22nd June 2006
Going over the AP wire last night, I came across this: Feds say Chronicle reporters’ needed to solve Bonds leak case
In David Kravets’ report he writes:
The Bush administration urged a federal judge here Wednesday to force two San Francisco Chronicle reporters to divulge who leaked them secret grand jury testimony of Barry Bonds and other athletes who took part in the government’s BALCO probe.
Noting that it is a crime to leak grand jury materials to the media, “there is no reporter’s privilege in criminal cases, under the First Amendment or under common law,” federal prosecutors Brian Hershman and Michael Raphael wrote in a 51-page brief.
Maybe the Feds should be looking at someone besides Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, the authors of Game of Shadows… maybe not.
Well, here’s the 51 page brief (PDF) in a redacted version that Hershman and Raphael filed. For the uninitiated, a redacted version means that sensitive comments have been blacked out.
There’s a slight problem… Anyone with Microsoft Word can read the redacted sections simply by doing a copy>paste out of the PDF into Word. Yep… it’s all there to see.
So, the question some may ask is why are the Feds putting the pressure on Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada when I see this in the redacted sections, if they are interested in Bonds related material:
During a question and answer session at a Berkeley, California book store in connection with the release of the Movants’ book, Game of Shadows, Fainaru-Wada identified Conte as a “tempestuous source” and described his “love-hate relationship” with Conte.
Reading further, Conte is liberally addressed throughout the brief. There are references to a number of email correspondences that point directly to Conte. For example:
On June 20, 2004, Fainaru-Wada sent an e-mail to Conte inquiring about
documents in Conte’s possession. Fainaru-Wada wrote:
So I checked my mail yesterday and I’m still waiting for that CD-Rom. Figured
you were gonna Fed-ex it to me. Perhaps it will arrive tomorrow. Or the next day.
Or the next. Or the next . . . OK, won’t hold my breath. . . . [F]rankly, I’m
somewhat reticent to be terribly overt on the e-mail front. I know I said the other
day half-jokingly that I’ve become a bit paranoid re: e-mails, but I actually am
wary. . . . Anyway, all that is a preface to see if there’s a chance we can actually
have a conversation on the phone at some point in the near future. Just a thought.
(Ex. S to Hershman Decl.). In response, Conte commented that he shared Fainaru-
Wada’s concerns about e-mail but believed the phone was just as bad as the “feds” may
have tapped his phone. (Id.).
On June 21, 2004 — three days before the Chronicle, in a story by Movants,
published substantial portions of Montgomery’s grand jury transcript — Fainaru-Wada
made another attempt to obtain documents in Conte’s possession. Fainaru-Wada wrote:
Well, maybe there’s another way of some sort to communicate; either pay phone or
cell or even meeting that would provide more comfort. Frankly, I wanted to make
a pitch about seeing some stuff and talking about a few things . . . . As to our email
exchanges, well, the only way they end up in our paper is if/when you give
me the green light. As with the CD-Rom, waiting, waiting, waiting . . . .
On June 23, 2004, Fainaru-Wada sent an e-mail to Conte indicating that he
(Fainaru-Wada) was busy working on some stories that may be “up on the web soon.
Hope you like them.” (Ex. T to Hershman Decl.). Conte responded that he was looking
forward to seeing the article and that his lawyer would be available for comment. (Id.).
The question is, why not go directly after Conte? Why are Williams and Fainaru-Wada being targeted? It seems more than obvious that the Feds have enough information to go after the source of the Bonds related leak, not those that are reporting on it. They are not “needed to solve the Bonds leak case”
After all, it’s against the law to leak Grand Jury testimony, not write a book about it.
UPDATE: Upon further review of this…
It seems that Conte is one of the sources, but there certainly could be more. At the very least, Conte may be at the center of all the Bonds related access. But, there are concerns about verbatim Grand Jury leaks that Conte may not have had access to. No, I didn’t get a call from DoJ, but it may be that this is what the Feds are directing their efforts toward in pressuring Williams and Fainaru-Wada to release the source of that information. After all, Conte would be hard pressed to release sealed transcripts from the Grand Jury.