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Jason Leopold: “Rove Indictments Sealed”

Here we go again.

The latest "truth" from Jason Leopold of Truthout:

Sealed vs. Sealed

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report

Monday 12 June 2006

Four weeks ago, during the time when we reported that White House political adviser Karl Rove was indicted for crimes related to his role in the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, the grand jury empanelled in the case returned an indictment that was filed under seal in US District Court for the District of Columbia under the curious heading of Sealed vs. Sealed.

As of Friday afternoon that indictment, returned by the grand jury the week of May 10th, remains under seal – more than a month after it was handed up by the grand jury.

The case number is "06 cr 128." On the federal court's electronic database, "06 cr 128" is listed along with a succinct summary: "No further information is available."

We have not seen the contents of the indictment "06 cr 128". But the fact that this indictment was returned by the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case on a day that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury raised a number of questions about the identity of the defendant named in the indictment, whether it relates to the leak case, and why it has been under seal for a month under the heading Sealed vs. Sealed.

True, the grand jury in the CIA leak case also meets to hear evidence on other federal criminal cases, including at least one other high-profile case – crimes related to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

The lead prosecutor on the Abramoff case is Peter Zeidenberg, who has worked alongside Patrick Fitzgerald in the CIA leak investigation for more than two years and has spent a considerable amount of time investigating Karl Rove's role in the leak. Zeidenberg is currently prosecuting David Safavian, who is on trial in US District Court, charged with obstruction and lying about his contacts with Abramoff.

Still, legal experts watching the Plame-Wilson investigation have been paying particularly close attention to Sealed vs. Sealed since the Karl Rove indictment story was published.

The legal scholars have said that a federal prosecutor can keep an indictment under seal for weeks or months – something that is commonplace in high-profile criminal cases – especially if an investigation, such as the CIA leak probe, is ongoing.

When told about the Sealed vs. Sealed indictment filed in US District Court, the legal experts became intrigued about the case because they say that most federal criminal indictments are filed under US vs. Sealed and that they rarely come across federal criminal indictments titled Sealed vs. Sealed, which to them suggests the prosecutor felt it necessary to add an extra layer of secrecy to an indictment to keep it out of public view.

"The question here is that nobody who I have spoken to – top criminal attorneys, law professors, etc. – is aware of the left part of the case title having been sealed," said one former federal criminal attorney. "That the right-hand side is sealed is almost pro-forma. But, what is not known is whether the US Attorney can seal the left hand part of the case title on his own."

The fact that the indictment has been under seal for more than a month also suggests that it involves a high-profile investigation, he said.

Additionally, it's entirely plausible for a federal prosecutor to obtain permission from a federal magistrate or a judge, have an indictment unsealed for the limited purpose of having parts of it read to a defendant and his or her attorneys in an attempt to have the defendant cooperate with an investigation to avoid facing further charges, legal experts said.

And then this follow-up report from Truthout's esteemed "Executive Director":

"06 cr 128"

By Marc Ash,

Mon Jun 12th, 2006 at 02:26:21 PM EDT:: Fitzgerald Investigation

Just a general review of Jason Leopold's latest article on the Fitzgerald investigation/Rove indictment – for clarity.

Once again we will attempt to clearly separate what we know from what we believe – and why. What we know will be based on official records and official statements. What we believe will be based on single source information and general background information obtained from experts. The conclusions we arrive at should be considered carefully, but not taken as statements of fact, per se.

We know for certain several things about federal indictment "06 cr 128" (Sealed vs. Sealed). The indictment was returned by the same grand jury that has been hearing matters related to the Fitzgerald/Plame investigation. The indictment was filed in the time frame (around May the 10th) that the indictment of Karl Rove was first reported. The title of the indictment, Sealed vs. Sealed, is unusual. Typically a sealed federal indictment will be titled, "US vs. Sealed." The indictment has been sealed for roughly five weeks, an unusually long time (although not unheard-of). We know that experts watching the Fitzgerald/Plame investigation are keeping a very close eye on "06 cr 128" (Sealed vs. Sealed). We know that we attempted to contact Karl Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, on two occasions while researching this issue and both calls went unreturned.

Now for what we believe: We believe that federal criminal indictment "06 cr 128" (Sealed vs. Sealed) is directly related to the Fitzgerald/Plame investigation. That's based on a single credible source and the information discussed above. We believe that Karl Rove is cooperating with federal investigators, and for that reason Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is not willing to comment on his status. That is based, again, on a single credible source, and background information provided by experts in federal criminal law. We believe that the indictment was returned and filed "on May 10 2006." Same single credible source, and details from the filing records. We believe that if any of the key facts that we have reported were materially false or inaccurate some statement to that effect would be forthcoming from Fitzgerald's staff. That is based on the same single credible source.

Brief note to our regulars:

One negative consequence of the Rove indictment firestorm has been that so much of what we cover that is so important to the community has been pushed into the background. There's a war going on, the right to vote is in doubt, democracy itself is under attack. Let's work together to keep our focus.

Marc Ash, Executive Director – t r u t h o u t
director@truthout.org

Despite their hyperventilations, this "theory" seems to be several weeks old.

It was heavily featured on the parody blog site, From the Desk of Patrick J. Fitzgerald:

Keep Pace…

5.26.2006

The PACER Service Center is the Federal Judiciary's centralized registration, billing, and technical support center for electronic access to U.S. District, Bankruptcy, and Appellate court records.

Between May 10 and May 17, the grand jury that meets in the leak case returned four sealed indictments. Three of those indictments have since been unsealed and have to do with non-related cases. One indictment remains sealed and is filed in the courthouse as SEALED v. SEALED.

I’m sure you’ve read about this on some blogs and have seen the theories. Most federal prosecutors have never seen a case filed as SEALED v. SEALED. It’s usually US v. SEALED, but this one is very special and there is the screenshot! ;)

Have a GREAT weekend.

posted by Patrick J. Fitzgerald at 5/26/2006

I have been reliably informed that this PACER record was checked out when it was new, and that the number on the filing is from the Libby case.

And that it seems to be a discovery issue involving Time magazine.

(Thanks to ever vigilant JohnX for the heads up on these doings.)

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, June 12th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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