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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Blasts Kill 48 in New Delhi; Scores Injured - New York Times

Blasts Kill 48 in New Delhi; Scores Injured - New York TimesOctober 30, 2005
Blasts Kill 48 in New Delhi; Scores Injured
By SOMINI SENGUPTA

NEW DELHI, Oct. 29 - An apparently coordinated succession of powerful explosions tore through two crowded markets and a public bus in the Indian capital early Saturday evening, killing dozens of people on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

The death toll stood at 48 Saturday night, according to the Indian Home Ministry, and was expected to rise. The police in New Delhi said that 155 people had been wounded.

The blasts occurred on the weekend before Diwali, the biggest Hindu festival observed in north India, and before Id al-Fitr, the festival that closes the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The market area at Paharganj, the site of the first blast, was strewn with blood, burned rickshaw parts and broken glass.

At the Sarojini Nagar market in the city's south, where the second blast struck a few minutes later, sweets, cash, and clay oil lamps littered the ground, the detritus of Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights. An amateur video broadcast on Indian television showed civilians carrying away the wounded in handcarts.

"It is something that has been planned, that is quite obvious," Sheila Dixit, the chief minister for Delhi State, said, according to Reuters. "It is far too early to say who is behind it."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a statement from the eastern city of Kolkata, saying: "The government is determined to defeat nefarious designs of terrorist elements. The perpetrators of these heinous acts will be dealt with firmly."

The Indian government has plenty of armed enemies, ranging from Islamist militants fighting over Kashmir, to Sikh separatists, to ethnic guerrillas in the country's northeast.

No one claimed immediate responsibility for the blasts.

India's neighbor and rival, Pakistan, immediately condemned the bombings; India has accused Pakistan of collusion in militant attacks in Kashmir, the Himalayan province that both countries claim.

Several deadly attacks have struck New Delhi in recent years.

In May, blasts at two movie theaters left one dead. In December 2001, militants stormed Parliament in an assault that left 12 people dead, including the five attackers. And in December 2000, three people were killed in an attack on the historic Red Fort in the heart of the capital.

Police officers at the scene of the first blast, at the busy Paharganj market in central New Delhi, said that at least 8 people were killed and at least 27 injured in that explosion, which came around 5:30 p.m., a peak shopping hour.

Blood and glass, threaded with pieces of ripped clothing, were strewn on the streets in the district, which is outside the New Delhi railway station and is popular with budget travelers. Witnesses said a woman and her infant were among the dead and injured.

The wreckage of two rickshaws, one blown apart, lay near a crater in front of the M. L. Jewelers shop in the market.

The blast blew in the front of the shop, and police officers with flashlights and a search dog were combing the ruins on Saturday evening.

"I heard just a blast, and everything came down: tubes, glass, show windows," said R. K. Chawla, the owner of an export-import shop called Jack and Jill International across the street from the explosion.

Mr. Chawla said he saw six or seven women lying on the ground. One woman's sari had caught fire, and he said he grabbed bedsheets from a nearby vendor and used them to douse the flames.

"It was so loud, the whole of Paharganj shook," another shopkeeper, Chander Mohan, said. "Like an earthquake."

At Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where the injured from the Paharganj blast were taken, the doctor in charge of the emergency ward, S. K. Sharma, said four victims were declared dead on arrival.

At Sarojini Nagar, a Diwali holiday market drew extra large crowds on Saturday evening. Witnesses said at least two dozen injured had been taken to area hospitals.

Among them was the family of Kishan Kawar, who was standing in the market with his son, Sumit, in his arms, as his wife, Vandana, shopped for a pair of sandals. The blast tore his son from his arms and put his wife in the intensive care unit of Safdarjung Hospital with serious burns. It took Mr. Kawar 10 minutes to find his son, who was burned on his face and hand, among the injured in the ruins.

The third blast took place inside a public bus shortly before 6 p.m. in the industrial area of Govindpuri, also in the city's south.

The city's fire chief, R. C. Sharma, said three people were killed in that explosion.

Hari Kumar and P. J. Anthony contributed reporting for this article.

In Indictment's Wake, a Focus on Cheney's Powerful Role - New York Times

In Indictment's Wake, a Focus on Cheney's Powerful Role - New York TimesOctober 30, 2005
The Vice President
In Indictment's Wake, a Focus on Cheney's Powerful Role
By ELISABETH BUMILLER and ERIC SCHMITT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 - Vice President Dick Cheney makes only three brief appearances in the 22-page federal indictment that charges his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, with lying to investigators and misleading a grand jury in the C.I.A. leak case. But in its clear, cold language, it lifts a veil on how aggressively Mr. Cheney's office drove the rationale against Saddam Hussein and then fought to discredit the Iraq war's critics.

The document now raises a central question: how much collateral damage has Mr. Cheney sustained?

Many Republicans say that Mr. Cheney, already politically weakened because of his role in preparing the case for war, could be further damaged if he is forced to testify about the infighting over intelligence that turned out to be false. At the least, they say, his office will be temporarily off balance with the resignation of Mr. Libby, who controlled both foreign and domestic affairs in a vice presidential office that has served as a major policy arm for the West Wing.

"Cheney has had a tight, effective team, and they have been an incredible support system for the presidency," said Rich Bond, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. "To the degree that that support system is weakened, it's a bad day at the office. But no person is indispensable." For now, David Addington, the vice president's counsel, is the leading candidate to replace Mr. Libby.

Mr. Cheney's allies noted that there was no suggestion in the indictment that the most powerful vice president in American history, with enormous influence into all important corners of administration policy, had done anything wrong. They also said that Mr. Libby, whose role has been diminished in the past year as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice became more powerful and the leak investigation took its toll, could be quickly replaced from the vice president's large Rolodex of support.

"His reach within both the party mechanism and the policy structures of the government is so deep that I believe that it is possible to find somebody who would provide the technical and intellectual support that Libby did, even if he doesn't have the same personal relationship that he had with Libby," said Tom Rath, a New Hampshire Republican with White House ties. "That's very hard to duplicate."

The indictment against Mr. Libby, known as Scooter, alleges that the vice president's office was the hub of a concerted effort to gather information about key critics of the Bush Iraq policy. [Page 28.]

The larger question, Republicans said, was Mr. Cheney's standing with the public - and what his staff has often called the vice president's constituency of one, Mr. Bush.

Christine Todd Whitman, the president's former EPA administrator and a longtime Bush family friend who was critical of the White House and the Republican right wing in a recent book, said that she did not expect the president's personal relationship with Mr. Cheney to change. Nonetheless, she said she believed that if more information about Mr. Cheney's involvement in the leak case becomes public, "and if it keeps hanging around and getting close to the vice president, he might step aside - but that's an extreme case."

For now, she said, "Scooter has fallen on his sword, and the focus is on him."

Paul Light, a vice presidential scholar at New York University's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, agreed that Mr. Cheney's relationship with Mr. Bush will likely remain solid, but the taint of the scandal could hurt the vice president outside the White House.

"Cheney becomes a bit of an albatross except with the base, where he's a real rock star," Mr. Light said. "It'll be less possible for him to make campaign trips because this issue will dog him."

A number of influential Republicans agreed, although they did not want to speak for attribution for fear of harming their relationships with Mr. Cheney.

"Cheney doesn't have a legal problem, but he has a political problem," said one Republican close to the White House who did not want to be named to avoid public quarrels with the White House. "As the driving force on foreign policy and the Iraq war, his leadership is now nowhere near as credible. Bush has got to approach the stuff coming from the vice president's office with raised eyebrows."

Others said that Mr. Cheney was far too central at the White House to be diminished by the scandal. "He's a survivor of all time," said Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming and a longtime friend of the vice president. "I never saw him bow his head or go into a cocoon or suck his thumb or anything like that. He's an unflappable man."

Former Senator Warren B. Rudman, Republican of New Hampshire, agreed with that assessment. "Look, Dick Cheney is not running for anything, he's obviously an incredibly important person in the administration, and I don't think that will change inside the White House," Mr. Rudman said. "If he were a normal vice president looking to run in '08, then it would be a totally different situation."

Most Republicans said that they had not taken seriously recent talk, advanced by conservatives, that Mr. Cheney should be the next Republican presidential candidate. In any case, they said, his history of heart problems, the faulty pre-war intelligence and now Mr. Libby's indictment effectively ruled out a political future beyond Mr. Bush's second term. "He's too controversial," Ms. Whitman said.

Although Mr. Cheney makes only three appearances in the indictment, the episodes tell a story of a vice president directly involved in an effort to learn about Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who emerged in 2003 as a critic of the way the administration used prewar intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. The episodes do not shed light on the action that set off the special prosecutor nearly two years ago: who first leaked the name of Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, an undercover officer at the C.I.A., as an attempt to denigrate Mr. Wilson's trip as a nepotistic junket arranged by his spouse.

Mr. Cheney's most interesting appearance in the indictment is on Page 5, where he is described as telling Mr. Libby, on June 12, 2003, that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A. in the counterproliferation division. "Libby understood that the vice president had learned this information from the C.I.A.," the indictment states.

Mr. Cheney also appears on Page 8, when he flew with Mr. Libby and others on Air Force Two on July 12, 2003, to Norfolk, Va. On the return trip, the indictment states, Mr. Libby "discussed with other officials aboard the plane" what he should say to reporters in response to "certain pending media inquiries," including questions from Matthew Cooper of Time magazine.

The indictment does not say who the "other officials" are or the nature of the media inquiries, but it does say that on that same day Mr. Libby spoke to Mr. Cooper, and that he confirmed that he had heard that Mr. Wilson's wife was involved in sending him on the trip.

The indictment comes as other parts of the wall that was built around Mr. Cheney's defense of the war have come tumbling down. Earlier this month, Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Colin L. Powell while he was secretary of state, complained in a speech of a "cabal" between Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld when it came to Iraq and of a "real dysfunctionality" in the administration's foreign policy team.

The indictment also serves as fresh evidence to those Republicans who have known Mr. Cheney for decades and say he has changed, and that he reacted to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by becoming consumed with threats against the nation and his long-time desire to rid Iraq of Mr. Hussein. Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush, said as much in The New Yorker's current issue.

"I consider Cheney a good friend - I've known him for thirty years," Mr. Scowcroft told Jeffrey Goldberg. "But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore."

Some Republicans say that Mr. Cheney's relationship with Mr. Bush has already changed, and that he has become less of a mentor to the president after Mr. Bush's nearly five years in office. Still, Mr. Cheney's allies insist that, with or without Mr. Libby, Mr. Cheney will be at the president's side.

"I don't think it's ever been about Cheney's staff," said Victoria Clarke, a former Pentagon spokeswoman and aide to President George H. W. Bush. "It's about him. Cheney's influence has always been his own."

It May Be Wrong, but Is It Perjury? For Prosecutors, That Is Often the Challenge - New York Times

It May Be Wrong, but Is It Perjury? For Prosecutors, That Is Often the Challenge - New York TimesOctober 30, 2005
The Legal Issues
It May Be Wrong, but Is It Perjury? For Prosecutors, That Is Often the Challenge
By ADAM LIPTAK

Proving perjury, the central charge against I. Lewis Libby Jr., is ordinarily no easy task, legal experts said yesterday. A prosecutor must convince a jury not only that the defendant said something false about a significant point but also that the falsehood was more than an innocent error produced by poor memory. To be perjury, the false statement has to be a knowing lie.

Mr. Libby, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff on Friday after being indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators, will probably argue that any misstatements he made were the good-faith mistakes of a busy man.

"Mr. Libby testified to the best of his honest recollection on all occasions," his lawyer, Joseph A. Tate said in a statement on Friday. "A person's recollection and memory of events will not always match those of other people, particularly when they are asked to testify months after the events occurred. This is especially true in the hectic rush of issues and events at a busy time for our government."

Adam S. Hoffinger, a former federal prosecutor and now the head of the white collar practice at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary in Washington, said corporate executives often made such arguments when they were charged with perjury and similar crimes. "That is a logical defense when you're dealing with someone on a high level," Mr. Hoffinger said.

But the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has amassed a wealth of details about what Mr. Libby knew and when he knew it. Mr. Fitzgerald described those details in the indictment at a news conference on Friday, and he clearly believes they are sufficient to overcome the busy-executive defense.

"The way perjury is usually proven - unless you have a tape on which the defendant says, 'Ha, ha, ha, I lied' - is by circumstance," Mr. Hoffinger said. The details Mr. Fitzgerald has alleged, Mr. Hoffinger said, "are the circumstances from which you can infer that Libby was lying and knew that he was lying."

According to the indictment, Mr. Libby learned about Valerie Wilson, whose employment at the Central Intelligence Agency was classified information, from several government officials and classified documents in May and June 2003. He also discussed her identity with other officials in that same period, the indictment says. Yet he told a grand jury investigating the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity that he learned about her from Tim Russert of NBC News in July 2003.

Mr. Fitzgerald's mandate, according to the letter appointing him special counsel in the case in December 2003, was to investigate "the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a C.I.A employee's identity." But the indictment does not charge that Mr. Libby violated any law concerning classified information in discussing Ms. Wilson with three reporters in June and July 2003.

Such crimes, Mr. Fitzgerald said Friday, are hard to prove. "You need to know at the time that he transmitted the information, he appreciated that it was classified information, that he knew it or acted, in certain statutes, with recklessness," he said.

But Mr. Fitzgerald suggested that the charges against Mr. Libby, for his conduct months later during the investigation, would help prevent future disclosures. "It doesn't really, in the end, matter what statute you use," Mr. Fitzgerald said, "if you vindicate the interest."

The damage caused by Mr. Libby's conduct was substantial, said Christopher Wolf, a lawyer in the Washington office of Proskauer Rose who represents Ms. Wilson and her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat.

"Both Valerie Wilson and the nation were injured by this," Mr. Wolf said Friday. "Her personal safety and that of her family and her contacts is in jeopardy."

Mr. Libby's grand jury testimony about Mr. Russert, in March 2004, was, according to the indictment, detailed, expansive and confident.

"Did you know that Ambassador Wilson's wife works at the C.I.A.?" Mr. Russert asked Mr. Libby in a July 2003 conversation, according to Mr. Libby's testimony. Mr. Libby then described his reaction to the information: "I was a little taken aback" because "at that point in time I did not recall that I had ever known, and I thought this is something that he was telling me that I was first learning."

Mr. Russert did not appear before the grand jury, but according to a statement issued by NBC News after he was deposed in the investigation in August 2004, he denied knowing that Ms. Wilson was a C.I.A. operative when he talked with Mr. Libby and said that he had not provided that information to Mr. Libby.

Similarly, the indictment says, Mr. Libby testified that he passed along information about Ms. Wilson, attributing it to what "reporters were telling the administration" and without vouching for its truth, to Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times. The two reporters said they had not heard the attribution or caveat.

The differences, Mr. Libby's lawyer said, amount to nothing more than "alleged inconsistencies in Mr. Libby's recollection and those of others."

But William E. Lawler III, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice at Vinson & Elkins in Washington, said, "People are convicted of all sorts of stuff on the basis of he-said/he-said every day." In Mr. Libby's case, the documents and other information Mr. Fitzgerald gathered from inside the government also seem to contradict what Mr. Libby told the grand jury.

It may also hurt Mr. Libby that he told his version several times, to F.B.I. investigators in October and November 2003 and again to the grand jury the next year.

"The jury will hear," Mr. Lawler said, "that the defendant had many opportunities to set the record straight and come clean."

At Milestone in Inquiry, Rove, and the G.O.P., Breathe a Bit Easier - New York Times

At Milestone in Inquiry, Rove, and the G.O.P., Breathe a Bit Easier - New York TimesOctober 29, 2005
The President's Adviser
At Milestone in Inquiry, Rove, and the G.O.P., Breathe a Bit Easier
By ANNE E. KORNBLUT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - After months of uncertainty and four grand jury appearances, Karl Rove escaped the worst possible outcome on Friday, and a collective sigh of relief swept the Bush administration and the Republican Party.

Mr. Rove remained under a legal cloud: not indicted, but still at the center of the unfinished business in the C.I.A. leak case. He was absent from public view for most of the day, and conspicuously avoided giving any appearance that he had begun to celebrate.

But several friends and colleagues said he had resumed his role as the ubiquitous adviser who has guided George W. Bush's political career since before Mr. Bush's days as Texas governor. Even as the administration somberly accepted the resignation of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, a pall that had fallen over Mr. Rove's section of the West Wing seemed to lift. And Mr. Rove, who just two weeks earlier had seemed in grave danger of being charged with a crime, took comfort in having survived this important point in the case.

"The whole thing has been no fun, and debilitating, but not indicted is not indicted," said Ed Rogers, a Republican consultant and lobbyist. "It's binary: being indicted is real bad, and not being indicted is real good."

It was unclear why the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who was investigating Mr. Rove's statements up until the final hours of the grand jury's term, ultimately decided not to seek an indictment of him, at least for now. If he had evidence against Mr. Rove, he did not present it in the indictment of Mr. Libby or in his news conference at the Justice Department.

Mr. Rove, a cheerful, sharp-witted operative fond of sparring with reporters off the record, was drawn into the case because of conversations he had had with two reporters about the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had attacked the administration's account of intelligence to justify war in Iraq.

On July 9, 2003, Mr. Rove confirmed to the columnist Robert D. Novak that he had heard that Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie, was a C.I.A. officer; Mr. Novak revealed her identity in his column several days later. Referring to an "Official A," whom people briefed on the case have identified as Mr. Rove, the indictment recounted those events, as well as a conversation that Official A had with Mr. Libby about the subject. Mr. Rove also tipped off Matthew Cooper of Time magazine to Ms. Wilson's identity in a phone conversation on July 11, two days after he spoke to Mr. Novak.

The circumstances surrounding those conversations have fueled outrage from Mr. Rove's political adversaries, who have long viewed him as a take-no-prisoners renegade who will stop at nothing to ruin his critics. Mr. Wilson has called Mr. Rove's actions an "outrageous abuse of power" that was "certainly worthy of frog-marching out of the White House."

That did not come to pass on Friday. A Republican official who had heard from Mr. Rove's friends said he seemed "relieved" though chastened by the five counts brought against Mr. Libby. The official said Mr. Rove and White House colleagues did not want to make any statements that would provoke Mr. Fitzgerald.

"He's been his usual self here at the White House, the kind of Karl we've always seen busy at work, generally upbeat and positive," said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because staff members had been prohibited from talking about the case.

Mark McKinnon, an adviser close to the administration, said, "I think Karl is right back in the middle of the picture, and will be for the foreseeable future."

Before dawn on Friday, the lights were on at the Rove household in upper Northwest Washington, where three Secret Service agents stood watch out front. But Mr. Rove did not leave the house until after 7:30, much later than usual. He gave a chipper response to reporters at the edge of his yard who shouted questions about how he felt.

"A very good mood today," he said. "I'm going to have a very good day."

Mr. Rove appeared in similarly high spirits the night before, dropping by a party of tribute for a former congressman and interior secretary, Manuel Lujan Jr., at the law firm of Jones Day. He betrayed no anxiety as he made remarks and posed for photographs with other guests, even though nearly everyone in the room was aware of the deadline of Friday, when the grand jury's term was due to expire. During the half-hour Mr. Rove spent at the party, he seemed "very relaxed," said Representative Steve Pearce, Republican of New Mexico.

Although Mr. Rove had reportedly been distracted by the investigation, several of his colleagues said Friday that in fact he had been engaged in his work all along. They denied that the case had caused any preoccupation contributing to the two central political disasters of recent weeks: the federal response to Hurricane Katrina and the crash-and-burn of Harriet E. Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Still, they acknowledged that if Mr. Rove's legal troubles were indeed starting to fade, his prospects for helping the administration regain its footing were greater.

"Now we start digging out," a Republican close to the White House said.

Now, agreed Mr. Rogers, the Republican consultant, "he can get back to work."

Some Tie Libby's Case to the Case for the War - New York Times

Some Tie Libby's Case to the Case for the War - New York TimesOctober 29, 2005
The Capital
Some Tie Libby's Case to the Case for the War
By CARL HULSE

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - Democrats portrayed Friday's indictment of a senior White House official in the C.I.A. leak case as evidence that the Bush administration was willing to risk national security to protect a flawed rationale for the war in Iraq. Republicans cautioned against a rush to judgment and sought to minimize any damage.

In a flood of stinging statements immediately after the announcement of charges against the aide, I. Lewis Libby Jr., leading Democrats quickly moved beyond the details of the indictment to the broader assertion that White House officials had ignored the law in mounting a furtive campaign to blunt criticism of President Bush's case for war.

"This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader. "It is 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."

In a statement read by his lawyer outside the federal courthouse, Joseph C. Wilson IV, the former ambassador and a central figure in the case along with his wife, Valerie Wilson, said, "When an indictment is delivered at the front door of the White House, the office of the president is defiled."

Democrats in the House and Senate immediately called for congressional oversight hearings into administration handling of classified information, even though Republican officials who control the House and Senate have ignored such demands in the past.

Republicans urged the public to await the outcome of the criminal proceedings and pointed to the fact that the indictment did not charge Mr. Libby or anyone else with intentionally unmasking a C.I.A. agent.

"Mr. Libby is entitled to his day in court to answer the charges against him, receive a full airing of all the facts and is innocent until proven otherwise," said Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee and the manager of Mr. Bush's 2004 campaign.

At the White House and in the offices of senior Republican lawmakers, there was clear relief that the charges did not - at least for now - reach to Karl Rove, the president's deputy chief of staff and a chief political architect for the president and the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Staff members, though, did not want to say so on the record for fear of appearing happy on the day Mr. Libby was indicted.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and a senior member of the judiciary and intelligence committees, acknowledged that the five counts against Mr. Libby were serious. But he said he believed the whole investigation was misguided because Ms. Wilson, whose role at the C.I.A. Mr. Libby is accused of disclosing, was not a covert agent as defined in the federal law that prompted the inquiry by the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

"If the whole covert agent thing is blown away because it never really applied to begin with, why are we going through all this?" Mr. Hatch asked.

A similar point was made by Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia and a member of the House Republican leadership who was traveling Friday with Vice President Dick Cheney.

"It's significant that the indictment does not mention the outing of Valerie Plame," Mr. Kingston said in a statement, using Ms. Wilson's maiden name. "It appears that after two years of investigation, Mr. Fitzgerald does not agree with the administration's critics that her situation is what this is all about."

Mr. Hatch and Mr. Kingston, though, were among a minority in their party to weigh in aggressively. Many Republicans were quiet, apparently preferring, at least initially, to stay out of the matter.

One Republican said the party would be judged on how decisively it responds to these accusations of wrongdoing and others in which leading Republicans are entangled. "What is our standard?" said Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut. "The bottom line is how we handle it."

But Democrats castigated the administration. Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who lost the 2004 presidential race to Mr. Bush, said, "Today's indictment of the vice president's top aide and the continuing investigation of Karl Rove are evidence of White House corruption at the very highest levels, far from the 'honor and dignity' the president pledged to restore to Washington just five years ago."

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, said the "heart of these indictments was the effort by the Bush administration to discredit critics of its Iraq policy with reckless disregard for national security and the public trust."

Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the Government Reform Committee, immediately renewed his call for oversight hearings in a letter to Representative Thomas M. Davis III, the Virginia Republican who is chairman of the panel. Mr. Waxman pointed to the part of the indictment suggesting that Mr. Cheney told Mr. Libby of Ms. Wilson's work at the C.I.A.

"Obviously, the involvement of the vice president raises profoundly disturbing questions," Mr. Waxman wrote. "We need to understand in detail what role Mr. Cheney played in this despicable incident."

Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, also said additional inquiry was necessary. "The fact is that at any time the Senate Intelligence Committee pursued a line of questioning that brought us close to the White House, our efforts were thwarted," Mr. Rockefeller said.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | US and Japan to hold troops talks

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | US and Japan to hold troops talks US and Japan to hold troops talks
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Tokyo

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are due to meet their Japanese counterparts in Washington.

Under discussion will be plans to reorganise the 50,000 US troops currently stationed in Japan.

About three-quarters of them are stationed on the tiny southern island of Okinawa.

They are not popular with the local population there, who want to see significant reductions in troop levels.

US forces stretched

The US has had tens of thousands of troops stationed in Japan since the end of World War II.

The country is its most important Asian ally.

But the people of Okinawa have long complained about the crime, pollution and noise from US bases.

Japan has been pushing for a redeployment of some of the troops there.

At the same time, the US is looking for ways to make its military more flexible, stretched as it is by the continuing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So both sides are preparing to announce what they are calling an interim plan to redeploy some of the forces in Japan.

The country's foreign minister says several thousand US marines will be moved off the island.

Japanese media reports predict that about 4,000 will eventually be redeployed to other bases in Japan and to the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Neighbours' concern

The Bush administration wants Japan to take a more active role in maintaining regional security, and it wants US and Japanese forces to be integrated more closely.

But because of Japan's past militarism, its neighbours - in particular China and South Korea - are wary of any move it makes away from its post-war pacifist stance.

Japan's government also has problems selling such policies to its own people.

Many are wary of their prime minister's closeness to President Bush and will be unhappy if the redeployment of US troops from Okinawa means a greater military presence on their own doorstep.
Story from BBC NEWS:

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Indian minister denies oil claims

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Indian minister denies oil claims Indian minister denies oil claims
India's Foreign Minister, Natwar Singh, has denied allegations that he was a beneficiary of the UN oil-for-food for Saddam Hussein's regime.

"I am deeply shocked and outraged by these allegations which are baseless and untrue," Mr Singh said.

An inquiry led by Paul Volcker named Mr Singh and India's ruling Congress Party as "non-contractual beneficiaries" of Iraqi oil sales in 2001.

The Congress Party has also denied it was "in any way involved".

India's main opposition BJP has called for the immediate resignation of Mr Singh.

"Mr Natwar Singh cannot continue as India's foreign minister. He must go immediately," BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley told journalists at a news conference in Delhi.

"My record in public life for the past 50 years and more has been an open book. My personal integrity has never been questioned," Mr Singh said in a statement.

"This is obviously part of the continuing campaign to malign the Congress Party and its senior leaders and functionaries."

Mr Volcker's report says more than 2,000 firms linked to the UN oil-for-food programme in Iraq were involved in making illicit payments to the Iraqi government.

'Kickbacks'

Reports appearing on Saturday in India's The Hindu newspaper says the Volcker report names Mr Singh and the Congress party in connection with one of the firms named, Masefield AG, which was allotted four million barrels of oil under the programme.

Under the programme, Saddam Hussein's government could sell oil as long as the proceeds were used to buy humanitarian goods.

Companies buying oil at cut prices would funnel extra money to Iraq through "surcharges" while those receiving money from Iraq for humanitarian goods and services would return a portion in "kickbacks", the report found.

Individuals named in the report include a former French UN ambassador, Jean-Bernard Merrimee, who has admitted receiving one oil allocation only.

Russian parliamentarian Vladimir Zhirinovsky and British MP George Galloway are also both named but have denied the allegations.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Friday, October 28, 2005

Libby Resigns His Post; Rove's Fate Remains Unresolved - New York Times

Libby Resigns His Post; Rove's Fate Remains Unresolved - New York TimesOctober 28, 2005
Libby Resigns His Post; Rove's Fate Remains Unresolved
By DAVID STOUT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and one of the most powerful figures in the Bush administration, was formally accused today of lying and obstruction of justice in an inquiry into the unmasking of a covert C.I.A. officer.

A federal grand jury indicted Mr. Libby on one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and two of making false statements in the course of an investigation that raised questions about the administration's rationale for going to war against Iraq, how it treats critics and political opponents and whether high White House officials shaded the truth. The charges are felonies.

Mr. Libby was not charged directly with revealing the identity of a C.I.A. undercover operative, the accusation that brought about the investigation in the first place.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, was not charged today, but will remain under investigation, Mr. Rove's lawyer and people briefed officially about the case said. In a news conference this afternoon, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, declined to talk about Mr. Rove but said that his investigation showed that Mr. Libby had told reporters about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, and that "he lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly."

Mr. Libby resigned just before the indictment was handed up. The charges lodged today could spell professional ruin for the 55-year-old lawyer, unless he is acquitted or the charges are dismissed. In a statement issued by his lawyer, Joseph A. Tate, Mr. Libby said: "I am confident that at the end of this process I will be completely and totally exonerated," according to the Reuters news agency.

Vice President Cheney said in a statement that he had accepted the resignation with "deep regret."

"In our system of government an accused person is presumed innocent until a contrary finding is made by a jury after an opportunity to answer the charges and a full airing of the facts," the statement said. "Mr. Libby is entitled to that opportunity."

Obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, while the charges of perjury and making false statements have maximum terms of 5 years. Each of the five counts can also be punished with a $250,000 fine. Perjury is lying under oath, to a jury or other investigative body, while making false statements consists of lying to investigators while not under oath.

The indictment accuses Mr. Libby of lying to F.B.I. agents who interviewed him on Oct. 14 and Nov. 26, 2003; perjuring himself before the grand jury on March 5 and March 24, 2004, and engaging in obstruction of justice by impeding the grand jury's investigation into the leaking of Ms. Wilson's affiliation with the C.I.A. in the spring of 2003.

"When citizens testify before grand juries, they are required to tell the truth," Mr. Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nations or its citizens. The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens, including persons who hold high positions in government."

The indictment constitutes a body blow to the White House, which has faced political problems on several fronts of late and where Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been powerful presences - Mr. Rove as the president's alter ego and top political adviser, and Mr. Libby as an important adviser to one of the most powerful vice presidents in American history.

The development also capped a politically bruising week for Mr. Bush. Earlier in the week the 2,000th American death in Iraq was recorded, and on Thursday the president's nominee to the Supreme Court, Harriet E. Miers, withdrew her candidacy after being attacked by conservatives and having her legal credentials questioned by lawmakers of both parties.

"Special Counsel Fitzgerald's investigation and ongoing legal proceedings are serious," Mr. Bush said this afternoon. "And now the process moves into a new phase. In our system each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial.

"While we're all saddened by today's news, we remain wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country. I got a job to do and so do the people that work in the White House. We've got a job to protect the American people and that's what we'll continue working hard to do. I look forward to working with Congress on policies to keep this economy moving. And pretty soon I'll be naming somebody to the Supreme Court." Though Mr. Rove was spared indictment today, he remains under a cloud and may be a political liability as Mr. Bush tries to push ahead with his second-term agenda. While Mr. Fitzgerald said the "substantial work" of the grand jury was concluded, he also said the work was "not over."

"We could use any other grand jury or avail another grand jury," he said. "We couldn't use the grand jury that expired today."

Asked about the Mr. Cheney's role in case, Mr. Fitzgerald said "We make no allegations that the vice president conducted any criminal act." Months ago, President Bush said anyone in his administration who committed a crime in connection with the disclosure of the name of Ms. Wilson - also known as Valerie Plame - would not be a part of his administration.

More recently, the White House has retreated somewhat from that position, with Mr. Bush's chief spokesman, Scott McClellan, saying it would not be appropriate to comment in the course of the investigation.

Mr. McClellan said repeatedly at White House news briefings that both Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove had assured him they were not involved in unmasking Ms. Plame. So the charges lodged against Mr. Libby and the ongoing investigation of Mr. Rove offer abundant grist, at least for now, to critics who question the administration's commitment to truth and candor.

Democratic response was instantaneous. "These are very serious charges," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate minority leader. "They suggest that a senior White House aide put politics ahead of our national security and the rule of law. This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information. It is 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."

Mr. Fitzgerald said people should not look to the indictment for resolution or vindication of their feelings about the war: "This indictment is not about the war," he said, "this indictment is not about the propriety of the war."

Questions about the extent of Mr. Libby's involvement in the affair intensified this week, when lawyers involved in the case said that Mr. Libby first learned about Ms. Wilson from Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, rather than from journalists several weeks after that date. Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, is a former diplomat who was highly critical of the Bush administration's case for going to war.

As recently as the last few days, F.B.I. agents questioned neighbors of the Wilsons in northwest Washington, seeking to determine whether it was commonly known that she was a C.I.A. officer, a person involved in the case said. Ms. Wilson sometimes has been known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame.

Mr. Wilson learned of the indictment while at his home today. "If a crime was committed, it was a crime committed against the country," he said. "It's not about whether I'm vindicated or whether Valerie is vindicated, because this crime was not committed against us."

The indictment of Mr. Libby is the latest chapter in an episode that came to light in the summer of 2003. At first, the matter seemed like a tempest in a political teapot, driven by spite and revolving around the issue of whether anyone had violated an obscure federal statute that makes it illegal, under some circumstances, to unmask an undercover agent.

But well before the charges were announced, the affair had mushroomed into something far more serious. It resulted in the jailing of a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, who had resisted Mr. Fitzgerald's pressure to testify, and it provided regular grist for administration critics to assert that the Bush White House routinely bullied its political opponents.

On July 6, 2003, Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times recounting a trip to Niger at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency that left him highly skeptical of Bush administration assertions about Iraq's quest for nuclear material to make weapons.

Eight days after Mr. Wilson's article appeared, the columnist Robert D. Novak disclosed that Mr. Wilson's wife was a C.I.A. operative working on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, and that she had recommended her husband for the trip to Africa in 2002 to look into intelligence reports that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger that could be converted to weapons use. Mr. Novak wrote that he had learned of Ms. Wilson's identity from two senior administration officials. The columnist has refused to say whether he testified before the grand jury.

The indictment paints a portrait of Mr. Libby actively gathering information on Mr. Wilson and his wife in late May and June of 2003. It cites several meetings and conversations, including the following:

¶On May 29, Mr. Libby had a conversation with an undersecretary of state at which he asked for information on Mr. Wilson's trip to Niger.

¶On June 9, the C.I.A. faxed classified documents to Mr. Libby concerning the Niger trip, though they did not mention Mr. Wilson by name. Mr. Libby and one or more others in the vice president's office handwrote the names "Wilson" and "Joe Wilson" on the documents.

¶On June 11 or 12, the undersecretary of state told Mr. Libby that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the C.I.A. On June 11, Mr. Libby was informed by a senior C.I.A. officer that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the agency and was believed to be responsible for sending her husband on the trip.

¶On June 12, Mr. Cheney told Mr. Libby that Mr. Wilson's wife worked in the C.I.A.'s Counterproliferation Division. Mr. Libby understood that Mr. Cheney had found this out from the C.I.A.

¶On June 23, Mr. Libby met with Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times, criticizing "selective leaking" by the C.I.A. In discussing Mr. Wilson's trip with Ms. Miller, Mr. Libby informed her that Mr. Wilson's wife might work at a C.I.A. bureau.

Mr. Fitzgerald said at his news conference that Mr. Libby learned of Mr. Wilson's wife and her role in her husband's trip to Niger from at least four people in the government in June of 2003.

Bill Brink, Carla Baranauckas and Shadi Rahimi contributed reporting from New York for this article.

CBS 46 Atlanta - Cheney Adviser Resigns After Indictment

CBS 46 Atlanta - Cheney Adviser Resigns After IndictmentWashington
Cheney Adviser Resigns After Indictment
Oct 28, 2005, 02:23 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter' Libby Jr. resigned Friday after being charged with obstruction of justice, perjury and making a false statement in the CIA leak investigation, a politically charged case that could throw a spotlight on President Bush's push to war.

Karl Rove, Bush's closest adviser, escaped indictment Friday but remained under investigation, his legal status a looming political problem for the White House.

The indictment charged Libby, 55, with one count of obstruction of justice, two of perjury and two false statement counts. If convicted on all five, he could face as much as 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.

The charges stem from a two-year investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame or lied about their involvement to investigators.

Libby is accused of lying about how and when he learned about Plame's identity in 2003 and told reporters about it. The information on the officer was classified.

He is also accused of lying when he told Fitzgerald's investigators that he learned about Plame's CIA status from Tim Russert of NBC. He learned it from Cheney, the indictment says.

Prosecutor to Speak Soon; No Indictment for Rove Today - New York Times

Prosecutor to Speak Soon; No Indictment for Rove Today - New York TimesOctober 28, 2005
Prosecutor to Speak Soon; No Indictment for Rove Today
By DAVID STOUT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and one of the most powerful figures in the Bush administration, was formally accused today of lying and obstruction of justice during an inquiry into the unmasking of a covert C.I.A. officer.

A federal grand jury indicted Mr. Libby on one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and two of making false statements in the course of an investigation that raised questions about the administration's rationale for going to war against Iraq, how it treats critics and political opponents and whether high White House officials shaded the truth.

The charges are felonies. Obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, while perjury and making false statements 5 years. Each of the five counts can also be punished with a $250,000 fine. Perjury is lying under oath, to a jury or other investigative body, while making false statements consists of lying to investigators while not under oath.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, was not charged today, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. Mr. Rove's lawyer confirmed that, according to The Associated Press. As a result, the people said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration today.

Mr. Libby resigned just before the indictment was handed up. The charges lodged today could spell professional ruin for the 55-year-old lawyer, unless he is acquitted or the charges are dismissed.

The prosecutor said Mr. Libby is accused of lying to F.B.I. agents who interviewed him on Oct. 14 and Nov. 26, 2003; perjured himself before the grand jury on March 5 and March 24, 2004, and engaged in obstruction of justice by impeding the grand jury's investigation into the leaking of Ms. Wilson's affiliation with the C.I.A. in the spring of 2003.

"When citizens testify before grand juries, they are required to tell the truth," Mr. Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nations or its citizens. The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens, including persons who hold high positions in government."

The indictment constitutes a body blow to the White House, which has faced political problems on several fronts of late and where Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been powerful presences - Mr. Rove as the White House deputy chief of staff and top political adviser, and Mr. Libby as an important adviser to one of the most powerful vice presidents in American history.

The development also capped a politically bruising week for Mr. Bush. Earlier in the week the 2,000th American death in Iraq was recorded, and on Thursday the president's nominee to the Supreme Court, Harriet E. Miers, withdrew her candidacy after being attacked by conservatives and having her legal credentials questioned by lawmakers of both parties.

Months ago, President Bush said anyone in his administration who committed a crime in connection with the disclosure of the name of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, would not be a part of his administration.

More recently, the White House has retreated somewhat from that position, with Mr. Bush's chief spokesman, Scott McClellan, saying it would not be appropriate to comment in the course of the investigation.

Mr. McClellan said repeatedly at White House news briefings that both Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove had assured him they were not involved in unmasking Ms. Plame. So the charges lodged against Mr. Libby and the ongoing investigation of Mr. Rove offer abundant grist, at least for now, to critics who question the administration's commitment to truth and candor.

Democratic response was instantaneous. "These are very serious charges," Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate minority leader said. "They suggest that a senior White House adie put politics ahead of our national security and the rule of law. This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information. It is 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."

As the charges were announced, President Bush was returning to Washington from Norfolk, Va., naval base, where he delivered a speech on terrorism.

If the charges announced today lead to a conviction or guilty plea, the episode will stand in Washington history as another example of a cover-up becoming more serious than the original wrongdoing.

Questions about the extent of Mr. Libby's involvement in the affair intensified this week, when lawyers involved in the case said that Mr. Libby first learned about Ms. Wilson from Vice President Cheney on June 12, 2003, rather than from journalists several weeks after that date. Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, is a former diplomat who was highly critical of the Bush administration's case for going to war.

As recently as the last few days, F.B.I. agents questioned neighbors of the Wilsons in northwest Washington, seeking to determine whether it was commonly known that she was a C.I.A. officer, a person involved in the case said. Mrs. Wilson sometimes has been known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame.

Mr. Wilson learned of the indictment while at his home today. "If a crime was committed, it was a crime committed against the country," he said. "It's not about whether I'm vindicated or whether Valerie is vindicated, because this crime was not committed against us."

The indictment of Mr. Libby is the latest chapter in an episode that came to light in the summer of 2003. At first, the matter seemed like a tempest in a political teapot, driven by spite and revolving around the issue of whether anyone had violated an obscure federal statute that makes it illegal, under some circumstances, to unmask an undercover agent.

But well before the charges were announced, the affair had mushroomed into something far more serious. It resulted in the jailing of a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, who had resisted Mr. Fitzgerald's pressure to testify, and it provided regular grist for administration critics to assert that the Bush White House routinely bullied its political opponents.

On July 6, 2003, Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times recounting a trip to Niger at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency that left him highly skeptical of Bush administration assertions about Iraq's quest for nuclear material to make weapons.

Eight days after Mr. Wilson's article appeared, the columnist Robert D. Novak disclosed that Mr. Wilson's wife was a C.I.A. operative working on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, and that she had recommended her husband for the trip to Africa in 2002 to look into intelligence reports that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger that could be converted to weapons use. Mr. Novak wrote that he had learned of Mrs. Wilson's identity from two senior administration officials. The columnist has refused to say whether he testified before the grand jury.

The charge against Mr. Libby is not entirely a surprise. Both he and Mr. Rove testified several times before the grand jury about what seemed, at least on the surface, to be a relatively limited sequence of dates and events. Their repeated appearances before the panel stirred conjecture that the prosecutor was checking their testimony for contradictions with the accounts of other witnesses, or indeed to see if Mr. Libby or Mr. Rove had changed their own accounts over time.

News of the indictment came one day after President Bush's Supreme Court choice, Harriet E. Miers, withdrew her nomination after encountering criticism from both the political right and left.

The Bush administration has also been trying for weeks to get past criticism of its initial response to the hurricane-and-flood disaster that struck the Gulf Coast.

Moreover, the charges against Mr. Rove came not long after the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, on campaign fund-raising charges, and amid an inquiry into Senator Bill Frist's sale of stock in a family-owned company. Mr. Frist, Republican of Tennessee, is the Republican majority leader.

Mr. DeLay, who had to step down as House majority leader after his indictment, has called the charges against him the work of a partisan, publicity-happy prosecutor. And Mr. Frist's lawyer has said the senator has done nothing wrong and is cooperating fully in the investigation, still in its early stages.

But the charges against Mr. Libby and the problems, momentary or otherwise, of Mr. DeLay and Mr. Frist have already led Democratic strategists to pronounce as corrupt the Republican stewardship in Washington - meaning the White House and both chambers of Congress - and they will no doubt enter the 2006 and 2008 campaigns portraying Republicans as arrogant and too comfortable with the trappings of power.

It would be a political nightmare for Republicans if the charges against Mr. Libby go unresolved - or have been resolved against them - before the Senate and House elections of 2006.

Prosecutor to Speak Soon; No Indictment for Rove Today - New York Times

Prosecutor to Speak Soon; No Indictment for Rove Today - New York TimesOctober 28, 2005
Prosecutor to Speak Soon; No Indictment for Rove Today
By DAVID STOUT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and one of the most powerful figures in the Bush administration, was formally accused today of lying and obstruction of justice during an inquiry into the unmasking of a covert C.I.A. officer.

A federal grand jury indicted Mr. Libby on one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and two of making false statements in the course of an investigation that raised questions about the administration's rationale for going to war against Iraq, how it treats critics and political opponents and whether high White House officials shaded the truth.

The charges are felonies. Obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, while perjury and making false statements 5 years. Each of the five counts can also be punished with a $250,000 fine. Perjury is lying under oath, to a jury or other investigative body, while making false statements consists of lying to investigators while not under oath.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, was not charged today, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. Mr. Rove's lawyer confirmed that, according to The Associated Press. As a result, the people said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration today.

Mr. Libby resigned just before the indictment was handed up. The charges lodged today could spell professional ruin for the 55-year-old lawyer, unless he is acquitted or the charges are dismissed.

The prosecutor said Mr. Libby is accused of lying to F.B.I. agents who interviewed him on Oct. 14 and Nov. 26, 2003; perjured himself before the grand jury on March 5 and March 24, 2004, and engaged in obstruction of justice by impeding the grand jury's investigation into the leaking of Ms. Wilson's affiliation with the C.I.A. in the spring of 2003.

"When citizens testify before grand juries, they are required to tell the truth," Mr. Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nations or its citizens. The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens, including persons who hold high positions in government."

The indictment constitutes a body blow to the White House, which has faced political problems on several fronts of late and where Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been powerful presences - Mr. Rove as the White House deputy chief of staff and top political adviser, and Mr. Libby as an important adviser to one of the most powerful vice presidents in American history.

The development also capped a politically bruising week for Mr. Bush. Earlier in the week the 2,000th American death in Iraq was recorded, and on Thursday the president's nominee to the Supreme Court, Harriet E. Miers, withdrew her candidacy after being attacked by conservatives and having her legal credentials questioned by lawmakers of both parties.

Months ago, President Bush said anyone in his administration who committed a crime in connection with the disclosure of the name of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, would not be a part of his administration.

More recently, the White House has retreated somewhat from that position, with Mr. Bush's chief spokesman, Scott McClellan, saying it would not be appropriate to comment in the course of the investigation.

Mr. McClellan said repeatedly at White House news briefings that both Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove had assured him they were not involved in unmasking Ms. Plame. So the charges lodged against Mr. Libby and the ongoing investigation of Mr. Rove offer abundant grist, at least for now, to critics who question the administration's commitment to truth and candor.

Democratic response was instantaneous. "These are very serious charges," Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate minority leader said. "They suggest that a senior White House adie put politics ahead of our national security and the rule of law. This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information. It is 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."

As the charges were announced, President Bush was returning to Washington from Norfolk, Va., naval base, where he delivered a speech on terrorism.

If the charges announced today lead to a conviction or guilty plea, the episode will stand in Washington history as another example of a cover-up becoming more serious than the original wrongdoing.

Questions about the extent of Mr. Libby's involvement in the affair intensified this week, when lawyers involved in the case said that Mr. Libby first learned about Ms. Wilson from Vice President Cheney on June 12, 2003, rather than from journalists several weeks after that date. Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, is a former diplomat who was highly critical of the Bush administration's case for going to war.

As recently as the last few days, F.B.I. agents questioned neighbors of the Wilsons in northwest Washington, seeking to determine whether it was commonly known that she was a C.I.A. officer, a person involved in the case said. Mrs. Wilson sometimes has been known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame.

Mr. Wilson learned of the indictment while at his home today. "If a crime was committed, it was a crime committed against the country," he said. "It's not about whether I'm vindicated or whether Valerie is vindicated, because this crime was not committed against us."

The indictment of Mr. Libby is the latest chapter in an episode that came to light in the summer of 2003. At first, the matter seemed like a tempest in a political teapot, driven by spite and revolving around the issue of whether anyone had violated an obscure federal statute that makes it illegal, under some circumstances, to unmask an undercover agent.

But well before the charges were announced, the affair had mushroomed into something far more serious. It resulted in the jailing of a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, who had resisted Mr. Fitzgerald's pressure to testify, and it provided regular grist for administration critics to assert that the Bush White House routinely bullied its political opponents.

On July 6, 2003, Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times recounting a trip to Niger at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency that left him highly skeptical of Bush administration assertions about Iraq's quest for nuclear material to make weapons.

Eight days after Mr. Wilson's article appeared, the columnist Robert D. Novak disclosed that Mr. Wilson's wife was a C.I.A. operative working on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, and that she had recommended her husband for the trip to Africa in 2002 to look into intelligence reports that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger that could be converted to weapons use. Mr. Novak wrote that he had learned of Mrs. Wilson's identity from two senior administration officials. The columnist has refused to say whether he testified before the grand jury.

The charge against Mr. Libby is not entirely a surprise. Both he and Mr. Rove testified several times before the grand jury about what seemed, at least on the surface, to be a relatively limited sequence of dates and events. Their repeated appearances before the panel stirred conjecture that the prosecutor was checking their testimony for contradictions with the accounts of other witnesses, or indeed to see if Mr. Libby or Mr. Rove had changed their own accounts over time.

News of the indictment came one day after President Bush's Supreme Court choice, Harriet E. Miers, withdrew her nomination after encountering criticism from both the political right and left.

The Bush administration has also been trying for weeks to get past criticism of its initial response to the hurricane-and-flood disaster that struck the Gulf Coast.

Moreover, the charges against Mr. Rove came not long after the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, on campaign fund-raising charges, and amid an inquiry into Senator Bill Frist's sale of stock in a family-owned company. Mr. Frist, Republican of Tennessee, is the Republican majority leader.

Mr. DeLay, who had to step down as House majority leader after his indictment, has called the charges against him the work of a partisan, publicity-happy prosecutor. And Mr. Frist's lawyer has said the senator has done nothing wrong and is cooperating fully in the investigation, still in its early stages.

But the charges against Mr. Libby and the problems, momentary or otherwise, of Mr. DeLay and Mr. Frist have already led Democratic strategists to pronounce as corrupt the Republican stewardship in Washington - meaning the White House and both chambers of Congress - and they will no doubt enter the 2006 and 2008 campaigns portraying Republicans as arrogant and too comfortable with the trappings of power.

It would be a political nightmare for Republicans if the charges against Mr. Libby go unresolved - or have been resolved against them - before the Senate and House elections of 2006.

Prosecutor to Speak Soon; No Indictment for Rove Today - New York Times

Prosecutor to Speak Soon; No Indictment for Rove Today - New York TimesOctober 28, 2005
Prosecutor to Speak Soon; No Indictment for Rove Today
By DAVID STOUT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and one of the most powerful figures in the Bush administration, was formally accused today of lying and obstruction of justice during an inquiry into the unmasking of a covert C.I.A. officer.

A federal grand jury indicted Mr. Libby on one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and two of making false statements in the course of an investigation that raised questions about the administration's rationale for going to war against Iraq, how it treats critics and political opponents and whether high White House officials shaded the truth.

The charges are felonies. Obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, while perjury and making false statements 5 years. Each of the five counts can also be punished with a $250,000 fine. Perjury is lying under oath, to a jury or other investigative body, while making false statements consists of lying to investigators while not under oath.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, was not charged today, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. Mr. Rove's lawyer confirmed that, according to The Associated Press. As a result, the people said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration today.

Mr. Libby resigned just before the indictment was handed up. The charges lodged today could spell professional ruin for the 55-year-old lawyer, unless he is acquitted or the charges are dismissed.

The prosecutor said Mr. Libby is accused of lying to F.B.I. agents who interviewed him on Oct. 14 and Nov. 26, 2003; perjured himself before the grand jury on March 5 and March 24, 2004, and engaged in obstruction of justice by impeding the grand jury's investigation into the leaking of Ms. Wilson's affiliation with the C.I.A. in the spring of 2003.

"When citizens testify before grand juries, they are required to tell the truth," Mr. Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nations or its citizens. The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens, including persons who hold high positions in government."

The indictment constitutes a body blow to the White House, which has faced political problems on several fronts of late and where Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been powerful presences - Mr. Rove as the White House deputy chief of staff and top political adviser, and Mr. Libby as an important adviser to one of the most powerful vice presidents in American history.

The development also capped a politically bruising week for Mr. Bush. Earlier in the week the 2,000th American death in Iraq was recorded, and on Thursday the president's nominee to the Supreme Court, Harriet E. Miers, withdrew her candidacy after being attacked by conservatives and having her legal credentials questioned by lawmakers of both parties.

Months ago, President Bush said anyone in his administration who committed a crime in connection with the disclosure of the name of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, would not be a part of his administration.

More recently, the White House has retreated somewhat from that position, with Mr. Bush's chief spokesman, Scott McClellan, saying it would not be appropriate to comment in the course of the investigation.

Mr. McClellan said repeatedly at White House news briefings that both Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove had assured him they were not involved in unmasking Ms. Plame. So the charges lodged against Mr. Libby and the ongoing investigation of Mr. Rove offer abundant grist, at least for now, to critics who question the administration's commitment to truth and candor.

Democratic response was instantaneous. "These are very serious charges," Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate minority leader said. "They suggest that a senior White House adie put politics ahead of our national security and the rule of law. This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information. It is 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."

As the charges were announced, President Bush was returning to Washington from Norfolk, Va., naval base, where he delivered a speech on terrorism.

If the charges announced today lead to a conviction or guilty plea, the episode will stand in Washington history as another example of a cover-up becoming more serious than the original wrongdoing.

Questions about the extent of Mr. Libby's involvement in the affair intensified this week, when lawyers involved in the case said that Mr. Libby first learned about Ms. Wilson from Vice President Cheney on June 12, 2003, rather than from journalists several weeks after that date. Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, is a former diplomat who was highly critical of the Bush administration's case for going to war.

As recently as the last few days, F.B.I. agents questioned neighbors of the Wilsons in northwest Washington, seeking to determine whether it was commonly known that she was a C.I.A. officer, a person involved in the case said. Mrs. Wilson sometimes has been known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame.

Mr. Wilson learned of the indictment while at his home today. "If a crime was committed, it was a crime committed against the country," he said. "It's not about whether I'm vindicated or whether Valerie is vindicated, because this crime was not committed against us."

The indictment of Mr. Libby is the latest chapter in an episode that came to light in the summer of 2003. At first, the matter seemed like a tempest in a political teapot, driven by spite and revolving around the issue of whether anyone had violated an obscure federal statute that makes it illegal, under some circumstances, to unmask an undercover agent.

But well before the charges were announced, the affair had mushroomed into something far more serious. It resulted in the jailing of a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, who had resisted Mr. Fitzgerald's pressure to testify, and it provided regular grist for administration critics to assert that the Bush White House routinely bullied its political opponents.

On July 6, 2003, Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times recounting a trip to Niger at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency that left him highly skeptical of Bush administration assertions about Iraq's quest for nuclear material to make weapons.

Eight days after Mr. Wilson's article appeared, the columnist Robert D. Novak disclosed that Mr. Wilson's wife was a C.I.A. operative working on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, and that she had recommended her husband for the trip to Africa in 2002 to look into intelligence reports that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger that could be converted to weapons use. Mr. Novak wrote that he had learned of Mrs. Wilson's identity from two senior administration officials. The columnist has refused to say whether he testified before the grand jury.

The charge against Mr. Libby is not entirely a surprise. Both he and Mr. Rove testified several times before the grand jury about what seemed, at least on the surface, to be a relatively limited sequence of dates and events. Their repeated appearances before the panel stirred conjecture that the prosecutor was checking their testimony for contradictions with the accounts of other witnesses, or indeed to see if Mr. Libby or Mr. Rove had changed their own accounts over time.

News of the indictment came one day after President Bush's Supreme Court choice, Harriet E. Miers, withdrew her nomination after encountering criticism from both the political right and left.

The Bush administration has also been trying for weeks to get past criticism of its initial response to the hurricane-and-flood disaster that struck the Gulf Coast.

Moreover, the charges against Mr. Rove came not long after the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, on campaign fund-raising charges, and amid an inquiry into Senator Bill Frist's sale of stock in a family-owned company. Mr. Frist, Republican of Tennessee, is the Republican majority leader.

Mr. DeLay, who had to step down as House majority leader after his indictment, has called the charges against him the work of a partisan, publicity-happy prosecutor. And Mr. Frist's lawyer has said the senator has done nothing wrong and is cooperating fully in the investigation, still in its early stages.

But the charges against Mr. Libby and the problems, momentary or otherwise, of Mr. DeLay and Mr. Frist have already led Democratic strategists to pronounce as corrupt the Republican stewardship in Washington - meaning the White House and both chambers of Congress - and they will no doubt enter the 2006 and 2008 campaigns portraying Republicans as arrogant and too comfortable with the trappings of power.

It would be a political nightmare for Republicans if the charges against Mr. Libby go unresolved - or have been resolved against them - before the Senate and House elections of 2006.

Cheney Aide Appears Likely to Be Indicted; Rove Under Scrutiny - New York Times

Cheney Aide Appears Likely to Be Indicted; Rove Under Scrutiny - New York TimesOctober 28, 2005
Cheney Aide Appears Likely to Be Indicted; Rove Under Scrutiny
By DAVID JOHNSTON
and RICHARD W. STEVENSON

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 - Lawyers in the C.I.A. leak case said Thursday that they expected I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, to be indicted on Friday, charged with making false statements to the grand jury.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. As a result, they said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration on Friday.

As rumors coursed through the capital, Mr. Fitzgerald gave no public signal of how he intended to proceed, further intensifying the anxiety that has gripped the White House and left partisans on both sides of the political aisle holding their breath.

Mr. Fitzgerald's preparations for a Friday announcement were shrouded in secrecy, but advanced amid a flurry of behind-the-scenes discussions that left open the possibility of last-minute surprises. As the clock ticked down on the grand jury, people involved in the investigation did not rule out the disclosure of previously unknown aspects of the case.

White House officials said their presumption was that Mr. Libby would resign if indicted, and he and Mr. Rove took steps to expand their legal teams in preparation for a possible court battle.

Among the many unresolved mysteries is whether anyone in addition to Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove might be charged and in particular whether Mr. Fitzgerald would name the source who first provided the identity of a covert C.I.A. officer to Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist. Mr. Novak identified the officer in a column published July 14, 2003.

The investigation seemed to be taking an unexpectedly extended path after nearly two years in which Mr. Fitzgerald brought more than a dozen current and former administration officials before the grand jury and interviewed Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney to determine how the identity of the officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, became public.

Mr. Fitzgerald is expected to hold a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on Friday. His spokesman, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

Mr. Fitzgerald has examined whether the leak of Ms. Wilson's identity was part of an effort by the administration to respond to criticism of the White House by her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat. After traveling to Africa in 2002 on a C.I.A.-sponsored mission to look into claims that Iraq had sought to acquire material there for its nuclear weapons program, Mr. Wilson wrote in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, that the White House had "twisted" the intelligence regarding the suspected transaction to justify the invasion of Iraq.

At the White House, the withdrawal of Harriet E. Miers as the president's nominee to the Supreme Court dominated the day. Still, officials waited anxiously for word about developments in the investigation, which has the potential to shape the remainder of Mr. Bush's second term.

Officials said that Mr. Bush, who traveled to Florida on Thursday to view the damage from Hurricane Wilma, would keep to his planned schedule on Friday, including a speech on terrorism in Norfolk, Va., if indictments were announced.

Administration officials said that the White House would seek to keep as low a profile as possible if indictments were issued; Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, did not schedule a briefing for Friday, and Mr. Bush plans to leave in the afternoon for a weekend at Camp David.

With so much about the outcome of the case still in doubt, political strategists in Washington spent the day gaming out the implications of different endings.

The apparent delay in a decision about whether to charge Mr. Rove, and the continuation of the criminal inquiry, is a mixed outcome for the administration. It leaves open the possibility that Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's closest and most trusted adviser, could avoid indictment altogether, an outcome that would be not just a legal victory but also the best political outcome the White House could hope for under the circumstances.

Yet, in apparently leaving Mr. Rove in legal limbo for now, Mr. Fitzgerald has left him and Mr. Bush to twist in the uncertainty of a case that has delved deep into the innermost workings of the White House and provided Democrats an opportunity to attack the administration's honesty and the way it justified the war to the American people.

Mr. Rove has had to step back from many of his public duties, including appearing at fund-raisers, and he is likely to have to keep a low profile as long as the investigation continues. It could also leave him distracted, depriving the White House of his full attention at a time when Mr. Bush is struggling to regain his political footing after months in which the bloody insurgency in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers have left the administration stumbling.

An indictment of Mr. Libby, who is seen by many people in the White House as Mr. Cheney's alter ego, would also keep a focus on the way in which the administration built its case that Saddam Hussein was a threat who had to be dealt with. Any trial of Mr. Libby would likely shine a spotlight in particular on Mr. Cheney and his prewar role.

Mr. Fitzgerald has been closely examining the truthfulness of accounts given by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby about their conversations with reporters about Ms. Wilson. As early as February 2004, two months after he was appointed, Mr. Fitzgerald obtained a specific written authorization from James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general who appointed him, permitting him to investigate efforts to mislead the inquiry.

The prosecutor has inquired how Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove first learned that Ms. Wilson was employed at the C.I.A. and whether the discussions were part of a deliberate effort to undermine the credibility of her husband, according to lawyers in the case. The lawyers declined to be named, citing Mr. Fitzgerald's request not to discuss the case.

Allies of Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have hoped that Mr. Fitzgerald could be convinced that any misstatements were inadvertent and not intended to conceal their actions from prosecutors.

In addition, they have hoped that the prosecutor would conclude it would be difficult to convince a jury that Mr. Rove or Mr. Libby had a clear-cut motive to misinform the grand jury. Lawyers for the two men declined to comment on their legal status.

In Mr. Rove's case, the prosecutor appears to have focused on two conversations that Mr. Rove had with reporters. The first, on July 9, 2003, was with Mr. Novak. Mr. Rove told the grand jury that Mr. Novak mentioned Ms. Wilson and that was the first time he had heard Ms. Wilson's name.

Mr. Rove's second conversation took place on July 11, 2003, with Matthew Cooper, a reporter for Time magazine. Earlier this year, Mr. Cooper wrote that Mr. Rove did not name Ms. Wilson but told him that she worked at the C.I.A. and had been responsible for sending her husband to Africa.

In his first sessions with prosecutors, Mr. Rove did not disclose his phone conversation with Mr. Cooper, the lawyers said, though he disclosed from the start his conversation with Mr. Novak. The lawyers added that Mr. Rove did not recall the conversation with Mr. Cooper until the discovery of an e-mail note about the conversation that he had sent to Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser. But Mr. Fitzgerald has been skeptical about the omission, the lawyers said.

In Mr. Libby's case, Mr. Fitzgerald has focused on his statements about how he first learned of Ms. Wilson's identity. Early in the investigation, Mr. Libby turned over notes of a meeting with Mr. Cheney in June 2003 that indicated the vice president had told him about Ms. Wilson, the lawyers said.

But Mr. Libby told the grand jury that he learned of Ms. Wilson from reporters, lawyers involved in the case said. Reporters who are known to have talked to Mr. Libby have said that they did not provide him the name, could not recall what had been said or had discussed unrelated subjects.

Cheney Aide Appears Likely to Be Indicted; Rove Under Scrutiny - New York Times

Cheney Aide Appears Likely to Be Indicted; Rove Under Scrutiny - New York TimesOctober 28, 2005
Cheney Aide Appears Likely to Be Indicted; Rove Under Scrutiny
By DAVID JOHNSTON
and RICHARD W. STEVENSON

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 - Lawyers in the C.I.A. leak case said Thursday that they expected I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, to be indicted on Friday, charged with making false statements to the grand jury.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. As a result, they said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration on Friday.

As rumors coursed through the capital, Mr. Fitzgerald gave no public signal of how he intended to proceed, further intensifying the anxiety that has gripped the White House and left partisans on both sides of the political aisle holding their breath.

Mr. Fitzgerald's preparations for a Friday announcement were shrouded in secrecy, but advanced amid a flurry of behind-the-scenes discussions that left open the possibility of last-minute surprises. As the clock ticked down on the grand jury, people involved in the investigation did not rule out the disclosure of previously unknown aspects of the case.

White House officials said their presumption was that Mr. Libby would resign if indicted, and he and Mr. Rove took steps to expand their legal teams in preparation for a possible court battle.

Among the many unresolved mysteries is whether anyone in addition to Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove might be charged and in particular whether Mr. Fitzgerald would name the source who first provided the identity of a covert C.I.A. officer to Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist. Mr. Novak identified the officer in a column published July 14, 2003.

The investigation seemed to be taking an unexpectedly extended path after nearly two years in which Mr. Fitzgerald brought more than a dozen current and former administration officials before the grand jury and interviewed Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney to determine how the identity of the officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, became public.

Mr. Fitzgerald is expected to hold a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on Friday. His spokesman, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

Mr. Fitzgerald has examined whether the leak of Ms. Wilson's identity was part of an effort by the administration to respond to criticism of the White House by her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat. After traveling to Africa in 2002 on a C.I.A.-sponsored mission to look into claims that Iraq had sought to acquire material there for its nuclear weapons program, Mr. Wilson wrote in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, that the White House had "twisted" the intelligence regarding the suspected transaction to justify the invasion of Iraq.

At the White House, the withdrawal of Harriet E. Miers as the president's nominee to the Supreme Court dominated the day. Still, officials waited anxiously for word about developments in the investigation, which has the potential to shape the remainder of Mr. Bush's second term.

Officials said that Mr. Bush, who traveled to Florida on Thursday to view the damage from Hurricane Wilma, would keep to his planned schedule on Friday, including a speech on terrorism in Norfolk, Va., if indictments were announced.

Administration officials said that the White House would seek to keep as low a profile as possible if indictments were issued; Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, did not schedule a briefing for Friday, and Mr. Bush plans to leave in the afternoon for a weekend at Camp David.

With so much about the outcome of the case still in doubt, political strategists in Washington spent the day gaming out the implications of different endings.

The apparent delay in a decision about whether to charge Mr. Rove, and the continuation of the criminal inquiry, is a mixed outcome for the administration. It leaves open the possibility that Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's closest and most trusted adviser, could avoid indictment altogether, an outcome that would be not just a legal victory but also the best political outcome the White House could hope for under the circumstances.

Yet, in apparently leaving Mr. Rove in legal limbo for now, Mr. Fitzgerald has left him and Mr. Bush to twist in the uncertainty of a case that has delved deep into the innermost workings of the White House and provided Democrats an opportunity to attack the administration's honesty and the way it justified the war to the American people.

Mr. Rove has had to step back from many of his public duties, including appearing at fund-raisers, and he is likely to have to keep a low profile as long as the investigation continues. It could also leave him distracted, depriving the White House of his full attention at a time when Mr. Bush is struggling to regain his political footing after months in which the bloody insurgency in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers have left the administration stumbling.

An indictment of Mr. Libby, who is seen by many people in the White House as Mr. Cheney's alter ego, would also keep a focus on the way in which the administration built its case that Saddam Hussein was a threat who had to be dealt with. Any trial of Mr. Libby would likely shine a spotlight in particular on Mr. Cheney and his prewar role.

Mr. Fitzgerald has been closely examining the truthfulness of accounts given by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby about their conversations with reporters about Ms. Wilson. As early as February 2004, two months after he was appointed, Mr. Fitzgerald obtained a specific written authorization from James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general who appointed him, permitting him to investigate efforts to mislead the inquiry.

The prosecutor has inquired how Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove first learned that Ms. Wilson was employed at the C.I.A. and whether the discussions were part of a deliberate effort to undermine the credibility of her husband, according to lawyers in the case. The lawyers declined to be named, citing Mr. Fitzgerald's request not to discuss the case.

Allies of Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have hoped that Mr. Fitzgerald could be convinced that any misstatements were inadvertent and not intended to conceal their actions from prosecutors.

In addition, they have hoped that the prosecutor would conclude it would be difficult to convince a jury that Mr. Rove or Mr. Libby had a clear-cut motive to misinform the grand jury. Lawyers for the two men declined to comment on their legal status.

In Mr. Rove's case, the prosecutor appears to have focused on two conversations that Mr. Rove had with reporters. The first, on July 9, 2003, was with Mr. Novak. Mr. Rove told the grand jury that Mr. Novak mentioned Ms. Wilson and that was the first time he had heard Ms. Wilson's name.

Mr. Rove's second conversation took place on July 11, 2003, with Matthew Cooper, a reporter for Time magazine. Earlier this year, Mr. Cooper wrote that Mr. Rove did not name Ms. Wilson but told him that she worked at the C.I.A. and had been responsible for sending her husband to Africa.

In his first sessions with prosecutors, Mr. Rove did not disclose his phone conversation with Mr. Cooper, the lawyers said, though he disclosed from the start his conversation with Mr. Novak. The lawyers added that Mr. Rove did not recall the conversation with Mr. Cooper until the discovery of an e-mail note about the conversation that he had sent to Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser. But Mr. Fitzgerald has been skeptical about the omission, the lawyers said.

In Mr. Libby's case, Mr. Fitzgerald has focused on his statements about how he first learned of Ms. Wilson's identity. Early in the investigation, Mr. Libby turned over notes of a meeting with Mr. Cheney in June 2003 that indicated the vice president had told him about Ms. Wilson, the lawyers said.

But Mr. Libby told the grand jury that he learned of Ms. Wilson from reporters, lawyers involved in the case said. Reporters who are known to have talked to Mr. Libby have said that they did not provide him the name, could not recall what had been said or had discussed unrelated subjects.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers Withdraws Nomination for Supreme Court - New York Times

Miers Withdraws Nomination for Supreme Court - New York TimesOctober 27, 2005
Miers Failed to Win Support of Key Senators and Conservatives
By DAVID STOUT
and TIMOTHY WILLIAMS

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 - Harriet E. Miers withdrew her nomination for the Supreme Court this morning after weeks of increasingly heated debate over the depth of her conservative beliefs and her qualifications to fill the seat to be vacated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Ms. Miers, President Bush's White House counsel, told the president in a letter this morning that she feared that the confirmation process "presents a burden for the White House and our staff that is not in the best interest of the country." She said that even though her long career offered enough basis for senators to consider her nomination, "I am convinced the efforts to obtain executive branch materials and information will continue."

Mr. Bush issued a statement in which he accepted Ms. Miers's decision with regret, praised her "extraordinary legal experience" and her character and said he agreed that senators were intent on gaining access to internal White House documents about her service. Surrendering such paperwork would undercut any president's ability to get frank and unfettered advice from key aides, Mr. Bush said.

"Harriet Miers's decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the Constitutional separation of powers - and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her," the president said. Mr. Bush said he would announce a new nominee "in a timely manner."

Ms. Miers's withdrawal is a severe political blow to President Bush, who had vowed to stand behind his nominee. The withdrawal comes as senior members of the Bush administration face possible indictment growing out of the disclosure of the identity of a C.I.A. officer two years ago. Public opinion polls also show that the president's popularity has fallen dramatically as the war in Iraq continues to claim Iraqi and American lives with no end in sight.

Ms. Miers called President Bush at 8:30 Wednesday evening to inform him she had decided to step aside, the president's chief spokesman, Scott McClellan, said today. Mr. McClellan said the decision was hers alone, in recognition of the "unresolvable impasse" over the issue of separation of powers. As he has repeatedly, Mr. McClellan described Ms. Miers as "extraordinarily well qualified."

Although the president and Ms. Miers cited the principle of separation of powers as the basis for her withdrawal, there appeared to be much more to it than that. The nominee had been severely criticized by senators of all political stripes - by conservatives who doubted her commitment to their cause, especially her feelings about abortion, and by moderates and liberals, who said they knew too little about her, especially since she had never been a judge.

That lack of a "paper trail" was the reason that senators offered for seeking documents related to her White House service - documents that Mr. Bush said he would never submit. Indeed, not many days ago Mr. Bush said that principle was "a red line" that he would never cross.

Coincidentally or not, Ms. Miers's withdrawal, ostensibly over the principle of separation of powers as it relates to White House papers, is the very scenario that some conservative commentators have suggested as a face-saving ploy for the nominee and the White House. And while Mr. McClellan insisted that Ms. Miers had decided on her own to withdraw, there were no indications that the White House had tried to dissuade her.

The timing of her withdrawal was curious in some ways. As recently as Wednesday afternoon, for example, she had been calling on senators on Capitol Hill. Moreover, on Wednesday evening she submitted a revised questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee, supplementing an original that senators in both parties had described as wholly inadequate.

Hovering over the nomination process in the three weeks since President Bush announced the selection of Ms. Miers was the sense that, in addition to the other hurdles she faced, she was not very lucky. Her lack of judicial experience, and her failure to impress senators in face-to-face meetings, made her suffer in comparison to Judge John G. Roberts Jr., Mr. Bush's nominee for chief justice.

Judge Roberts, who was confirmed by 78 to 22, had sat on the influential United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and it was generally acknowledged that his intellect and knowledge of constitutional law dazzled many senators.

Ms. Miers has been described by friends and associates as intelligent, principled and discreet to the point of shyness. She was also one of the first women to become a partner of a major Texas law firm and to head the Texas Bar Association. But in the end, those qualities were not enough. With opposition from both Republicans and Democrats, it had become increasingly likely that Ms. Miers, 60, would fail to garner enough votes to be confirmed by the Senate.

The varying reactions of senators to the withdrawal reflected personal sympathy for Ms. Miers. They illustrated, too, the somewhat convoluted nature of the support for her and the opposition to her.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic minority leader, said, "The radical right wing of the Republican Party killed the Harriet Miers nomination. Apparently, Ms. Miers did not satisfy those who want to pack the Supreme Court with rigid ideologues." Mr. Reid said he had been impressed with Ms. Miers and had urged the president to consider nominating her.

But Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who is on the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on CNN that "at the end of the day, we were not given the documents that we believed we needed to give good advice and consent on this nomination."

The fierce opposition to Ms. Miers's nomination from within Republican ranks, and her subsequent withdrawal, raised the possibility that Mr. Bush might seek to placate conservatives with a nominee whose views could harden opposition among Democrats.

Concern among conservatives over Ms. Miers's views on abortion and judicial philosophy heightened on Wednesday when The Washington Post reported that Ms. Miers, in a 1993 speech in Dallas, spoke approvingly about a trend toward "self-determination" in resolving debates about law and religion, including those involving abortion rights and religion in public schools and public places.

Before Ms. Miers was nominated by President Bush, those said to have been under serious consideration for the seat included Judge Karen J. Williams, 54, of Orangeburg, S.C., who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who would be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.

Senator Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, said that he believed that Ms. Miers was forced to withdraw because she lacked the requisite support among Republicans.

"I think it was a lot of the president's friends and supporters in the Senate who said, 'We're really not comfortable with this nominee,' " Mr. Lott told CNN.

Mr. Lott said it was not concerns about Ms. Miers's stances on such issues as abortion, gay rights and religion in public life, but the "breadth of her experience and her qualifications." But he added that the president should appoint a "strict constructionist conservative."

Mr. McClellan, the White House spokesman, said Mr. Bush would select just such a person - and that Harriet Miers, back in her role as White House counsel, would help in the selection. As for the suggestion that Ms. Miers was simply "a stalking horse for an ultra-conservative nominee" soon to be named, Mr. McClellan said, "That's an interesting conspiracy theory."

Before becoming the president's counsel, Ms. Miers had served as assistant to the president, the president's deputy chief of staff, and staff secretary at the White House.

A close friend of the president since Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Ms. Miers had been co-managing partner at the Texas law firm Locke Liddell & Sapp, L.L.P., from 1998 to 2000. Mr. Bush had appointed her as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission, where she served from 1995 until 2000.

In 1985, she became the first female president of the Dallas Bar Association, and in 1992, she became the first woman to serve as president of the Texas State Bar. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she had also been a member of the Dallas City Council.

A Republican moderate, Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, said this week that he needed "to get a better feel for her intellectual capacity and judicial philosophy, core competence issues."

"I certainly go into this with concerns," Mr. Coleman said in remarks typical of moderates in both parties.

Senator Schumer said today that President Bush should take his time in picking a new nominee to replace Justice O'Connor. The selection process, Mr. Schumer said, should include discussions about potential nominees with the Senate.

"One of the real reasons for this mistake was there was no real consultation," he said.

David Stout reported from Washington for this article and Timothy Williams from New York. Brian Knowlton of The International Herald Tribune contributed reporting.