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Slate's Politics: Capital Buzz over Plame Probe

NOAH ADAMS, host:

From NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. Alex Chadwick is on assignment. I'm Noah Adams. Coming up, thousands of new homes in a delta region, but not Louisiana.

And first, two years of investigation into who might have revealed a CIA officer's identity are coming down to a final two days. Much of Washington, DC, is anticipating the possibility of indictments that reach into the Bush White House after the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame. Today a special counsel in the case again convened a federal grand jury looking into this leak, and joining us is Slate correspondent John Dickerson.

John, tell us where the grand jury is now and what's happening.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, the grand jury is sitting in the jury room and they're listening to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. We're not--it doesn't look like they have any witnesses in front of them. There's been so much speculation in these final moments here, and so much activity. Fitzgerald's men have been out interviewing neighbors of Valerie Plame. They've been talking to midlevel White House officials, past and present, and so it wouldn't be crazy for new witnesses to be in front of the grand jury, but the speculation here in Washington is they're hearing the final parts of the case and then perhaps Fitzgerald is even asking for indictment.

ADAMS: And how are you aware of what's happening in that room? How does that happen?

DICKERSON: We're not really aware. What happens is cameras are stationed out in front of the building, and they notice anybody who goes in and out. All the cameramen have sort of a roster of who the characters are, and we hear reports from who goes in and out. If anybody testifies in front of the grand jury, they can then go talk about it afterwards, which is how we've heard from Matt Cooper and Judith Miller about their testimony in front of the grand jury. And so we kind of piece the puzzle together that way.

ADAMS: Now you mentioned FBI investigators in the neighborhood talking to Valerie Plame's neighbors. Now they would have known her as Valerie Wilson. What are they looking for there?

DICKERSON: Well, they're looking to see--and this goes back to the underlying charge that got this whole thing kicked off, to see if any of the people who live next door to her knew that she worked for the CIA, and there's conflicting reports on that. Some of the neighbors said, `No, we thought she was just an energy consultant and a soccer mom,' and others have said, `No, we knew she worked for the CIA.' But of course, investigators are looking for one step further, which is did they know she worked in an undercover capacity to fit the very strict laws of this one law that kicked this whole investigation off.

ADAMS: When the fireworks start here, there's going to have to be a name sort of displayed up in the sky. Is it going to be Karl Rove of President Bush's staff, or Lewis Libby of Vice President Dick Cheney's staff or somebody else? What do you think?

DICKERSON: I think those two names have been in the news for the last couple of weeks for good reason. We know that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby talked to reporters about Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife and where she worked. Wilson was the one who went to Niger to look after administration claims that Saddam Hussein had sought unenriched uranium there. And those two officials have also been the ones that have really sort of had the focus of Fitzgerald's investigation. So we expect if anything's going to happen, it's going to be related to Rove or to Libby.

ADAMS: Difficult to ask about White House mood, but let me give it a try here. Do you think the Bush administration is seeing this as the end of something or worried that it's the start of something?

DICKERSON: Well, I think they're saying it's both. It's the end of an interminable, for them, period of waiting for a big shoe to drop, and they--the most frustrating thing for them is they have no ability to kind of do anything. They have to wait for some news here. And then once they get the news--they hope, of course, there won't be indictments, but I think the mood there is that something probably is coming along the lines of an indictment, and then they'll just have to sort of battle back. But at least they'll have something against which to battle, as opposed to just swinging their arms at speculation.

ADAMS: Slate's John Dickerson, talking with us from Washington, DC.

Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.