And the grand jury hits just keep on coming

Woodward's bombshell gets Patrick Fitzgerald moving again.

Published November 18, 2005 6:37PM (EST)

Reuters is reporting that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in court filings Friday morning that his investigation into the Plame leak will require proceedings before a new grand jury.

Fitzgerald didn't say why the new grand jury is necessary, but as far as the blogosphere is concerned, the reason is obvious -- Bob Woodward's revelation this week that a senior White House official leaked Valerie Plame's identity to him, well before Scooter Libby is on record for blabbing to reporters. As the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday, "prosecutors deposed Mr. Woodward in anticipation of presenting that evidence to a new grand jury."

So the spin machines, which have already been revving at dangerous velocities, are sure to gear up even higher. Questions abound. Is it good for Libby that attention now shifts to Woodward's unnamed source? Will there be, as Plame's husband, Joe Wilson, asked in the Talking Points Memo cafe this morning, an explanation of "Woodward's relationship with his sources at the White House, and [whether] his personal involvement in the case affected his views, and by extension the reporting of his newspaper?" Will a desperate nation finally find out whether there was a conspiracy among White House officials to out Plame?

Given Fitzgerald's tight lips and ponderous pace, we're not likely to get many answers soon. But we do know one thing -- a new grand jury means more subpoenas, more rumors and more heat on the Bush administration. No matter how deep into the remotest regions of Asia President Bush journeys, he's not likely to escape the fallout from the latest news.

Meanwhile, War Room feels like shedding a crocodile tear for poor Bob Woodward. In an online chat this morning, his own executive editor, Leonard Downie Jr., stalwartly attempting to placate a flood of critics, reiterated numerous times that Woodward had made at least two mistakes, "not telling me sooner about his conversation with this source and expressing opinions on television about the Fitzgerald investigation."

"He has acknowledged both mistakes and apologized," said Downie.

This particular contributor to War Room remembers going to see "All the President's Men" as a callow 14-year-old back in the day. Indeed, he can honestly say that Woodward's example played a strong role in his ultimately becoming a reporter. But the spectacle Woodward has made of himself this week has tarnished that memory something good (although, to be sure, his White House whitewash "Bush at War" already had dented his rep.) Yeah, Woodward should have told his editor what he knew, and he sure didn't do himself any favors calling Patrick Fitzgerald a "junkyard dog" on "Larry King Live." But his real mistake was screwing around with his responsibility to us. Bob, you're supposed to afflict the powerful, not protect them.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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