July 13, 2006

Plame sues Cheney, Rove in leak case

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former CIA operative Valerie Plame
and her husband sued Vice President Dick Cheney, top White
House aide Karl Rove and others on Thursday for their role in
disclosing her classified CIA employment.

The lawsuit alleged "a conspiracy among current and former
high-level officials in the White House" to "discredit, punish
and seek revenge" against Plame's husband, former Ambassador
Joseph Wilson, for publicly disputing statements made by Bush
justifying the war in Iraq.

The suit was the latest twist in a long-running saga over
the public exposure of Plame that put President Bush on the
defensive over his campaign to justify the war and reached into
the highest levels of the White House.

The lawsuit comes at a time when Rove, Bush's top political
aide, seeks to keep Congress in Republican hands in November
elections. Rove learned last month he would not face criminal
charges in the CIA leak investigation.

Plame and Wilson's suit said the couple suffered violations
of their constitutional and legal rights, including an invasion
of their privacy, and that the disclosure of her name destroyed
her CIA career.

The suit said the couple fear for their safety and that of
their children because disclosure of Plame's covert identity
made the family a potential target for people or groups hostile
to the United States or its intelligence officers.

The CIA-leak case flared after Wilson accused the
administration of leaking his wife's name to punish him for
writing in the New York Times that the Bush administration
twisted intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in
the run-up to the war launched by Washington in 2003.

An investigation led to the indictment of a top Cheney
aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, last year on charges of
obstruction of justice and perjury. He is the only person
charged in the case.


The 23-page lawsuit said the defendants "embarked on an
anonymous 'whispering campaign' designed to discredit and
injure the plaintiffs and to deter other critics from publicly
speaking out."

"This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious
exposure by senior officials of the federal government of one
such human source at the CIA, Valerie Plame Wilson, whose job
it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer and who
risked her life for her country," the suit said.

The suit also named Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff,
and 10 unnamed senior government officials or political

While no specific dollar amount is requested, the lawsuit
sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and
attorneys' fees and costs.

Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride had no comment on the
lawsuit. "This relates to a matter already before the courts,
so our policy is not to comment on a matter in litigation," she

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove's legal team, said, "It
is clear that the allegations are absolutely and utterly
without merit."

Plame's name was disclosed in the news media by
conservative columnist Robert Novak in July 2003.

The long-anticipated lawsuit came a day after Novak said
Rove and former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow had confirmed what
one other unnamed administration official told him about Plame.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said, "It
is unfortunate that it looks like it will take a criminal
investigation and now a civil suit to expose all those who
harmed Valerie Plame." (additional reporting by Deborah