Fitzgerald Reveals Gamble in CIA Leak
By MATT APUZZO, The Associated Press
Jan 26, 2007 12:55 AM (16 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 2 of 18,294 articles
WASHINGTON - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald took a gamble three years ago that White House press secretary Ari Fleischer might break open his leak investigation.
As Fitzgerald's inquiry was heating up into who revealed CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to reporters, Fleischer stepped forward with an offer: Give me immunity from prosecution and I'll give you information that might help your case.
What prosecutors didn't know was that Fleischer was one of the leakers. And without immunity, he refused to talk. Not even a hint.
Prosecutors normally insist on an informal account of what a witness will say before agreeing to immunity. It's known in legal circles as a proffer, and Fitzgerald said Thursday that he never got one from Fleischer, who was chief White House spokesman for the first 2 1/2 years of President Bush's first term.
"I didn't want to give him immunity. I did so reluctantly," Fitzgerald said in court. "I was buying a pig in a poke."
Once the deal was struck in February 2004, Fleischer revealed that he had discussed Plame with reporters in July 2003, days before leaving his job at the White House.
Fleischer, who made a brief appearance at the courthouse on Thursday, is expected to testify early next week that he learned that the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson worked for the CIA from I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.
[H/T to Atrios.]