws.

According to The Washington Post, on December 23, minority leader Thomas Daschle, and the ranking Democrat of the Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, sent Ashcroft a letter. The letter demanded a status report on the Plame investigation, and urged the appointment of a special counsel. So Democrats have kept the heat on, but that does not strike me as the probable reason for Ashcroft's decision.

On December 26, the Post reported that the investigation was, in fact, gaining momentum, and the Justice Department had added a fourth prosecutor "specializing in counterintelligence" (which I translate as meaning he had all the security clearances needed to work on a case like this). It also reported that "FBI agents have told people they have interviewed that they may be asked to testify before a grand jury." Empanelling a grand jury empowers prosecutors both to serve subpoenas, and to gather testimony under oath.

On December 30, Deputy Attorney General Comey held a press conference to announce that Ashcroft had removed himself from the investigation. Comey said that the investigation would instead be headed by Fitzgerald. Of note to me, was Comey's comment that "this has come together really in the last week" -- meaning, apparently, the week of December 22-26 -- the Christmas holiday week during which the FBI raised the prospect of a grand jury.

As Comey explained, given Fitzgerald's U.S. Attorney status -- which will be continuing concurrent with his "special counsel" status -- there will be no interruption in the investigation. Comey noted that if Fitzgerald "needs to issue a subpoena involving the media, for example, or if he wants to grant immunity to somebody," he will not have to obtain approval of the Justice Department. (The reference to the media certainly hints at subpoenaing Novak's phone records, or calling him before the grand jury -- again suggesting progress in the inquiry.)

On January 2, NBC News reported that the FBI was focusing on the White House as the probable source of the leak. It also reported that the FBI had asked White House staffers "to sign a form releasing reporters from any promises of confidentiality they may have made to their sources."

Not only does none of this activity indicate an investigation that is being scuttled, but it clearly implies something noteworthy has happened in the investigation.


The New Phase Of the Investigation

Not wanting to hype the situation, all Comey said was that Ashcroft withdrew because, in an "abundance of caution," he "believed that his recusal was appropriate based on the totality of the circumstances and the facts and evidence developed at this stage of the investigation." He added later in the press conference that the "recusal is not one of actual conflict of interest that arises normally when someone has a financial interest or something. The issue that he was concerned about was one of appearance."

What facts would raise a serious questions of the appearance of a conflict of interest here? I'd bet that the investigation is focusing on at least one target whom Ashcroft knows more than casually, or works with regularly. After all, Novak did identify his sources as two "senior Administration officials."

What explains the timing of Ashcroft's removal? Recall that the removal occurred as a result of events occurring in the same week the Post reported that the FBI had told potential witnesses they might have to face a grand jury.

Some of those witnesses very probably hired lawyers as soon as they heard the news. Especially likely to hire a lawyer would be a middle-level person with knowledge of a leak by a higher-up. And such a lawyer would likely have gone immediately to the prosecutors to make a deal.

Who might the lawyer be? It's pure speculation, but former D.C. United States Attorney Joe diGenova, or his wife and law partner, Victoria Toensing, are likely candidates. Toensing, as chief counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence worked on one of the laws that may have been violated -- the law protecting the identities of undercover agents. Who better to defend a leaker who might be subject to a law, than the person who drafted the law?

Moreover, Toensing was quoted in a recent Washington Post story explaining that it is possible that any leak "could be embarrassing but not illegal" -- suggesting that a leaker might have a possible defense. (Unfortunately for the leaker, however, as I noted in an earlier column, more than one law may have been broken.)

When the lawyer -- diGenova, Toensing, or someone else -- went to the government seeking immunity for his or her client, Ashcroft would have heard that the middle-level person was offering to finger the high-level leaker. At that point, he would have realized he himself knew the high-level leaker; and decided to recuse himself from the case, and let Fitzgerald take over.

After all, as Comey pointed out at the press conference announcing Fitzgerald's appointment, Fitzgerald -- as a U.S. Attorney -- would not have to consult with anyone at the Justice Department before making an immunity deal. Accordingly, Fitzgerald could "flip" the middle-level person -- offering him or her immunity to testify against his or her superior -- without the permission, or even knowledge, of Comey, let alone Ashcroft.


If There Is a Knowledgeable Witness, What Next?

If there is a witness willing to testify against one -- or both -- of the leakers in exchange for immunity, what then? It seems likely that Fitzgerald will move very quickly to find out if there is indeed a case to be made against the leakers. To bolster his case, he may call Novak and others to the grand jury or, as noted above, subpoena Novak's (and others') phone records over the relevant period. Even Ashcroft himself could in theory be called to the grand jury.

If this case does not make headlines in 90 to 120 days, it will be quite surprising. There has been too much high level action and Comey, a presidential appointee, knows that politically it would be better for Bush & Company to have the matter flushed out within the next few months, than to have it arise just before the November election. Needless to say, this could be an interesting year for the White House, with more than reelection to worry about.

 

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