By MATT APUZZOPlame Lawsuit Dismissed in CIA Leak CaseFri Jul 20, 2007 00:15
Plame Lawsuit Dismissed in CIA Leak Case
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Former CIA operative Valerie Plame lost a lawsuit Thursday that demanded money from Bush administration officials whom she blamed for leaking her agency identity.
Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Vice President Dick Cheney and others of conspiring to disclose her identity in 2003. Plame said that violated her privacy rights and was illegal retribution for her husband's criticism of the administration.
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the constitutional arguments.
Bates dismissed the case against all defendants: Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
Plame's lawyers said from the beginning the suit would be a difficult case to make. Public officials normally are immune from such suits filed in connection with their jobs.
Plame's identity was revealed in a syndicated newspaper column in 2003, shortly after Wilson began criticizing the administration's march to war in Iraq.
Armitage and Rove were the sources for that article, which touched off a lengthy leak investigation. Nobody was charged with leaking but Libby was convicted of lying and obstruction the investigation. Bush commuted Libby's 2 1/2-year prison term before the former aide served any time.
"This just dragged on the character assassination that had gone on for years," said Alex Bourelly, one of Libby's lawyers. "To have the case dismissed is a big relief."
Plame and Wilson pledged to appeal.
"This case is not just about what top government officials did to Valerie and me." Wilson said in a statement. "We brought this suit because we strongly believe that politicizing intelligence ultimately serves only to undermine the security of our nation."
Though Bates said the case raised "important questions relating to the propriety of actions undertaken by our highest government officials," he said there was no legal basis for the suit.
Lawyers have said courts traditionally are reluctant to wade into these types of cases, particularly when Congress has established other resolutions.
In this case, Bates said, Congress passed the Privacy Act to cover many of Plame's claims. Courts have held that the Privacy Act cannot be used to hold government officials personally liable for damages in court.
Bates also sided with administration officials who said they were acting within their job duties. Plame had argued that what they did was illegal and outside the scope of their government jobs.
"The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr. Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavory," Bates wrote.
"But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials," Bates said.
Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said Rove was pleased to have the case behind him.
"The risk of being liable for personal damages is not something anybody takes lightly," Luskin said.
Bates, a former Whitewater prosecutor, was appointed to the bench in 2001 by Bush.
LEAKGATE: INFO AND LINKS:
[LEAKGATE] Protecting Your Sources
The Joseph and Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust
MELANIE SLOAN, LEGAL COUNSEL FOR JOE AND VALERIE WILSON, RESPONDS TO DISMISSAL OF CIVIL SUIT
Washington, DC -- Earlier today, District of Columbia District Court Judge John D. Bates dismissed Joe and Valerie Wilsons' civil suit against Vice President Dick Cheney, presidential aide Karl Rove, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Richard Armitage. While Judge Bates recognized that the Wilsons' claims "pose important questions relating to the propriety of actions undertaken by our highest government officials," he dismissed their suit on a threshold legal issue: that there is no constitutional remedy available to them.
While the Wilsons' lawyers are reviewing the decision, they anticipate filing an appeal. Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ("CREW"), one of the Wilsons' lawyers, said today, "While we are obviously very disappointed by today’s decision, we have always expected that this case would ultimately be decided by a higher court." Sloan continued, "We disagree with the court's holding and intend to pursue this case vigorously to protect all Americans from vindictive government officials who abuse their power for their own political ends."
Statement of Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, IV (ret.) To the House Committee on the Judiciary
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking member, members of the Committee,
Thank you for the invitation to appear before you at this hearing on the possible abuse of Presidential authority in the commutation of I. Lewis Libby, convicted on four counts of lying to federal investigators, perjury and obstruction of justice. I am not a lawyer, but I have understandably followed this case closely. This matter, after all, involves the betrayal of our national security, specifically the leaking of the identity of a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, my wife, Valerie Wilson, as a vicious means of political retribution.
Title 18 sec 371
TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 19 > § 371
§ 371. Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense
against the United States, or to defraud the United States,
or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and
one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object
of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the
object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the
punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum
punishment provided for such misdemeanor.
Los Angeles Times: Judge throws out Plame's lawsuit
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