Rove/Plame: a Dick in the hand

class=img_thumbleft>"Thick and fast" would be a considerable understatement in describing the torrent of speculation and connect-the-dots theorizing about Judith Miller and Karl Rove's encore appearances before the Plame grand jury this week. The thicket of minutiae brought to bear in bloggers' theories of the case is fast coming to resemble a Jeff Gerth piece on Whitewater (to recall another fine, fine hour in the annals of the New York Times).

Will the Fitzgerald investigation really conclude by October 28, when the current grand jury's term expires? Or the same question, put another way: Is Fitzgerald tying up loose ends now, or tugging at new threads? Yesterday Jane Hamsher wrote at firedoglake that "A source close to the Plame case is saying that Fitzgerald met alone with Judge Hogan yesterday, presumably to ask for an extension of the Grand Jury." No big surprise there: Sometimes when a domino falls, it reveals--more rows of dominoes. It's been reported in the New York Observer and elsewhere that Fitzgerald seemed genuinely surprised when Judith Miller's notes on her June conversation with Scooter Libby turned up. If he really had not anticipated finding such tangible evidence, it may afford him fresh leverage for probing deeper into the June activities of the White House Iraq Group, the committee that oversaw the selling of the war.

And if the inner workings of WHIG are broached in the investigation, the specter of Dick Cheney begins to loom unavoidably large. As ThinkProgress pointed out a while back, no fewer than five present or former Cheney staffers "have either been implicated in the leak or testified before the grand jury." Three of them--Scooter Libby, Mary Matalin, and Stephen Hadley--were members of WHIG. Jason Leopold adds this at Raw Story today: "Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is trying to determine whether Vice President Dick Cheney had a role in the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame-Wilson, individuals close to Fitzgerald say."

Common sense would say as much even if individuals close to Fitzgerald didn't. It's easy to believe that Bush was not privy to the day-to-day details of the propaganda effort, or much else, but Dick Cheney is a very can-do, hands-on guy. This opens delightful new vistas in the investigation, and makes the Harriet Miers appointment--doomed as it may be--seem a touch more comprehensible. If she survives the assault of her fellow flat-earthers in the Congress, she could yet be sitting on the Court in time to toss out subpoenas of the vice-president's office on grounds of executive privilege.

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