Plame speculation: It's Libby. It's Rove. It's Hadley. It's later

There may not be any real news today, but everyone's got a theory about what comes next.

Published October 19, 2005 12:59PM (EDT)

If you're planning your day around the expectation of indictments in the Valerie Plame case, the New York Times has some disappointing news for you. Relying on the word of "government officials," the Times says that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald won't be taking any action this week. That's the bad news for those who have been waiting more than two years to see Karl Rove "frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs." The good news comes mostly in the form of the speculation and surmise variety, all of which should be viewed, as a Daily Kos poster wisely counsels, through a thick lens of skepticism.

Here are today's theories and threads.

Fitzgerald must be planning to indict somebody. The special prosecutor has told associates that he doesn't plan to issue a final report on his investigation, according to a piece in today's New York Times. Lawyers in the case and legal experts tell the Times it's a sign that indictments are coming: Fitzgerald wouldn't just walk away from the case without saying anything. Or would he? It's not clear whether Fitzgerald has the legal authority to issue a report. And even if he does, he's a prosecutor, not a storyteller, and he knows that anything other than an indictment is just talk.

Fitzgerald hasn't decided what he's going to do. The same New York Times story says that Fitzgerald has, in recent days, "repeatedly" told lawyers in the case that he hasn't made up his mind about indictments. Of course, that's the only thing he can or should say until he's ready to make an announcement.

Fitzgerald is focused on Scooter Libby and Judy Miller. Murray Waas writes in the National Journal that Fitzgerald is "zeroing in on contradictions" between Libby's testimony and Miller's. Waas sources tell him that Libby and Miller agree that they talked about Plame on July 8, 2003 -- a week before Robert Novak's column revealed her identity -- but that they have offered conflicting stories about whether Libby knew at the time that Plame worked for the CIA. Waas says that Fitzgerald is also trying to figure out whether Libby tried to dissuade Miller from testifying truthfully about their conversations. We already knew about some of the evidence suggesting that Libby was signaling Miller. Waas offers another piece: The night before Miller testified before the grand jury, a source sympathetic to Libby tried to get several newspapers to run an account of Libby's testimony. Was it an effort to tell Miller, through the press, what Libby had said so that she could make sure her story matched his? If Libby tried to influence Miller's testimony, that could be a crime in and of itself. But as Waas notes, it also would put Libby's own testimonial omissions in a much darker light.

Fitzgerald is focused on Stephen Hadley. Former CIA officer and counterterrorism expert Larry C. Johnson says on his blog that the national security advisor has told friends that he expects to be indicted.

Fitzgerald is focused on Scooter Libby and Karl Rove. That's what the Times says, adding that White House officials have begun talking about who will fill Rove's shoes if he's indicted and resigns, either permanently or temporarily.

Fitzgerald has flipped a Cheney aide. In a variation on a story that has been floating around for more than a year, Raw Story reported yesterday that Cheney aide John Hannah has been threatened with prosecution and has chosen to cooperate with Fitzgerald instead. The mainstream press hasn't picked up the story, but the Times offers this cryptic, otherwise out-of-the-blue sentence at the end of today's piece: "Officials who testified or were questioned by investigators also included John Hannah, Mr. Cheney's principal deputy national security adviser."

By Tim Grieve

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

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