Two news media organizations have filed motions to quash subpoenas that were issued by a special prosecutor investigating the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity, attorneys in the case said yesterday.
The motions, filed under seal Friday as part of ongoing grand jury proceedings in Washington, ask a judge to throw out the subpoenas or issue a protective order blocking testimony, according to Robin Bierstedt, deputy general counsel for Time magazine.
Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has subpoenaed Tim Russert, host of NBC News's "Meet the Press," and Time reporter Matt Cooper as part of the inquiry into whether White House officials leaked the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA officer married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Wilson, a harsh critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, has suggested that Plame's undercover status was revealed as retaliation.
Bierstedt said the government has until June 16 to respond to the motions by Time and NBC News. An attorney for the network declined to comment, and an NBC spokeswoman did not return a telephone call.
The move by prosecutors to seek testimony from journalists may signal that the six-month investigation is nearing its end, because Justice Department guidelines require that all other avenues of inquiry be exhausted first. Vice President Cheney was recently interviewed by representatives of Fitzgerald, and President Bush has consulted with a private attorney regarding the investigation.
Plame's identity was first revealed by columnist Robert D. Novak on July 14, and the episode was subsequently explored by other news organizations.
Fitzgerald has also sought to interview Newsday and Washington Post reporters.