Valerie Plame is suing Cheney, Rove and others, asking for money, but no doubt mostly fighting to bring the full truth of this scandal into the public light: Without a doubt, this is exciting stuff; but at the risk of being seen as a party pooper, I have to say I have some big concerns as to how successful they’re going to be.
First, here’s what’s happening:
The CIA officer whose identity was leaked to reporters sued Vice President Dick Cheney, his former top aide and presidential adviser Karl Rove on Thursday, accusing them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy her career.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, accused Cheney, Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby of revealing Plame’s CIA identity in seeking revenge against Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration’s motives in Iraq.
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The lawsuit accuses Cheney, Libby, Rove and 10 unnamed administration officials or political operatives of putting the Wilsons and their children’s lives at risk by exposing Plame.
“This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of … (Plame), whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer and who risked her life for her country,” the Wilsons’ lawyers said in the lawsuit.
Specifically, the lawsuit accuses the White House officials of violating the Wilsons’ constitutional rights to equal protection and freedom of speech. It also accuses the officials of violating the couple’s privacy rights.
So what is this fly in the ointment I’m so worried about? You may remember a story from a couple of months back about a German citizen whose lawsuit against the CIA, alleging wrongful imprisonment and brutal mistreatment, was thrown out of court based upon a finding that proceeding forward with the case posed a grave risk of damaging the national security by exposing government secrets.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the federal government (remember who runs it) raising a similar issue in this case.
It would be a hell of a stretch, especially given the administration’s contention that Plame really wasn’t involved in anything all that sensitive anyway. But I doubt they let that stop them. Instead, they’ll probably argue that the risk of exposing national security secrets lies not so much at Plame’s end, but in the degree to which discovery in the case would inevitably lead to disclosure of conversations involving national security issues within the White House.
At the same time, you can bet that the defendants will file motions asking to stay the suit until after Bush gets out of office. They probably won’t win in the end, but it will buy them some time.
Expect a bunch of other motions as well; win or lose they’ll serve their purpose.
Because that’s going to be their game now — stall, stall and then stall some more. Stall with all their hearts; stall with all their souls; stall with all their power. Stall until it doesn’t much matter anymore.
And as much as I hate being a cynic, I wouldn’t bet against them.