Mike Isikoff's piece on Rove's role in the Plame case is now up on the Newsweek website. But the picture it paints seems a bit murkier than what Lawrence O'Donnel suggested. For those of you who journeyed down this dark alley almost two years ago, you know that a lot turns on just when in the timeline someone mentioned Plame's name, who went first, just what they knew, and various other details.
What's implicit in Isikoff's report, however, and in the Tribune too, is that the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald is after Rove for some felony arising out of the case (perjury after the fact? conspiracy?) but not the immediate and original act of leaking the name.
There's one other point worth noting here. As we've seen, federal law recognizes no reporters' privilege or confidentiality. But if recollection serves, there are DOJ guidelines which say that prosecutors should exercise a great deal of discretion when trying to compel testimony from journalists. They're not supposed to do it just to tie up a few loose ends, but only if there's real and significant crime they're trying to prosecute. And before they do so, they're supposed to have exhausted all other possible ways to get at the information.
Now, I'm away from my office. And it's the holiday weekend, so I can't get an expert on the phone to confirm that recollection. So leave that as a contingent assertion. If it turns out I've misrecollected this I'll let you know in a subsequent post. But I think I remember it correctly.
Now, you'll also remember that a couple months back the usual ducks on the right were clucking about the whole investigation coming to an end -- and apparently the whole thing had come to nothing.
That particular cluck never quite computed to me because Fitzgerald shouldn't be pressing matter of jailing journalists unless he thinks he's on his way to prosecuting a serious crime.
So just a question: Would Fitzgerald have pushed to get Cooper and Miller in the slammer if some other party in the White House weren't in a lot of trouble?
And one last question: Cooper and Miller are very different kinds of journalists, swim in very different waters. Are they really in this jam for the same reasons?