Senior Administration Officials Could Be Charged With Criminal Conspiracy

The public defense of both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the CIA leak scandal have focused on the specific claim they didn’t know Valerie Plame’s name. Even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean anyone is off the hook.

If Patrick Fitzgerald is unable to prove a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, Rove, Libby and others could still be charged with perjury if they lied to investigators. Today’s Washington Post floats another possibility:

But a new theory about Fitzgerald’s aim has emerged in recent weeks from two lawyers who have had extensive conversations with the prosecutor while representing witnesses in the case. They surmise that Fitzgerald is considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials. Under this legal tactic, Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose.

The White House Iraq Group could be in trouble.