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.”
More below the fold . . .
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. […]
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.
So, it seems they aren’t backing down, nor are they disclosing their sources. I don’t know how to take that, frankly. In one sense, I admire them for standing by a story they clearly believe was true when it was written. Leopold’s credibility has been called into question by a number of incidents (most recently, the allegations by Joe Lauria in the Washington Post that Leopold has been impersonating him). Yet, Ash and the rest of the Truthout editors continue to assert that they were right on the facts when they published Leopold’s story that Rove had been indicted.
Were Truthout and Jason Leopold used by Fitzgerald and his office to obtain concessions from Rove, as Ash contends? I have no idea how to evaluate that claim. It would be nice if Fitzgerald’s office would clear that up, one way or the other, by going on the record regarding the facts as reported by Leopold, but to date Fitzgerald hasn’t had any desire to do so.