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CIA leak case back before grand jury

WASHINGTON -- The CIA leak investigation returned to a more active stage yesterday as a special prosecutor presented information to a grand jury for the first time in six weeks.

Special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's decision to enlist a new grand jury comes as he continues to investigate possible criminal charges against senior White House adviser Karl Rove. Rove faces possible legal consequences for not telling investigators for months that he had provided information about CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper in July 2003.

Rove disclosed the conversation only after Cooper was subpoenaed to testify about their discussions, said sources familiar with Rove's account. Rove maintains that he initially forgot about the contact, the sources said.

Yesterday was the first time a grand jury has met to consider the case since Oct. 28, when a previous grand jury indicted I. Lewis ''Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Fitzgerald, who arrived with four deputies, an FBI agent, and boxes of files, declined to comment on the three-hour session as he left the courthouse. No witnesses were seen entering the grand jury room.

But several legal specialists and sources involved in the case said Fitzgerald was probably providing the new grand jury with a primer on what has been learned in the investigation and what remains unresolved. They said the prosecutor's move could spell trouble for Rove, or for other people enmeshed in more recent developments in the case.

Fitzgerald has spent two years investigating whether White House officials knowingly disclosed Wilson's identity and undercover status in 2003 to discredit allegations made by her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, that the Bush administration twisted intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

The term of the previous grand jury expired on the day it indicted Libby on five felony counts of lying, perjury, and obstruction of justice. Fitzgerald said then that he would continue to look into lingering issues, and he privately told Rove's lawyer that Rove remained under investigation.

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