Leak argument: No secrets in Bonds investigation

Barry Bonds reportedly is about to be indicted, so how is it Major League Baseball already has "inside information"?

Updated: July 12, 2006, 3:06 PM ET
By Roger Cossack | ESPN.com

Barry Bonds is about to be indicted, perhaps as early as next week, according to a report in Tuesday's New York Daily News. The term of the grand jury that is hearing evidence regarding Bonds ends in a few weeks and if the prosecutor does not ask them to indict, he will have to wait for another grand jury and put on all his evidence again.

This development is not surprising if you consider that not long ago Jason Grimsley went public with his claim that the lead agent in the Bonds case wanted him to wear a wire and gather evidence against Bonds, and that just last week Greg Anderson went to jail rather than testify against Bonds.

As Bob Dylan sang, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

What is surprising is MLB's response: The Daily News report said "several senior MLB sources" expect an indictment of Bonds, all the while claiming that they "have no inside information."

So, without inside info, how do they know what's going to happen?

This matter has been either the high water or low water mark for leaks of secret grand jury information. San Francisco Chronicle reporters using leaked grand jury testimony wrote a book about the Bonds case. Apparently these leaks have not been plugged.

There is only one way that MLB knows what the grand jury intends to do and when: Someone told them, and the informant has to be from either the prosecutor's office or Bonds' attorney. It would not be in the best interest of Bonds' attorney to spill on his client, so guess who that leaves?

There are several former federal prosecutors on the Mitchell committee investigating steroid use in baseball. The Mitchell committee reports to the commissioner's office, and it is not a stretch to envision a certain chumminess between former and current prosecutors where either knowingly or unknowingly they have passed along grand jury information.

I have written in the past that I do not believe that reporters should be forced to divulge their sources. That does not mean that I believe that grand jury proceedings should not be secret. The reason for the secrecy is to protect innocent people from having their names made public before any charges are filed.

That is exactly where we are with Bonds. He might be indicted, but he hasn't been yet. MLB should not know any more about the criminal matter of Barry Bonds and the grand jury than any baseball fan.

So MLB, please tell us: Why do you expect an indictment of Bonds ... and who told you?

Roger Cossack is ESPN's legal analyst.

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