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Rove Told Jury Libby May Have Been His Source In Leak Case

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It is possible the public will never learn the answers to these and other questions because Fitzgerald is not required to produce a report and could complete the investigation without charging anyone with a crime.

But White House officials and lawyers are prepared for Fitzgerald to charge at least one official, and maybe more.

Fitzgerald began the probe seeking to determine whether any government official illegally leaked Plame's identity to the media in retaliation for Wilson's criticism that the administration had twisted intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. Wilson, who had traveled on a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger, had questioned President Bush's assertion that Baghdad had tried to obtain uranium in Africa for a nuclear weapons program.

The new information about Hannah signals how broadly the prosecutor has probed for answers. As Cheney's deputy national security adviser, he was intimately involved in Iraq policy.

Hannah is one of at least five people in the Cheney operation who have been interviewed by federal investigators.

Fitzgerald's interest in the vice president's office became clearer as the case continued: Cheney was central to building the case that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein sought nuclear weapons-grade material in Niger and Libby helped discredit Wilson in part by talking about his wife, according to lawyers in the case.

Fitzgerald talked to Cheney personally near the beginning of the investigation, though according to a person familiar with the case, he has not questioned him since. Fitzgerald and his investigative team interviewed Mary Matalin, a former top Cheney adviser; Catherine Martin, his former communications adviser; and Jennifer Millerwise, his former spokeswoman.

Among the media, most of the focus has been on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who spent 85 days in jail before agreeing to testify about her conversations with Libby, and Time magazine's Matt Cooper, the other reporter whom Fitzgerald threatened to jail if he did not reveal his sources.

Cooper, after receiving permission from sources, testified before the grand jury and later said publicly that Rove and Libby had talked to him about Plame. But other reporters were contacted by other White House officials about Plame during the crucial week in July 2003 after Wilson's views became public, according to government officials and people involved in the case.

This leaves open the possibility of a broader leak campaign. In September of 2003, a senior administration official told The Post that at least six journalists were contacted about Plame by two top White House officials.

One of the longest-running mysteries of the case is the identity of Novak's second source. Rove has testified that he discussed Plame in passing with Novak, but it is not clear who else did. Novak has provided scant information about the person's identity. It is unknown whether Novak has cooperated with Fitzgerald, but many familiar with the case believe he has because he did not face the same contempt of court charges levied against Miller and Cooper.

A member of the staff of James Hamilton, Novak's lawyer, said he had no comment.


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