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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"They call him Flipper, Flipper..."

Developing story, courtesy of Raw Story, that John Hannah is cooperating with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Hannah is a senior national security aide who has been on loan to Vice President Cheney's Office from John Bolton's office at the State Department, from when Bolton was the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.

Those close to the investigation said in June 2003, Hannah was given orders by higher-ups in Cheney’s office to leak Plame’s covert status and identity in an attempt to muzzle Wilson, who had been a thorn in the side of the administration since May 2003, when he started questioning the administration’s claims that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. and its neighbors in the Middle East. The specifics of who issued those orders and what directives were given were not provided.
According to Raw Story, Hannah was told in recent weeks that he would be facing an indictment without stepping up to cooperate.

Raw Story is sourcing this as "sources close to the investigation," and we haven't been able to track down any corroborating articles or statements to this effect, so take that for what you will. But we'll certainly be keeping an eye on this development and will update when we learn anything further.

According to Raw Story, Hannah is also facing investigation for his role with the INC-run intelligence operation that was being funded through the US State Department.

No word on whether that investigation has dovetailed into the one that Fitz is conducting, or whether investigators in both cases were able to use one another's findings to pressure Hannah into a deal, if one exists, but as a former prosecutor, I can tell you that multiple investigations are often used as additional pressure points to get a potential defendant to flip. And that this is standard conduct that is nowhere near the line in terms of prosecutorial conduct.

We'll update as we find out anything further on this. Hannah would be a good catch, and would be able to provide an enormous amount of inside information on the workings and machinations of VP Cheney's office, if not any connection to Bolton and Fleitz. More as we get it...

(Hat tip to obsessed for the photo link.)

UPDATE: Also, a great read today, as always: Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing in the WaPo.

UPDATE #2: The WaPo's Dana Milbank just reported on Olbermann's show on MSNBC that the Hannah rumor has been circulating in DC "for months, now" but that no one has any confirmation on it. But that there is no doubt that someone has flipped, just based on everything that he and other journalists in DC have been hearing over the past few weeks.