Judge throws out Plame lawsuit
A federal judge threw out a civil lawsuit former CIA agent Valerie Plame filed against members of the Bush administration, but the dismissal does not close all Plame's legal avenues.
The court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds without ruling on the constitutional issues brought by Plame.
The wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Plame had accused Vice President Dick Cheney and others of conspiring to leak her identity in 2003. U.S. District Judge John D. Bates dismissed the case against defendants Cheney, Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Plame's name was disclosed by syndicated columnist Robert Novak in July of 2003. The lawsuit contend the exposure of her then-classified role with the CIA was meant as retaliation for a column Joseph Wilson wrote earlier that year exposing misinformation pushed by President Bush relating to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Saying the administration officials' actions "may have been highly unsavory," Bates nonetheless ruled "there can be no serious dispute" that speaking to the press to rebut Wilson's criticism was "within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials."
The court ruled it lacked jurisdiction over Plame's case because she has not exhausted administrative remedies under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which is the "proper, and exclusive, avenue for relief on such a claim."
The act provides a waiver from the government's immunity from being sued in certain situations when its employees act negligently within the context of their jobs. The lawsuit that was dismissed Thursday was aimed at individuals within the Bush administration, rather than the government itself as FTCA actions are required to be.
Plame's lawyers expected the decision to be thrown out anticipate filing an appeal, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, whose executive director is representing Joseph and Valerie Wilson. But the couple does not plan to pursue legal action under the FTCA, a CREW spokeswoman told RAW STORY.
"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," said Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director. "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."
Bates, who was appointed by President Bush, is the same judge who threw out a case regarding the release of Cheney's Energy Taskforce records, Think Progress notes.