Plame Can’t Sue Gov’t. Officials Who Allegedly Outed Her as US Spy
Posted Aug 12, 2008 11:29 AM CDT
By Martha Neil
Because high-level government figures were acting within their official capacity when they allegedly revealed to reporters that Valerie Plame had spied for the U.S., she and her husband can't sue them for damages, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. has ruled.
"The conduct ... was in the defendants' scope of employment regardless of whether it was unlawful or contrary to the national security of the United States," writes Chief Judge David Sentelle in a U.S. Court of Appeals opinion (PDF) released today. The D.C. Circuit ruling upheld an earlier dismissal of the case by a federal district court last year, notes the Associated Press.
Plame and her husband, Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson, had named Vice President Dick Cheney, his former top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former White House aide Karl Rove and Richard Armitage, who formerly worked for the U.S. Department of State, as defendants in a lawsuit seeking damages for alleged violations of their constitutional rights to free speech, due process and privacy, Reuters reported.
"Armitage was the original source for a 2003 newspaper column identifying Plame as a CIA officer. At the time, her husband was criticizing the Bush administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq and had become a thorn in the side of the White House. Rove also discussed Plame's employment with reporters," recounts AP.
In a related criminal case, Libby was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice after jurors found that he told reporters about Plame then lied to the FBI and a federal grand jury about what he had said. President George W. Bush commuted his 2½-year prison sentence before he served any of the time.
Plame can appeal the dismissal of her lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court, and her lawyer tells Reuters that she is thinking about doing so.
CNN (July 2007): "Judge tosses out ex-spy's lawsuit against Cheney in CIA leak case"
ABAJournal.com: "Scooter Libby Loses Law License"
ABAJournal.com: "President Bush Asserts Executive Privilege in CIA Leak Case"