More questions than answers about "Sealed v. Sealed"

Truthout promises to provide details about its latest Karl Rove story, then says it's going to "let her ride."


Tim Grieve
June 13, 2006 4:13AM (UTC)

In an editor's note accompanying Jason Leopold's latest story on Karl Rove today, Truthout executive director Marc Ash tried to "clearly separate what we know from what we believe." Among the "things" Ash said "we know for certain" is a claim that we've already shown to be wrong: Ash said "Sealed v. Sealed," the title of the criminal case Truthout "believes" to be "directly related" to the Valerie Plame investigation, is "unusual," and that "typically, a sealed federal indictment will be titled, 'U.S. v. Sealed.'" In fact, as we reported earlier today, all sealed criminal cases in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia go by the title "Sealed v. Sealed," and there have been at least 31 such cases filed so far this year.

What about some of the other things Ash said he knows for certain? We tried -- not very successfully -- to learn more about one of them today.

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Ash said in his editor's note that he knows for certain that "the federal indictment" -- and we'll assume for now that Case No. 1-06-cr-128 actually involves an indictment -- "was returned by the same grand jury that has been hearing matters related to the Fitzgerald/Plame investigation." We sent Ash an e-mail this morning asking him to explain the basis for that claim. "Good question," he responded. "Let me [get] that 'exact' answer and I'll get back to you."

After a few hours passed, we followed up with a more detailed version of the same question: "In your note, you say you 'know for certain" that 1-06-cr-128 was 'returned by the same grand jury that has been hearing matters related to the Fitzgerald/Plame investigation.' But you also say in your note that claims designated as 'what we know' are based on 'official records and official statements.' What 'official record or statement' supports the claim that 1-06-cr-128 represents an 'indictment returned by the same grand jury that has been hearing matters related to the Fitzgerald/Plame investigation'?"

Ash's response to that question: "Yes, I see your point on ... confirming the information about which grand jury returned 1-06-cr-128. I am contacting those who worked on that and WILL get back to you."

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A little later, we asked Ash and Leopold whether Truthout's focus on 1-06-cr-128 might be based on some confusion about a similarly numbered matter (1-06-mc-128) that involves Time's challenge to a subpoena in the Scooter Libby case. Leopold said, "No." Ash said, "Not exactly. This information was provided to us by someone who knows these issues -- first-hand. But before I try to explain to you what they explained to me, I want a detailed clarification. Our interest in 1-06-cr-128 is based on a multitude of factors."

We tried one last time to get an answer late today. Leopold responded by saying: "Marc Ash handles all media inquiries. " Ash, in turn, said he is "frankly reluctant to get into [a] parsing contest" and that Truthout is "pretty comfortable with what we've published."

"We're going to let her ride," Ash said. "Thanks for following up."

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Tim Grieve

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

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