A special prosecutor investigating whether administration officials illegally leaked the name of an undercover CIA operative sought yesterday to interview two Washington Post reporters in connection with the probe.
Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald told Post lawyer Eric Lieberman that he wants to talk to Post reporters Walter Pincus and Glenn Kessler but declined to discuss the information he is seeking, Lieberman said. Lieberman said he told Fitzgerald he would respond to the request next week.
The request to interview reporters may suggest the probe is winding up, because Justice Department guidelines require that prosecutors exhaust all other avenues before taking the step of calling reporters before a grand jury. If that is the case, as some attorneys for witnesses believe, it is not clear whether Fitzgerald is moving toward seeking indictments in the case or whether he is preparing to complete it without bringing criminal charges.
Because the probe involves a possible national security breach, it is being conducted amid extraordinary secrecy. Fitzgerald has interviewed some current and former White House officials repeatedly, people involved in the case have said. Several administration officials have testified before a grand jury in recent weeks, some for the first time.
The investigators are trying to determine who revealed CIA officer Valerie Plame's name to columnist Robert D. Novak last July, a possible crime if it was done with the intention of exposing her undercover status.
At the CIA's request, Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, investigated claims that Iraq sought to purchase uranium and subsequently accused the Bush administration of overstating Iraq's efforts to develop nuclear weapons. He has suggested that his wife was exposed in retaliation for his findings.