From Holden:

You know, people choose their own destiny to a certain extent. No one is forced to work for Karl Rove or the Bush Assministration. When they do choose to associate themselves with this kind of political scum and wind up with their titties caught in the wringer I can’t bring myself to find any pity for them.

Not so, the Washington Post.

The latest White House staffer to face the grand jury is Susan B. Ralston, assistant to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who gave testimony to the committee investigating the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

But while the politics of every appearance is picked over in minute detail, there is also a human story to each summons that often goes unexplored.

Witnesses face stress, uncertainty and — worst of all — crippling lawyer’s fees that can take years to pay off. And as prosecutors cast their net ever wider, inexperienced staffers with few financial assets are increasingly facing the emotional and financial burden of grand jury testimony.

Ralston appeared at the end of July on the same day as former Rove aide Israel “Izzy” Hernandez, according to ABC News. The reason Ralston, 37, was asked to testify remains unclear, but it has heightened suspicions that the locus of the investigation still centers on Rove.


“It was an incredibly callous and demoralizing experience, one in which they gave no thought to the personal or financial ramifications,” said Neel Lattimore, former press secretary to first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was subpoenaed about 10 times during his tenure on the job. “Nothing prepares you for what it’s like.”

Another former Clinton administration official who is now in the private sector and did not want to be identified agreed. “It paralyzes you from doing your job. It turns your life upside down. I sat outside one grand jury room where I could hear the prosecutors screaming — I’m not kidding — screaming at a colleague of mine who was a witness.”

The two former Clinton aides said that the financial burden was crippling. Like many others, these White House officials had to pay their own legal bills, and these can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some may qualify for a partial reimbursement from the Justice Department, but this usually covers a fraction of the outlay and can take as long as seven years to be paid out. White House aides are even barred from receiving free legal assistance.


According to a White House report to Congress, Ralston’s salary last year was $67,600. In an interview last September with Asian Week, she said that she took a “significant pay cut” in 2001 from her job working with a prominent lobbyist.