The Slow Cooked Goose
Karl Rove, the president's chief political strategist, may have felt relief last week when he avoided an indictment from Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, and instead had a walk-on role under the legal pseudonym "Official A" in the indictment of his colleague, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. But Mr Fitzgerald's record as attorney in Chicago – when he has cited "Official A" in other court filings – is ominous. Official As usually get indicted.
A former federal prosecutor said: "That suggests that A was within the scope of the investigation and that the grand jury found probable cause to believe the official did what the indictment says. Whether that official will be indicted, there is no way to tell. One reason not to identify them is that you do not wish to injure his reputation when there is little chance of indictment, or you want to disguise the progress of your investigation."
Mr Fitzgerald's record points to the latter. The best example concerns George Ryan, the former governor of Illinois. In May 2002 an indictment referred to a mysterious "Official A", charged with authorising kickbacks in return for a share. Mr Ryan denied he was the official. "I don't believe I am. I sure as hell don't think I am." Fast- forward three years and Mr Ryan has been not only unmasked as Official A but in September went on trial on 22 counts of corruption.