As top Bush aide Karl Rove prepares for his fourth grand-jury appearance, the federal probe into who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the media is believed to be wrapping up. But the investigation has taken a toll on White House aides, many of whom now fear that the special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, is intent on issuing indictments. "Fitzgerald's office, although very professional, has been very aggressive in pursuing people," the adviser said. "These guys are bullies, and they threaten you."
Reporter Judith Miller is set to meet again with prosecutors to discuss notes from a conversation with Cheney aide I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby that turned up after her Sept. 30 testimony. Meanwhile, lawyers for possible indictment targets are boning up on the Espionage Act, used to charge Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon papers, say people close to the probe. Fitzgerald would face fewer hurdles proving a case under the statute, which bars transmitting "information relating to the national defense" to anyone not entitled to receive it, than under the more exacting Intelligence Identities Protection Act. But national-security lawyer Kate Martin says, "Civil libertarians have always objected to [the Espionage Act] being used to prosecute leaks to the press." Though Ellsberg's indictment was dismissed, the statute was used to convict naval analyst Samuel Morison, in 1985 for giving a satellite photo to a defense magazine, and Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin last week for passing secrets to a pro-Israel group. --By Viveca Novak and Mike Allen