Valerie Plame’s Lawsuit Dismissed
Valerie Plame’s civil suit against Dick Cheney and others has been thrown out. AP’s Matt Apuzzo:
A federal judge on Thursday dismissed former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s lawsuit against members of the Bush administration in the CIA leak scandal. Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Vice President Dick Cheney and others of conspiring to leak 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 attorneys had said the lawsuit would be an uphill battle. Public officials are normally immune from such lawsuits filed in connection with their jobs.
No surprise here. Allowing private suits against public officials for harm caused by official acts would open a Pandora’s box.
This is purely a technicality, not a ruling on the merits, so Bates’ ruling sheds no light on Plame’s claims.
UPDATE: WaPo’s Carol Leonnig has more:
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said that Cheney and White House aides cannot be held liable for the disclosure of information about Plame in the summer of 2003 while they were trying to rebut criticism of the administration’s war efforts levied by her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The judge said such efforts were certainly part of the officials’ scope of normal duties.
Bates also ruled that the court lacked the power to award damages for public disclosure of private information about Plame. The judge said that was because Plame and Wilson had failed to exhaust other remedies in seeking compensation from appropriate federal agencies for the alleged privacy violations.
The text of Bates’ ruling is here. The key ‘graphs:
Defendants’ motions, however, raise issues that the Court is obliged to address before it can consider the merits of plaintiffs’ claims. As it turns out, the Court will not reach, and therefore expresses no views on, the merits of the constitutional and other tort claims asserted by plaintiffs based on defendants’ alleged disclosures because the motions to dismiss will be granted.
For the reasons explained below, the Court finds that, under controlling Supreme Court precedent, special factors — particularly the remedial scheme established by Congress in the Privacy Act — counsel against the recognition of an implied damages remedy for plaintiffs’ constitutional claims. The Court also finds that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the tort claim because plaintiffs have not exhausted their administrative remedies under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which is the proper, and exclusive, avenue for relief on such a claim.