WASHINGTON: The former CIA operative, Valerie Plame, has lost a lawsuit that demanded money from Vice-President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials whom she blamed for leaking her secret agency identity.
Ms. Plame, wife of the former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Mr. Cheney and others of conspiring to disclose her identity in 2003. She said that violated her privacy rights and was illegal retribution for her husband’s criticism of the administration’s Iraq war policy.
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. He dismissed the case against all defendants: Mr. Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, Mr. Cheney’s former chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and the former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage.
Ms. Plame’s lawyers said from the beginning the suit would be a difficult case to make. Public officials normally are immune from such actions filed in connection with their jobs.
Ms. Plame’s identity was revealed in a syndicated newspaper column in 2003, shortly after Mr. Wilson began criticising the administration’s march to war in Iraq.
Mr. Armitage and Mr. 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 of the investigation. Ms. Plame and Mr. Wilson pledged to appeal. “This case is not just about what top government officials did to Valerie and me,” Mr. Wilson said in a statement. “We brought this suit because we strongly believe that politicising intelligence ultimately serves only to undermine the security of our nation.”
Though the judge 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, the judge said, Congress passed the Privacy Act to cover many of Ms. Plame’s claims. Courts have held that the Privacy Act cannot be used to hold officials personally liable for damages in court. — AP