Judge Dismisses Plame Lawsuit Against Government Officials

Plame charged in the lawsuit that Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage conspired to release her name to reporters in 2003.

U.S. District Judge John Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the constitutional arguments, reported the Associated Press.

Public officials are usually immune from such lawsuits filed in connection with their jobs.

Plame’s lawyer said she would appeal, according to Reuters.

“While we are obviously very disappointed by today’s decision, we have always expected that this case would ultimately be decided by a higher court,” lawyer Melanie Sloan said in a statement.

The identity of Plame, wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was published in a syndicated newspaper column written by Robert Novak in 2003, shortly after Wilson began criticizing the administration’s push to invade Iraq.

The couple said Plame’s name was released as retribution and that their constitutional free speech, due process and privacy rights were violated.

Bates wrote in his decision that the way the defendants chose to rebut Wilson’s comments may have been “highly unsavory,” but “there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism … by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants’ duties.”

Armitage and Rove were the sources for the article, which launched a nearly two-year investigation into the leak.

No one was charged with leaking Plame’s name, but Libby was convicted of lying and obstructing the investigation. President Bush commuted Libby’s two-and-a-half-year prison term but left in place his two years of probation and $250,000 fine.

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