- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2005


Federal prosecutors have accepted an offer from presidential adviser Karl Rove to give 11th-hour testimony in the case of a CIA officer’s leaked identity and have warned they cannot guarantee he won’t be indicted, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, said Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not made any decision on whether to file criminal charges against the longtime confidant of President Bush or anyone else.

The U.S. attorney’s manual requires that prosecutors not bring witnesses before a grand jury if there is a possibility of future criminal charges unless the witnesses are notified in advance that their testimony can be used against them in a later indictment.

Mr. Rove already has made at least three grand jury appearances and his return at this late stage in the investigation is unusual.

The prosecutor did not give Mr. Rove similar warnings before his earlier grand jury appearances.

Mr. Rove offered in July to return to the grand jury for additional testimony, and Mr. Fitzgerald accepted that offer last Friday after taking grand jury testimony from the formerly jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

Before accepting the offer, Mr. Fitzgerald sent correspondence to Mr. Rove’s legal team making clear there is no guarantee he won’t be indicted at a later point, as required by the rules.

Mr. Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, said yesterday he would not comment on any ongoing discussions he has had with Mr. Fitzgerald’s office, but that he had been assured no decisions on charges had been made. Mr. Rove would first have to receive what is known as a target letter if he is about to be indicted.

“I can say categorically that Karl has not received a target letter from the special counsel. The special counsel has confirmed that he has not made any charging decisions in respect to Karl,” Mr. Luskin said.

He said that Mr. Rove “continues to be cooperative voluntarily” with the investigation and “beyond that, any communication I have or may have in the future are going to be treated as completely confidential.”

For almost two years, Mr. Fitzgerald has been investigating whether someone in the Bush administration leaked the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA officer for political reasons.

Reporters have been called before a grand jury to testify about their conversations with Mr. Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.

Leaking the identity of a covert agent can be a crime, but it must be done knowingly and the legal threshold for proving such a crime is high. Mr. Fitzgerald also could seek charges against anyone he thinks lied to investigators in the case.

The leak investigation stems from a July 2003 syndicated column by Robert Novak identifying Mrs. Plame as a CIA operative. She is married to former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. He says his wife’s identity was disclosed to discredit his assertions that the Bush administration exaggerated Iraq’s nuclear capabilities to build a case for the Iraq war.

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