What will follow will be a rather frank discussion of our reporting of and involvement in the Rove indictment matter. If you like simple answers or quick resolutions, turn back now. This is our report to our readership. Our primary sources for this report are career federal law enforcement and federal government officials speaking on condition of anonymity. This report was developed under the supervision of all of Truthout's senior editors, which should be taken as an indication that we view this matter with the utmost seriousness.
For the record, we did reach Kimberly Nerheim, a spokesperson for Patrick Fitzgerald, and asked her these questions: Did a grand jury return an indictment of Karl Rove? Did Patrick Fitzgerald send a fax to Robert Luskin similar to that described in recent press reports? Is Patrick Fitzgerald's probe of the Plame matter still ongoing? Her response to each question was identical: "I have no comment."
The Rove indictment story is way beyond - in terms of complexity - any other story we have ever covered. In essence, we found out something we were not supposed to find out, and things exploded from there. We were not prepared for the backlash.
On Tuesday, June 13, when the mainstream media broke their stories that Karl Rove had been exonerated, there were frank discussions amongst our senior editors about retracting our stories outright. The problem we wrestled with was what exactly do we retract? Should we say that Rove had not in fact been indicted? Should we say that our sources provided us with false or misleading information? Had Truthout been used? Without a public statement from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald we felt that it was premature to retract our report.
After spending the past month retracing our steps and confirming facts, we've come full circle. Our sources continue to maintain that a grand jury has in fact returned an indictment. Our sources said that parts of the indictment were read to Karl Rove and his attorney on Friday, May 12, 2006. Last week, we pointed to a sealed federal indictment, case number "06 cr 128," which is still sealed and we are still pointing to it. During lengthy conversations with our sources over the past month, they reiterated that the substance of our report on May 13, 2006, was correct, and immediately following our report, Karl Rove's status in the CIA leak probe changed. In summary, as we press our investigation we find indicators that more of our key facts are correct, not less.
That leaves the most important question: If our sources maintain that a grand jury has returned an indictment - and we have pointed to a criminal case number that we are told corresponds to it - then how is it possible that Patrick Fitzgerald is reported to have said that 'he does not anticipate seeking charges against Rove at this time?' That is a very troubling question, and the truth is, we do not yet have a definitive answer. We also continue to be very troubled that no one has seen the reported communication from Fitzgerald to Rove's attorney Robert Luskin, and more importantly, how so much public judgment could be based on a communication that Luskin will not put on the table. Before we can assess the glaring contradiction between what our sources say and what Luskin says Fitzgerald faxed to him, we need to be able to consider what was faxed - and in its entirety.
What appears to have happened is that - and this is where Truthout blundered - in our haste to report the indictment we never considered the possibility that Patrick Fitzgerald would not make an announcement. We simply assumed - and we should not have done so - that he would tell the press. He did not. Fitzgerald appears to have used the indictment, and more importantly, the fear that it would go public, to extract information about the Plame outing case from Rove.
Yes, it does appear that Truthout was used, but not lied to or misled. The facts appear to have been accurate. We reported them, and in so doing, apparently became an instrument. From all indications, our reports, first on May 13 that Rove had been indicted, and then on June 12 when we published case number "06 cr 128," forced Rove and Luskin back to the table with Fitzgerald, not once but twice. They apparently sought to avoid public disclosure and were prepared to do what they had to do to avoid it.
The electronic communication from Fitzgerald to Luskin, coming immediately on the heels of our Monday morning, June 12 article "Sealed vs. Sealed" that became the basis for the mainstream media's de facto exoneration of Karl Rove was, our sources told us, negotiated quickly over the phone later that afternoon. Luskin contacted Fitzgerald, reportedly providing concessions that Fitzgerald considered to be of high value, and Fitzgerald reportedly reciprocated with the political cover Rove wanted in the form of a letter that was faxed to Luskin's office.
Our sources provided us with additional detail, saying that Fitzgerald is apparently examining closely Dick Cheney's role in the Valerie Plame matter, and apparently sought information and evidence from Karl Rove that would provide documentation of Cheney's involvement. Rove apparently was reluctant to cooperate and Fitzgerald, it appears, was pressuring him to do so, our sources told us.
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation is a unique chapter in American history. The probe has managed to shed light into the inner recesses of perhaps the most secretive presidential administration in US history. His mission is not political, and he will not allow it to be.
However, we call upon the Special Counsel to consider the right of the American people to know what has happened. Nothing, we believe, is more important to the survival of democracy than the light of justice, and nothing more damaging than the curtain of secrecy that today surrounds the highest office in the land.
Joe Lauria and The Washington Post's Attacks on Jason Leopold
We are well aware of the Lauria article and the series of attacks The Washington Post has launched against Jason Leopold and Truthout. As always, we will carefully consider all information and then publish a thoughtful response. In this case, we will publish our response on Wednesday, June 21, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Returning to "06 cr 128"
Truthout's Marc Ash updates the story: