ABC News tells us that Joe and Valerie Wilson have filed a civil suit against Cheney, Libby, Rove, and others in the Bush Administration over the Plame leak:
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.
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.
Joe Wilson had hinted at this lawsuit when we learned that Rove would not be indicted, and I had been adamant that this lawsuit would not happen - my bad.
[Where did I go wrong? Good question - I had this:
Joe Wilson can remain a hero to his audience for years to come simply by threatening to bring this suit... someday.
However, I see that they filed because there is a three year statute of limitations on some of their causes of action. How about that? And we don't want to fail to promote Valerie's new book deal:
Former CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose outing led to the indictment of a White House official, has agreed to write her memoirs for Simon & Schuster, weeks after a reported seven-figure deal with the Crown Publishing Group fell through.]
Well - I stand by my position that the plaintiffs will have huge problems gathering (presumably classified) evidence and recreating secret grand jury testimony, not to mention establishing damages and demonstrating that the defendants were not simply acting in their capacity as public officials. And a number of commenters focused on the problems the Wilson's might face as they dealt with defense discovery requests (Mark Levin can't wait).
But this lawsuit will certainly help keep Joe's star ascendant in the lefty firmament, so there is some clear motivation.
MORE: THE CRITICAL, MISSING LINK - did the defendants even know Ms. Plame's status was classified?
From the civil suit (at Smoking Gun), p. 16:
34. On information and velief, the principal means of punishing Mr. Wilson for his public statements, both oral and written, was to disclose to selected reporters the classified CIA identity of his wife, Plaintiff Valerie Wilson... An integral part of their scheme was the identification of Mrs. Wilson as a classified CIA employee.
That would be a bit more convincing if there was evidence showing that Libby or the others knew that Ms. Plame's status had been classified. None of the reporters who were leaked upon were told that her status was classified (we deal with Novak's use of "operative" here).
And per court filings the defense tells us (see "MORE") that Libby "testified to the grand jury unequivocally that he did not understand Ms. Wilson’s employment by the CIA to be classified information." If Special Counsel Fitzgerald had evidence to contradict that, that would have made a substantial perjury charge; no such charge appears in the indictment.
However, Fitzgerald did say this in explaining (in Aug 2004) the potential significance of Judy Miller's testimony:
To date, we have no direct evidence that Libby knew or believed that Wilson's wife was engaged in covert work.
Nor did he get that evidence from Ms. Miller.
Did Dick Cheney know whether Ms. Plame was covert? Murray Waas took us to this dead end:
Cheney told investigators that he had learned of Plame's employment by the CIA and her potential role in her husband being sent to Niger by then-CIA director George Tenet, according to people familiar with Cheney's interviews with the special prosecutor.
Tenet has told investigators that he had no specific recollection of discussing Plame or her role in her husband's trip with Cheney, according to people with familiar with his statement to investigators.
I'm sure Mr. Tenet remembers getting a Medal of Freedom. Regardless, it does not appear that Fitzgerald was able to conclude, after a two year investigation, that Libby knew Ms. Plame had classified status. It's hard to believe that in a civil suit, the Wilson's will have more luck.
CAUSE OF ACTION: I see a problem in the fifth and sixth causes of action - here is point 61 (essentially repeated at 67):
Pursuant to, and in furtherance of, this common scheme, defendants Rove and Libby unlawfully disclosed to members of the press Plaintiff Valerie Wilson's classified CIA employment.
Riddle me this - if they acted "unlawfully", what law did they break? And don't tell me, tell Fitzgerald, because he forgot to charge them.
A VERY WEAK CASE: Stephen Spruiell catches lefty Lawrence O'Donnell with a pin for each Olbermann balloon.
A QUESTION: Can the Wilsons "file and forget" this suit, or do they actually have to start deposing witnesses and doing legal stuff? I ask because thay may have filed it just to beat the statute of limitations clock, rather than with any real hope of moving forward.
CAN'T BOTH BE RIGHT? Is there a lefty blogger worried about a Wilson lawsuit misfiring? A righty blogger not gleeful? One side is very wrong here. (It's the other side...)