MORE VALERIE PLAME SPECULATION….Here’s a bit more on the broadening investigation into the Valerie Plame affair that I blogged about last night. (Yes, I know the timestamp says April 2, but it was really the evening of April 1 here in California. Honest.)

Josh Marshall points out that it’s not entirely clear whether the investigation has actually “broadened” or merely changed focus:

The key revelation, which comes in the first graf, is that investigators have “expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case.”

….Unfortunately, the piece doesn’t make clear whether these might be indictments in addition to ones tied to underlying crime or whether the prosecutors are going for this because they can’t make a case on that underlying bad act.

That’s a good point. This might be like indicting Al Capone for tax evasion: they’re only pursuing this because they can’t get enough evidence to convict their targets of the real crime.

But here’s another possibility. A couple of months ago UPI’s Richard Sale wrote a piece suggesting that the FBI’s strategy in this case was to get someone to rat out their boss:

“We believe that [John] Hannah was the major player in this,” one federal law-enforcement officer said….The strategy of the FBI is to make clear to Hannah “that he faces a real possibility of doing jail time” as a way to pressure him to name superiors, one federal law-enforcement official said.

I wonder if that’s what’s going on here? In order to convince someone that there’s “a real possibility of doing jail time” they need to make prosecution a credible threat, and maybe they figure their best shot is to find some inconsistencies somewhere and then threaten their target with prosecution for lying to a federal official. Post-Martha, this may seem like a credible threat indeed.

I guess we’re about to find out just what Dick Cheney’s staff has in the way of cojones. So far (apparently) no one has rolled. But how high has the heat been turned up?