Out of thin air

Wednesday's New York Times reports 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 — The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials say.

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is not expected to take any action in the case this week, government officials said. A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

A final report had long been considered an option for Mr. Fitzgerald if he decided not to accuse anyone of wrongdoing, although Justice Department officials have been dubious about his legal authority to issue such a report.

By signaling that he had no plans to issue the grand jury's findings in such detail, Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to narrow his options either to indictments or closing his investigation with no public disclosure of his findings, a choice that would set off a political firestorm. 

In fact, as Victoria Toensing observes, the special prosecutor is  not going to write a report because he has no authority to do so.  
 
If you read past the breathless speculation even the Times concedes that:

Under Justice Department regulations, it is not clear whether Mr. Fitzgerald has the authority to issue a final report, even if he wanted to, although he has operated under a broad delegation of authority, issued in a pair of letters by James B. Comey, the former deputy attorney general. Those directives gave Mr. Fitzgerald virtually the same power as the attorney general to conduct criminal inquiries.

But even the attorney general is restricted in what information he can release publicly or present to Congress when it has been obtained, as Mr. Fitzgerald has gathered it, through extensive use of a grand jury, whose proceedings are secret.

Had the Times conceded this earlier in the story, what would they have filled the blank space with?

Clarice Feldman  10 18 05

Wednesday's New York Times reports 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 — The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials say.

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is not expected to take any action in the case this week, government officials said. A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

A final report had long been considered an option for Mr. Fitzgerald if he decided not to accuse anyone of wrongdoing, although Justice Department officials have been dubious about his legal authority to issue such a report.

By signaling that he had no plans to issue the grand jury's findings in such detail, Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to narrow his options either to indictments or closing his investigation with no public disclosure of his findings, a choice that would set off a political firestorm. 

In fact, as Victoria Toensing observes, the special prosecutor is  not going to write a report because he has no authority to do so.  
 
If you read past the breathless speculation even the Times concedes that:

Under Justice Department regulations, it is not clear whether Mr. Fitzgerald has the authority to issue a final report, even if he wanted to, although he has operated under a broad delegation of authority, issued in a pair of letters by James B. Comey, the former deputy attorney general. Those directives gave Mr. Fitzgerald virtually the same power as the attorney general to conduct criminal inquiries.

But even the attorney general is restricted in what information he can release publicly or present to Congress when it has been obtained, as Mr. Fitzgerald has gathered it, through extensive use of a grand jury, whose proceedings are secret.

Had the Times conceded this earlier in the story, what would they have filled the blank space with?

Clarice Feldman  10 18 05