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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Arianna: Bolton/Fleitz Are Original Plame Leakers

Arianna has a post up which seems to confirm what has long been suspected -- that the original target of Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation is John Bolton's office. When I saw Arianna over the weekend she said she was almost ready to go with the story, but considering the ire that has been brought down on her for leaking things like Karl Rove's off-the-record statements, she wanted to be absolutely sure before she ran with the story. Due to the fact that she has been proved fucking right correct about all her Traitorgate stories to date, I see no reason to doubt her sourcing on this one, either.

Specifically, Arianna points to former CIA Agent and Bolton chief of staff, Fred Fleitz, as the person who probably knew Valerie Plame's identity. While he worked for Bolton he also worked at the CIA's WINPAC division, responsible for stovepiping some of the most egregious WMD intelligence to the top of the executive branch. WINPAC was also an original recipient of Joe Wilson's report on the Niger uranium (according to the SSCI, p. 43).

It is telling that neither Bolton nor Fleitz have been interviewed by Fitzgerald's grand jury, this according to Steve Clemons at the Washington Note who predicted earlier this year that Fleitz could well be the original leaker. He also goes on to note that Fleitz does not sneeze without Bolton's approval. But he got it wrong when he noted that Fitzgerald's failure to question both Bolton and Fleitz was an indication that they were not suspect in the matter. As former prosecutor Reddhedd says, the target of a grand jury investigation is expressly someone who would not be interviewed:
In most cases, you are dealing with an investigation with clearly identified targets up front.  Targets are almost never called before the grand jury to testify -- you just use investigating officers, witnesses to the particular crime (e.g. drug deal), etc., so you have absolutely no need of calling in your alleged defendant....In my experience, though, you try to not tip your hand that someone is a target until you show up with your warrant and handcuffs.
According to the US Attorney's Manual, a "target" is a "putative defendant." A "subject" is someone "whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation," as opposed to someone who is just a "witness," and under no suspicion of having engaged in criminal activity. While Rove's lawyer has said that in the past Fitzgerald has informed him that Rove is not a "target," that status can change. And as Lawrence O'Donnell wrote, Rove has made three trips to the Grand Jury. "Three trips to the same grand jury is frequently an indicator of subject status," he notes.

So while Bolton and Feitz may have been the original "targets," Rove and Libby (and untold others) may have morphed into targets as the investigation progressed. With Jailhouse Judy now softening up and reputedly looking to get back to her lucrative book deals and lecture gigs by ratting EVERYONE out, more will undoubtedly be revealed.

Update: Quicksilver has an interesting observation -- when Biden asked Rice in July whether Bolton had ever testified in front of the grand jury, he was probably doing so quite pointedly. And Bush probably thought when he nominated Bolton to the UN last March that his good buddies in the Supreme Court who gave him the presidency would also uphold some sort of privilege for Miller. Which allowed Rove and Libby to scapegoat her as their source.