On Friday, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff was charged with obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury, and making false statements to FBI agents, the AP reported -- five felony counts that together could lead to a maximum of 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.[1]  --  The trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, one of the neoconservatives dominating U.S. foreign policy in the Bush administration and a founding member of the Project for a New American Century, “could renew the focus on the administration's faulty rationale for going to war against Iraq the erroneous assertion that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction,” wrote reporter John Solomon.  --  “A trial would give the public a rare glimpse into Cheney's influential role in the West Wing and his behind-the-scenes lobbying for the war. The vice president, who prizes secrecy, could be called as a witness.”  --  The Times of London suggested that President George W. Bush might be called as a witness in the trial.[2]  --  But Gerard Baker of the London Times said that “it looked last night as though the fallout from the investigation was at the lower end of White House fears and its critics’ hopes.[3]  --  Mr. Rove, the biggest fish of all, seems to be off the hook; the grand jury that indicted Mr. Libby was dismissed yesterday and cannot be reconstituted.  Nobody other than Mr. Libby in the Vice-President’s office was charged with a crime.  There was no suggestion of a conspiracy in the indictments. Anyone who thought the results of the inquiry would open a new front in the fight over the war in Iraq was almost certainly disappointed.  --  Perhaps most strikingly, Mr. Libby was not charged with any offence directly related to the reasons the investigation was established in the first place.  Mr. Fitzgerald did not allege that the Vice-President’s Chief of Staff illegally and knowingly revealed to reporters the identity of Valerie Plame, the CIA agent.”  --  According to Baker, “there was a sense in Republican circles yesterday that it could have been a lot worse.”  --  Alex Massie of the Scotsman had a different take.  --  Noting that “Any trial would dig into the secret deliberations of Mr. Bush and his team as they built the case for war against Iraq,” Massie said the indictment of Libby was “plunging the Bush administration into turmoil.”[4]  --  Massie pointed out that Libby is more than just an aide:  “Mr. Libby played a big role in preparing the case for toppling Saddam Hussein, writing much of the first draft of Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation at the U.N. that did a lot to convince sceptics that military action against Iraq was necessary.”  --  Julian Borger of the Guardian agreed about the seriousness of the indictment, calling the Bush administration “profoundly damaged.”[5]  --  Andrew Gumbel of the London Independent praised Patrick Fitzgerald for running “an astonishing investigation,” which “has done what the media and the Democratic Party have shied away from and unpicked a plethora of inconsistencies, distortions, and apparent out-and-out lies.”  --  Fitzgerald’s indictment indicates not only that Scooter Libby is a liar, but also Vice President Dick Cheney, Bush adviser Karl Rove, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Gumbel said. .  --  And “President Bush himself was forced to back down after saying he would fire anyone found to be involved in the leak.” ...

1.

Breaking News

CHENEY ADVISER RESIGNS AFTER INDICTMENT
By John Solomon

** I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, VP’s Chief of Staff, Resigns after Being Indicted in CIA Leak Case **

Associated Press
October 28, 2005

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=1260686

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff resigned Friday after he was indicted by a grand jury, accused of obstructing its investigation and lying about an effort to blow the CIA cover of an Iraq war critic's wife.

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby became the first high-ranking White House official in decades to be criminally charged while still in office. A second key figure in the two-year CIA leak investigation, presidential strategist Karl Rove, was spared from criminal charges for the time being.

Libby wasn't indicted specifically for the leak, but special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald left little doubt that he believed Cheney's top aide learned Valerie Plame's classified identity from the CIA, State Department, and his own boss and then revealed it to reporters.

"It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security," the prosecutor said. "Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter."

Though Cheney was one of the officials who told Libby about Plame's secret work for the CIA before it was leaked to reporters, Fitzgerald said he wasn't alleging any wrongdoing by the vice president.

"I'm not making allegations about anyone not charged in the indictment," he said.

Libby's attorney, Joseph Tate, promised to vigorously challenge the charges.

The 22-page indictment was the latest blow in one of the darkest weeks of the Bush presidency, which also saw the 2,000th U.S. military death in Iraq and the embarrassing withdrawal of Harriet Miers as Bush's Supreme Court nominee.

Bush, whose approval rating is near the lowest point of his presidency, praised Libby's years of government service but acknowledged the "ongoing legal proceedings are serious."

"In our system, each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial," the president said.

Fitzgerald's investigation is nearing an end, and the grand jury he used for the past two years expired Friday. But he said, "It's not over," declining to address Rove's fate. The prosecutor is still weighing whether to charge Bush's closest adviser with false statements, lawyers said.

Friday's charges stemmed from a two-year investigation into whether Rove, Libby, or any other administration officials knowingly revealed Plame's identity in summer 2003 to punish her husband, Joseph Wilson, for his criticism of the Bush administration's use of prewar Iraq intelligence.

In the end, like so many other Washington scandals, prosecutors zeroed in on an alleged cover-up.

Libby, 55, was charged with five felonies alleging obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents. He could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and $1.25 million fines if convicted.

Fitzgerald suggested that proving Libby lied to the grand jury would be an easier case to make than showing he intentionally revealed a secret officer's cover. Specifically, the prosecutors alleged Libby concocted a false story that he got Plame's name from reporters and passed it on to others when in fact he got the information from classified sources.

"Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true. It was false," the prosecutor said. "And he lied about it afterward, under oath, repeatedly."

Cheney said he accepted the resignation with regret because Libby is "one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known."

The closest to bright news Friday for the White House was the word from Rove's attorney that the presidential confidant was not being indicted along with Libby.

Fitzgerald has been looking for weeks at whether Rove gave false testimony during his four grand jury appearances. Rove's lawyer waged a furious effort in recent weeks to convince the prosecutor that any misstatements were unintentional or were corrected.

"The special counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he has made no decision about whether or not to bring charges," attorney Robert Luskin said. "We are confident that when the special counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong."

Libby's indictment paves the way for a trial that could renew the focus on the administration's faulty rationale for going to war against Iraq the erroneous assertion that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Libby is considered Cheney's alter ego, a chief architect of the war with Iraq. A trial would give the public a rare glimpse into Cheney's influential role in the West Wing and his behind-the-scenes lobbying for the war. The vice president, who prizes secrecy, could be called as a witness.

Democrats suggested the indictment was just the tip of the iceberg. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the case was "about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president."

Hoping to contain the damage, some Republicans distanced themselves from Libby. Others said the legal system should run its course.

"It's time to stop the leaks and spin and turn Washington into one big recovery meeting where people say what they mean and mean what they say," said Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said through a spokesman that the Senate won't investigate the CIA leak.

Bush ordered U.S. troops to war in March 2003, saying Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program posed a grave and immediate threat to the United States. When no such weapons were found, the administration came under increased criticism for using faulty intelligence to make its case for war.

It was during the height of that debate that Plame's identity as a covert CIA officer was leaked in July 2003.

Her name was published just a little over a week after her husband wrote a newspaper opinion piece suggesting the administration had twisted prewar intelligence, and describing how he had gone to Africa in 2002 to check on claims Saddam had tried to buy nuclear materials.

Wilson said he couldn't validate the uranium claim but Bush later used it anyway.

Wilson alleged the leak of his wife's name was retaliation for his criticism, and he said Friday that "when an indictment is delivered to the front door of the White House, the office of the president is defiled."

The indictment alleges Libby began digging for details about Wilson well before the former ambassador went public July 6, 2003.

Libby made his first inquiries about Wilson's travel to Niger in late May 2003, and by June 11 Libby was informed by a CIA official that Wilson's wife worked for the agency and might have sent him on the trip. Libby also heard it from Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, the indictment said.

On June 12, 2003, the indictment alleged, Libby heard directly from Cheney that Plame worked for the spy agency.

"Libby was advised by the vice president of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA in the counterproliferation division. Libby understood that the vice president had learned this information from the CIA," Fitzgerald said.

A short time later, the indictment said, Libby began spreading information to reporters, starting with the New York Times' Judith Miller on June 23.

The indictment said a substantial number of people in the White House knew about Plame's CIA status before the publication of Robert Novak's column on July 14, 2003, the first public mention including former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who was mentioned by title but not name in the legal filing.

Among the false statements Libby is accused of making is that he learned of Plame's identity from NBC reporter Tim Russert. In fact, Fitzgerald said, Libby knew it long before that conversation and Russert didn't even discuss it with him.

One of the dramatic parts of the two-year investigation was Fitzgerald's successful attempt which reached all the way to the Supreme Court to force several reporters to reveal their confidential sources. Miller, in fact, spent more than 80 days in jail before agreeing to testify.

Fitzgerald said Friday he wasn't spoiling for a "First Amendment showdown" with the news media but believed reporters were essential witnesses in this case.

"I do not think that a reporter should be subpoenaed anything close to routinely. It should be an extraordinary case," he said. "But if you're dealing with a crime, and what's different here is the transaction is between a person and a reporter, they're the eyewitness to the crime."

2.

Americas

LEAKERS, LIES, AND SPIES PUT THE HEAT ON BUSH
By Tim Reid

Times (London)
October 29, 2005

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-1848070,00.html

The chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney resigned last night after being charged with perjury and obstruction of justice over his role in the politically explosive investigation over who leaked a CIA official’s identity.

Lewis “Scooter” Libby was accused of lying to FBI agents and a grand jury investigating the leak. He now faces a trial in which Mr Cheney, and possibly even President Bush, could be key witnesses.

The five indictments came at the end of one of the worst weeks in Mr. Bush’s presidency, with the U.S. death toll in Iraq passing 2,000 and his choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court derailed by a revolt within his own Republican party.

Mr. Bush said that he was “saddened” by Mr. Libby’s indictment but that he and his White House “remained focused.” The President’s approval ratings had already plunged over his handling of the Hurricane Katrina emergency.

Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief adviser who had been under investigation, was not indicted yesterday. Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, implied that charges were unlikely.

Mr. Libby’s obstruction of justice, perjury, and false statement charges stem from a two-year investigation into whether any White House officials deliberately leaked the name of Valerie Plame, the CIA agent, whose husband had become a critic of the Bush Administration over the war in Iraq.

The charges raise the prospect of a trial turning the spotlight on how the Administration built its case for war and on Mr Cheney. He was named in indictments but not accused.

Mr. Libby, 55, is accused of lying about how and when he learnt about Ms. Plame’s identity in 2003, and how he came to pass information about her to reporters. The indictment states that Mr. Libby told investigators that he learnt about Ms Plame’s CIA status from an NBC journalist.

Instead, he learnt it from Mr. Cheney, the indictment says, thrusting the Vice-President to the heart of the scandal.

3.

Americas

Commentary

ROVE DODGES THE BULLET AS A CLOUD HANGS OVER THE WHITE HOUSE
By Gerard Baker

Times (London)
October 29, 2005

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-1847953,00.html

As Patrick Fitzgerald’s criminal inquiry into the CIA leak case approached its climax in the last week or two, a swirl of rumours based on whispers and half-leaks from lawyers swept Washington.

As well as indicting “Scooter” Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, for his role in the outing of a CIA agent’s identity, the prosecutor was going to nail Karl Rove, the president’s chief political strategist. There might be damning references in the prosecutor’s conclusions to Mr. Cheney himself, as well as evidence of a broader conspiracy by the Vice-President’s office to illegally discredit its critics.

The principal crime alleged -- that a CIA agent’s name was deliberately leaked by White House officials to undermine her husband who had cast doubt on the Bush Administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction -- would undermine the whole justification for the Iraq war.

The scale of the hopes being placed in the 44-year-old prosecutor by President Bush’s critics was such that they had a name for the eagerly anticipated day on which Mr Fitzgerald would publish his findings: “Fitzmas”.

But when Fitzmas came yesterday, it wasn't quite as big an event as at one point seemed possible.

True, Mr. Fitzgerald did indeed secure the grand jury indictment of Scooter Libby, Mr. Cheney’s Chief of Staff, on five counts of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice. And he did caution that his investigation was continuing, at least for a while.

But it looked last night as though the fallout from the investigation was at the lower end of White House fears and its critics’ hopes.

Mr. Rove, the biggest fish of all, seems to be off the hook; the grand jury that indicted Mr. Libby was dismissed yesterday and cannot be reconstituted. Nobody other than Mr. Libby in the Vice-President’s office was charged with a crime. There was no suggestion of a conspiracy in the indictments. Anyone who thought the results of the inquiry would open a new front in the fight over the war in Iraq was almost certainly disappointed.

Perhaps most strikingly, Mr Libby was not charged with any offence directly related to the reasons the investigation was established in the first place. Mr Fitzgerald did not allege that the Vice-President’s Chief of Staff illegally and knowingly revealed to reporters the identity of Valerie Plame, the CIA agent.

Instead, Mr. Libby was accused of lying to FBI agents and to the grand jury investigating the case during the course of Mr Fitzgerald’s inquiry.

This does not, of course, make the alleged offences any less serious. Mr Fitzgerald said yesterday that it was possible that Mr Libby’s actions had helped to undermine national security. Mr. Libby has become the first senior White House official to be indicted in more than a hundred years. Though he is innocent until proved guilty, he was forced to resign yesterday, an obvious embarrassment to the White House, especially one headed by a president who came to office in 2001 after the scandals of the Clinton years promising to bring “honour and integrity” back to the office. P> And there will be a trial at some point in the next year or two, unless Mr Libby seeks a plea bargain. That is bound to be awkward for the Bush Administration. That will involve testimony from Mr. Libby and other White House officials, perhaps even from the Vice-President. That will produce further legal pressure on the likes of Mr. Rove and others and is certain to be politically difficult, perhaps during an election campaign.

And yet Mr. Libby’s personal legal problems do not necessarily prefigure another round of political problems for a White House that has faced a startling series of setbacks in recent weeks. In the *dramatis personae* of America’s political soap opera, the Chief of Staff to the Vice-President does not rank very high. It is doubtful that one American in a hundred could name any of Mr Libby’s predecessors in the last 50 years. Mr Rove would have been a much bigger loss; if he is finally cleared of wrongdoing, he will presumably go back to being a powerful force at the President’s side.

It’s been a bad week for President Bush, one in which he has lost a Supreme Court nominee to political pressure and a White House official to an indictment. But there was a sense in Republican circles yesterday that it could have been a lot worse.

WHY IT TURNED INTO A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

WHAT HAS THE GRAND JURY BEEN INVESTIGATING?

A grand jury, overseen by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, has been investigating whether U.S. government officials deliberately leaked to the press the name of a CIA agent in 2003 to discredit a critic of the Bush Administration.

WHO IS THE AGENT?

Valerie Plame, who is married to Joseph Wilson, a former diplomat. He was sent by the CIA to the west African state of Niger in 2002 to investigate pre-Iraq war reports that Iraq had tried to buy uranium there. He could not substantiate the reports, but Bush still used them in his January 2003 State of the Union speech. Mr Wilson wrote a New York Times article accusing the Administration of “twisting” prewar intelligence to build the case for war. Mr. Wilson also implied that he went to Niger at the behest of the office of the Vice-President, Dick Cheney.

HOW WAS MS. PLAME’S NAME MADE PUBLIC?

A week after Mr. Wilson’s article, Robert Novak, a conservative columnist, reported that two senior administration officials told him that Mr. Wilson had been sent to Niger by his wife -- “a CIA employee orking on weapons of mass destruction.”

WHY WAS HER NAME LEAKED?

Mr. Wilson accused the White House of deliberately unmasking her to destroy her career and as retribution for his Iraq war criticism. Republicans insisted that nobody in the White House knew Ms. Plame was a CIA agent, or maliciously “outed” her. They say White House aides were simply trying to correct Mr Wilson’s claim that he had been sent to Niger by Mr. Cheney’s office.

WHY DID IT LEAD TO A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION?

As controversy grew, Mr. Bush appointed Mr. Fitzgerald in December 2003 to investigate whether officials had broken the law by knowingly revealing the identity of a covert agent. His writ was extended to cover possible obstruction of justice and perjury.

WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LEAK?

The investigation soon focused on Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Mr. Cheney’s Chief of Staff. Initially, the White House said that neither man was involved. But in June this year Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller of the New York Times were ordered to reveal the identity of their sources. Mr. Cooper told the Grand Jury that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby had told him about Ms. Plame, but not by name. Ms. Miller refused to reveal her source and was jailed for 85 days. After her release she said she had spoken to Mr. Libby about Ms. Plame, but not by name. Both reporters said that neither Mr. Rove or Mr. Libby appeared to know that Ms. Plame was an agent.

4.

International

BUSH ROCKED AS SENIOR CHENEY AIDE IS INDICTED FOR PERJURY
By Alex Massie

Scotsman (UK)
October 29, 2005

http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=2164602005

Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, was indicted yesterday for obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements after a two-year investigation into the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity, plunging the Bush administration into turmoil.

Mr. Libby, who could face up to 30 years in prison, resigned minutes after the grand jury indictment was issued in the federal court in Washington.

Investigations into the conduct in the case of President George Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove, are to continue, ensuring the president's most trusted aide remains under suspicion.

Mr. Libby delivered a letter of resignation to the White House chief of staff, Andy Card, yesterday morning, in advance of the release of the indictments. Mr. Cheney said he accepted Mr. Libby's resignation and called him "one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known", and said the top aide had resigned in order to fight the charges against him.

The vice-president's closest confidant will face charges on one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and two further counts of making false statements to a grand jury and FBI officers investigating the leak. Mr. Libby will now face trial following the indictment.

Obstruction of justice carries a maximum ten-year penalty while the other counts warrant up to five years' imprisonment.

Any trial would dig into the secret deliberations of Mr. Bush and his team as they built the case for war against Iraq.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced the charges against Mr. Libby, 55, after a 22-month investigation into how the name of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA officer, came to be leaked to the media. Her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, had criticised the Bush administration's use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Mr. Libby had claimed he first became aware of Ms. Plame's role in the CIA's counter-proliferation directorate -- responsible for curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction -- from reporters, including the New York Times' Judith Miller.

But Mr. Libby's own notes suggested he had become aware of this information from conversations with Mr. Cheney, "a senior CIA officer" and an unnamed under-secretary of state. Ms. Miller testified she had become aware Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the CIA when she spoke to Mr. Libby on 23 June.

The 20-page indictment claims that exposing Ms. Plame's identity as a CIA officer whose identity was classified, "had the potential to damage the national security in ways that ranged from preventing the future use of those individuals in a covert capacity, to compromising intelligence-gathering methods and operations, and endangering the safety of CIA employees".

Mr. Libby played a big role in preparing the case for toppling Saddam Hussein, writing much of the first draft of Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation at the U.N. that did a lot to convince sceptics that military action against Iraq was necessary.

Mr. Bush implicitly acknowledged his administration was on the back foot yesterday when he gave a speech in Virginia on the war on terror. He said to his audience: "Thanks for the chance to get out of Washington."

Mr. Rove appeared bullishly confident as he left his home in Washington for the White House yesterday, suggesting that in a conversation with Mr. Fitzgerald on Thursday, the prosecutor had told him he would not face charges.

Mr. Rove could still face perjury charges, however. His legal problems stem in part from the fact that he failed initially to disclose to prosecutors a conversation in which he told Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper that Ms. Plame worked for the CIA.

Although Mr. Rove has, at least for now, escaped charges, the investigation remains a political problem for Mr. Bush. Jan Baran, former counsel to the Republican National Committee, said: "There is some sense of relief, if you can call it that, that Karl Rove will not face trouble. If there's a silver lining, and I'm not sure there is, that's it."

Democrats emphasized that the fact that Mr. Libby is comparatively unknown scarcely reduces the political fall-out.

Senate minority leader Harry Reid said the case was bigger than just a leak. It was about how the Bush administration "manipulated" the evidence used to justify going to war.

SHADOW OF NIXON LOOMS OVER A CRISIS-RIDDEN WHITE HOUSE

If a week is a long time in politics, two months can be an eternity. George Bush's administration has been buffeted by tempests every bit as fierce, politically speaking, as the storm that struck New Orleans.

Mr. Bush's election victory last November is a distant memory, with his presidency laid low by scandals and stumbles largely of its own making. The inept and lethargic response to Hurricane Katrina could be blamed in part on city and state officials, but seemed to confirm that the White House is oddly out of touch.

A Gallup poll this week found that just 42 per cent of Americans approve of the job Mr. Bush is doing and that on almost every domestic issue the public was more in tune with Democrat than Republican policies. Worse, 46 per cent feel that Democrats would handle Iraq better.

Factor in the embarrassment the president suffered over the rejection of his nominee, Harriet Miers, for the Supreme Court, and it is unsurprising that Gallup found that, among recent two-terms presidents, only Richard Nixon had lower approval ratings.

The investigation into the "outing" of a CIA agent may not reach the Oval Office as the Watergate investigations did 30 years ago, but the damage to the president's authority remains considerable. Mr. Bush has been unable to press ahead with his domestic policy agenda, leaving the administration to limp along from one crisis to another.

Whether the president can move on from these difficult two months to reassert his authority remains very debatable.

YEARS OF EVASION AND MISINFORMATION

Timeline of the investigation into the leak of a CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity:

• February 2002: Former ambassador Joseph Wilson is asked by the Bush administration to travel to Niger to check out an intelligence report that Niger sold uranium to Iraq.

• 28 January, 2003: In his State of the Union address, George Bush states: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," but does not mention that United States agencies had questioned the validity of the British intelligence;

• 14 July: Columnist Robert Novak identifies Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as "a [CIA] operative on weapons of mass destruction." Novak cites "two senior administration officials" as his sources;

• 29-30 September: The Justice Department informs then-White House counsel Alberto R Gonzales that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorised disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee;

• 30 December: U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald named special counsel to investigate whether crime was committed;

• 15 July: Presidential aide Karl Rove testifies to the grand jury that he learned the identity of the CIA operative from journalists, then informally discussed the information, without using Plame's name, with Cooper;

• 11 October: New York Times reporter Judith Miller turns over notes of a previously undisclosed phone conversation with Lewis Libby, vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff;

• 19 October: The Associated Press reports that Rove told grand jurors it was possible he first learned from Libby that Plame worked for the CIA;

• 21 October: Reports surface that Miller belatedly gave prosecutors her notes of a meeting with Libby only after being shown White House records showing that the two had met as early as 23 June, 2003;

• 25 October: The New York Times reports that notes suggest Cheney passed on Plame's identity to Libby in a previously undisclosed, 12 June, 2003, conversation;

• 28 October: Grand jury expires; decisions from Fitzgerald expected.

5.

PRESSURE GROWS ON BUSH AS LIBBY CHARGED WITH LYING TO GRAND JURY
By Julian Borger and Jamie Wilson

Guardian
October 29, 2005

http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,16518,1604252,00.html

WASHINGTON -- The Bush presidency was profoundly damaged yesterday when Lewis Libby, a top White House official who helped push for the Iraq invasion, was charged with obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI, and committing perjury before a grand jury.

Mr. Libby immediately resigned his post as chief of staff to the vice-president, Dick Cheney. The president's own chief political adviser, Karl Rove, escaped indictment, but was warned that he was still under investigation in the case -- a 2003 intelligence leak at the heart of the administration's case for going to war in Iraq.

Patrick Fitzgerald, who has led the two-year inquiry into how a CIA agent's cover was blown, said yesterday: "It's not over."

George Bush accepted Mr. Libby's resignation, but heaped praise on him. "Scooter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country. He served the vice-president and me through extraordinary times in our nation's history," Mr Bush said before flying to Camp David. He added: "Each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial."

Mr. Libby, who was instrumental in shaping the evidence for the case for going to war in Iraq, was charged with two counts each of perjury (lying to a grand jury) and making false statements (lying to federal investigators), and one count of obstruction of justice (hindering a grand jury investigation into the leak).

If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 30 years in jail and $1.25m in fines. The trial itself is likely to inflict further damage on the administration, whose key officials would be cross-examined on the build-up to the war in Iraq. Mr. Cheney, who was mentioned in the indictment, would probably have to give evidence.

Mr. Fitzgerald rejected suggestions he was prosecuting Mr. Libby over technicalities, arguing that the damage caused by the disclosure of a CIA operative's identity "was done to all of us." The charges, he said referred to "very serious felonies."

"When citizens testify before grand juries they are required to tell the truth," he said. "Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nation. The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens, including persons who hold high positions."

Mr. Fitzgerald accused Mr. Libby of "knowingly and corruptly" obstructing the grand jury and lying about "how and when in 2003 he learned and subsequently disclosed to reporters then-classified information" about the identity of a CIA covert agent, Valerie Plame.

The prosecutor described how Mr. Libby had told FBI investigators and testified before a grand jury that he learned about Ms. Plame's CIA status from reporters and had passed it on to other reporters on the assumption it was gossip. "It would be a compelling story to let the FBI go away, if only it were true. In fact, it was not true," Mr Fitzgerald said.

Mr. Rove, who had also talked to journalists about Ms. Plame in the summer of 2003, was not charged yesterday, but is clearly still under scrutiny. A third administration figure, mentioned in the indictment only as "official A," was also implicated in the leak.

Before leaving Washington at the weekend, Mr. Bush reminded reporters: "We got a job to protect the American people, and that's what we'll continue working hard to do." But the extension of the inquiry will make it hard for the White House to salvage its legislative agenda.

6.

News

World

Americas

A SAGA OF INCONSISTENCIES, DISTORTIONS, AND OUTRIGHT LIES
By Andrew Gumbel

Independent (UK)
October 29, 2005

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article323159.ece

Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor responsible for indicting Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, has demonstrated that he may well be the Bush White House's worst nightmare.

In two years of dogged investigation, he has done what the media and the Democratic Party have shied away from and unpicked a plethora of inconsistencies, distortions, and apparent out-and-out lies as the administration tries to justify the war in Iraq.

Yesterday's indictment of Scooter Libby, the first of a serving White House official in 130 years, on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators and a grand jury related first and foremost to the revelation of a CIA agent's identity. Valerie Plame Wilson's cover was blown apparently as revenge on her husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, who went to Niger to investigate reports Saddam Hussein was buying uranium yellowcake and concluded -- to the frustration of the administration -- that the reports were bogus.

But the bigger picture, which Mr. Fitzgerald may be only beginning to unveil, concerns the possibility that the U.S. government deliberately concocted part of its case for war and misled Congress on the basis of information it knew was untrue.

It has been an astonishing investigation, in which senior White House officials from the President on down have been forced to retract, tone down, or massage statements which turned out, as Mr. Fitzgerald's work progressed, to be untenable.

The scandal has threatened the reputation of the New York Times, whose investigative reporter Judith Miller not only provided an echo chamber for the administration's unfounded allegations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction but also -- according to the paper's own findings -- lied to her colleagues and appeared to be more interested in protecting her government sources, including Mr. Libby, than defending the integrity of her trade.

Ms. Miller spent 85 days in jail, ostensibly to avoid discussing conversations with Mr. Libby even though he issued a waiver releasing her from her obligation of confidentiality.

Over and above the actions that have led to criminal charges the scandal has thrust one Bush administration official after another into spotlight.

President Bush himself was forced to back down after saying he would fire anyone found to be involved in the leak. Mr. Cheney told an interviewer in 2003 that he had "no idea" who sent Joe Wilson to Niger. According to the indictment, however, it was Mr. Cheney who first suggested that Mr Wilson be sent.

White House spokesman Scott McLellan stated "categorically" in October 2003 that Mr. Libby and Karl Rove, President Bush's political strategist, were not involved in leaking Ms. Wilson's name. He has since pleaded that he was merely passing on the assurances of others, and did not knowingly lie.

Mr. Rove himself said at the time he had no knowledge of the Wilson leak -- something that now appears untrue. Although he escaped indictment yesterday, Mr. Rove remains under close investigation.