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September 13, 2006

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Other Tom

The current posture of the whole thing is so lovely that I think I am going to spend my waking hours overnight crafting a dungbomb to drop on Crazy Larry's website. My aim is to cause him to froth publicly at the mouth, and I have yet to fail.

cathyf

Just a typographical note, but isn't that EvilDickCheney allOneWord?

topsecretk9

--My aim is to cause him to froth publicly at the mouth, and I have yet to fail.--

LOTS OF ALL CAPS YOU"VE BEEN GETTING, EH?

paul

Prediction:

Now that Armitage has been named in the suit, people who have never before revealed their knowledge of Plame's identity and occupation will come foward.

They have just offended the State Department for the first time, and there are a ton of ambassadors out there.

Daddy

I am depressed. Lawrence O'Donnell apparently went the whole interview without spitting on anybody or calling anybody a liar. No magic lists in his pocket, no banging the snot out of the table, no gnostic forecasts of indictments...Not even chastising someone for suggesting he might have ever drunk a beer. What is the world coming too?

lurker

Time To Investigate Valerie Wilson’s Lies To America

Little known story not listed in JOM's golden timeline.

maryrose

Lurker:
thank you for the link to an excellent article. Val and Joe are going down.

narciso

Heck, you might as well throw in David Rohn, he was the State Department analyst, who wrote the memo,
that described Plame as the WMD manager, that ran
the meeting that selected Joe Wilson.

HerbieWilkers

....just peeking in to see what's up.

Walter

I was on vacation last time this came around, but I emailed TM about a court case decided this April in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals that seems relevant.

It lays out one of the initial hurdles that Wilson/Plame would face in their suit. The decision is shorter and more cleanly written than many we have waded through recently. As usual, Howard Bashman of How Appealing is due credit for the link.

The case, CAIR v. Ballenger (warning, pdf), involves a congressman making an offhand libelous comment to a reporter while discussing his marital relations (or lack therof).

The Congressman (Ballenger, obviously) is a Republican who has run a "family values" campaign in the past. He's getting a divorce and reporters have been calling to get comment on how this will affect his campaign(s).

In the course of a conversation with a reporter, he blames CAIR for the failure of his marriage. (He and his wife viewed them as "the fundraising arm of Hezbollah". Since his house in DC was across the street from their offices, she refused to stay in DC with him & thus they drifted apart.) The reporter published his comment.

CAIR thought that Balleger's characterization was unfair, and sued him for defamation (slander reprinted as libel, for those keeping score).

Federal employees are protected from personal liability by a statute (the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988 or "Westfall Act”, 28 U.S.C. § 2679). Under the statute, lawsuits against public officials, in the performance of their official duties are treated as lawsuits against the United States itself.

Two things flow from that treatment: (1) The defendants are represented by the Department of Justice (rather than having to hire personal lawyers) and (2) the United States is subject to suit only if it has waived immunity.

The United States may not be sued for libel or slander based on the actions of its employees (28 U.S.C. § 2680(h)). (Incidentally, this statute is among those which protect Fitzgerald from liability for statements made at his press conference or in filings.)

Because congressmen are required to talk to the hometown press (in the court's words: "to say the least") to communicate with their constituents, any statements they make to reporters fall within their scope of employment.

Under the courts reasoning, the more political the nature of a comment and an employee's job, the more likely that the US, rather than the defendant would be subject to suit or liable for any damages.

Each defendant in the Wilson/Plame case was or is a government employee whose statements or actions were related (regardless of which testimony you choose to believe) at least tangentially to their work. It follows that the Department of Justice will likely move (after everyone is served) to substitute the United States as a party as they did in CAIR.

Now, that doesn't mean that the suit would necessarily fail, it just means that the miscreants (if any) would not be on the hook for defending themselves.

It's worthwhile to note that Wilson/Plame's suit is different in that the US has waived immunity for civil liability for the causes of action they allege.

Thus it's certainly possible that, as in Linda Tripp's case, there's a Privacy Act violation worth a few hundred grand. I doubt it though. (Tripp's case involved a disclosure of an item from her personnel file completely unrelated to her government duties--Plame would seem to have less privacy interest in her status as a government employee, esp. vis-à-vis other government employees.)

Also, the case was settled by Bush's Justice Department, rather than Clinton's.

Unless something else turns up, however, I can't see their 1983 civil rights claims surviving the motion to dismiss.

sbw

lurker: Time To Investigate Valerie Wilson’s Lies To America

Oops. I thought you meant that Time magazine was going to investigate... My mistake.

topsecretk9

--....just peeking in to see what's up.

Posted by: HerbieWilkers | September 14, 2006 at 08:22 AM--

HERBIE! I've missed you so much.

lurker

More on Joe Wilson's lies

And

AP Reporter Obscures Truth about “The Sixteen Words”

JM Hanes

Walter:

Don't know if you'll be checking back on this thread, but many thanks for outlining CAIR v. Ballenger. Your explanation of the U.S. subbing as defendant, which was new to me, is much appreciated. I've been switching between computers lately and am sorry I missed it earlier.

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Wilson/Plame