STATE AND DEFENSE GET LETTERS OF THEIR OWN….The Plame investigation is growing:

The investigation into the leak of a CIA operative?s name is likely to expand to other Bush administration agencies, including the State and Defense departments, U.S. officials said Thursday.

A senior Justice Department official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that those agencies, and possibly others, could get letters urging them not to delete e-mails and to preserve documents such as telephone logs.

Similar letters have already gone to the White House and CIA. Defense Department officials confirmed Thursday that they had been told to expect such a letter, the AP reported.

Is this a good thing? Maybe, maybe not. Consider this:

Law enforcement experts said the investigators’ first task would be to narrow the list of government officials who were aware of the agent?s identity ? a number believed to be in the hundreds. That was expected to be a difficult task.

Former Attorney General Janet Reno, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2000, said the pool of potential leakers in any administration was extremely big.

“Almost inevitably, we find that the universe of individuals with authorized access to the disclosed information is so large as to render impracticable further efforts to identify the leaker,” Reno said.

Granted, the conceivable universe of possible leakers may number in the hundreds, but surely we have considerable reason to believe that the actual universe of leakers is limited to about a dozen senior people in the White House? I’m all for making sure that every scrap of evidence is preserved, but I hope this isn’t the start of a lame effort to drag this out and then pretend that it just wasn’t possible to do an exhaustive investigation.

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