Reprieve for Rove, Libby, et al

If you are waiting for word on possible indictments in the Plamegate scandal, you will have to wait. ABC News reports that according to a spokesperson for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, no announcement will come today.

The White House braced for the possibility that Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, could become a criminal defendant by week’s end. Bush’s top political adviser, Karl Rove, remained in jeopardy of being charged with false statements.

Libby and Rove arrived for work at the White House Thursday as usual. Rove attended the daily meeting of the senior staff, but Libby did not and was said to be in a security briefing. Libby misses senior staff about half the time because of intelligence briefings and other issues on Cheney’s schedule, an official said.

Separately, Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, said there would be no announcements in the probe on Thursday.

The grand jury convened to probe the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame is slated to expire tomorrow. It is possible that Fitzgerald could squeeze out more time if he needs it, though word is that indictments, if any, will be announced Friday.

From the Washington Post:

Should he need more time to finish the investigation, Fitzgerald could seek to impanel a new group of grand jurors to consider the case. But sources familiar with the prosecutor’s work said he had indicated he is eager to avoid that route. The term of the current grand jury has been extended once and cannot be lengthened again, according to federal rules.

Taking whatever time is necessary makes sense. If indictments are to come, it is essential that the case against possible defendants is just and strong. If there truly is a worthy case against members of the Bush Administration, that case will be just as worthy tomorrow or next week or next month. After all, no decent person wants to see an innocent person charged erroneously — and no smart person wants to see a treasonous criminal slide out of trouble over a technicality.

Dotting the Is and crossing the Ts is the smart move. If Fitzgerald is going to indict, he should take the time to make sure he’s got it right.

In the meantime, Washington braces itself for what may be an anything but casual Friday.

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