Wednesday, October 26, 2005

To seal or not to seal

UPDATE (1930 Eastern): this was posted on TWN last evening. So, this source has been debunked. Why? No indictments were filed today ("sealed ... filed tomorrow"). David Shuster says an NBC producer was in the magistrate's office all day to look for even a sealed indictment. Didn't happen.

BUT: Fitzgerald met with a judge, CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative's identity adjourned Wednesday afternoon and Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald made no public announcement of any action.

But Fitzgerald met with U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan, the chief judge of the District of Columbia, for about 45 minutes after the grand jury met, a court official told CNN.

"I can confirm a meeting took place in the chief judge's chambers after the grand jury met today," court spokesman Sheldon Snook said. He declined to say what they talked about.

Shuster offered three reasons to visit that judge. 1. Extend the grand jury. 2. Ask permission to indict under seal (which could bring TWN's uber-source back to life) or 3. Ask for a meeting day not scheduled (Thursday).

The above is in reference to what I published at 1800 Eastern. Please continue reading for that post.

Here's what The Washington Note says:

An uber-insider source has just reported the following to TWN (since confirmed by another independent source):

1. 1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end.

2. The targets of indictment have already received their letters.

3. The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow.

4. A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday.

The shoe is dropping.

More soon.

-- Steve Clemons

The attribution "uber-insider" is hardly a great sourcing for this story. There are a few reasons to doubt this source. But a few reasons to think it plausible.

DOUBT: Why the massive range of possible indictments? It would be one thing to report a plural (2+) indictments, but a range is suspicious.

DOUBT: I mean, this isn't exactly the Drudge Report, you know? On a matter like this, we must be weary of speculation -- even honest speculation from a decent source -- conveyed as certainty.

PLAUSIBLE: If Fitzgerald had indicted someone who had not received a target letter, the sealing process could afford that person a day to prepare for their public reaction and to level the playing field among the indicted (all receiving target letters). But statement number 2 leads one to believe that they all had their letters, so why the delay?

Does Fitzgerald want to cool the press for a day? Is statement 2 poorly written? Have indicted members requested a delay for the sake of the country?

Or is this report just bull?

PLAUSIBLE: (The indictments happened, nothing about The Washington Note) there were a lot of reports about details gathered by FBI agents. Those neighbors quoted in the press have provided details conducive to an indictment.

We'll know about this uber source tomorrow. One thing to ask yourself about the first point (1-5) is who would receive only an estimate? Maybe a webdesigner.

A LOT more people know what is going on today insofar as indictments than at the beginning of the day. There are a whole new set of Tea Leaves out there.

Who was the source(s?) who told ABC, CNN, AP etc. etc. that there would be no announcement from Fitzgerald today. The AP reported the source as someone in the Justice department:

A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the grand jury probe, said no announcement was expected Wednesday by Fitzgerald.

That's no "lawyer familiar with the case" my friends. That could very well be a link to Fitzgerald trying to blow the media back for a day (or more).

How well does Fitzgerald make .pdfs, web pages and all that?


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