Report: Cheney aide is cooperating with Plame prosecutor

Raw Story says that John Hannah is working with Patrick Fitzgerald to avoid prosecution himself.

Published October 18, 2005 5:35PM (EDT)

The New York Daily News reported this morning that a "senior cooperating witness" is helping Patrick Fitzgerald connect the dots in the Valerie Plame investigation. Raw Story now claims to have the details. Citing "sources close to the investigation," Raw Story says that Fitzgerald has told Cheney aide John Hannah that he is a target of the Plame investigation and risks indictment unless he provides assistance to the prosecutor and his investigators. Hannah has chosen to cooperate, Raw Story says.

We've heard a variation on this story before. In early 2004, UPI reported that federal investigators were pushing Hannah hard to flip, threatening him with prosecution if he didn't begin to dish on those involved in outing Plame. "We believe that Hannah was the major player in this," a federal law enforcement officer told UPI at the time. And as Raw Story notes, Joseph Wilson suggested in his book that Hannah might have been involved in leaking his wife's identity himself -- albeit with the authorization of those above him.

So Hannah may be a cooperating witness, or he may just be an obvious guess: His name is in play, and he plainly had a motive for doing whatever he could to discredit Wilson's criticism of the Bush administration's handling of prewar intelligence: According to a Newsweek report, Hannah helped run an operation by which the vice president's office received its own intelligence -- unfiltered by the CIA -- about Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction he didn't have.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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