[blockquote] White House chief political strategist Karl Rove reportedly told the grand jury that he first learned of Valerie Plame's identity from columnist Robert Novak--but Novak's version of the story is that Rove already knew about her when the two spoke. Rove didn't mention his conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper to investigators at first and then said it was primarily about welfare reform. But Cooper has testified that the topic of welfare reform didn't came up. Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby apparently told prosecutors he first heard about Plame from NBC's Tim Russert, but Russert has testified that he neither offered nor received information about Plame in his conversation with Libby. And former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer apparently told prosecutors that he never saw a classified State Department memo that disclosed Plame's identity, but another former official reportedly saw him perusing it on Air Force One. [/blockquote]

When will the special prosecutor's investigation be finished?

There's no telling. The term of the present grand jury panel expires in October--at which point Judith Miller will presumably get out of jail--but Fitzgerald could seek to have it extended another six months. He could also pile criminal contempt charges on top of the civil ones Judith Miller is jailed for, thereby possibly extending her stay in the hoosegow past the term of the current grand jury. Otherwise the case seems at an end.

If, as Fitzgerald's words and actions both suggest, Miller really is a linchpin of the case he wants to make, the question of where this ends may come down to two factors: first, who is more stubborn and resourceful, Miller or Fitzgerald; and second, what sorts of charges, if any, Fitzgerald is in a position to bring without her testimony. It's still entirely possible that Miller will be the only person who ever does jail time in the matter.

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