Cheney Asks Judge to Toss CIA Leak Suit


Sibel Edmonds once said, "That's the beauty of it. You can start from the AIPAC angle. You can start from the Plame case. You can start from my case. They all end up going to the same place, and they revolve around the same nucleus of people. There may be a lot of them, but it is one group. And they are very dangerous for all of us." - Jon

By MATT APUZZO 11.14.06, 5:58 PM ET

Vice President Dick Cheney asked a federal judge Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit brought against him by former CIA operative who says the White House leaked her identity to the press.

Cheney's attorneys criticized the lawsuit in court papers, saying it invented constitutional rights, intruded on national security discussions and came two years after the statute of limitations had expired.

Former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson claims that she was outed as retribution for her husband's criticism of the administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent years investigating who revealed her identity to syndicated columnist Robert Novak in 2003 but nobody was charged with the leak. Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who faces trial in January on perjury and obstruction, is the only person charged in the case.

Wilson's civil lawsuit is continuing alongside Libby's criminal case. In seeking to dismiss the case, Cheney said Wilson doesn't have any grounds to bring the suit and, even if she did, the vice president is shielded from civil suits.

The suit centers on conversations between Cheney and Libby about Plame's job at the CIA.

"Plaintiffs invite the judicial branch to permit intrusive discovery into those communications and to discern which among them might be, as a matter of tort law, wrongful and which not," Cheney's attorneys wrote. "Such an inquiry cannot be squared with basic separation of powers principals."

In the criminal case on Tuesday, Libby's attorneys dismissed the idea of a White House plot. They noted that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has admitted being Novak's source and was never charged.

"It is doubtful that anyone committed an 'underlying crime' here," Libby's lawyers wrote. "The government's investigation began as an effort to discover which government officials had 'leaked' Ms. Wilson's affiliation with the CIA to Mr. Novak. After years of overheated media speculation that Ms. Wilson's identity had been publicly revealed as part of a White House plot to wreak revenge on her husband, Mr. Armitage (who was no White House ally) finally confirmed in August 2006 that he was Mr. Novak's primary source."

Fitzgerald wants to keep most of that story out of Libby's trial in January. But in court documents filed Tuesday, defense attorneys said they have a right to argue that Libby doesn't believe he did anything wrong.

Libby's attorneys said Fitzgerald has perpetuated the notion that Libby was the source and said the former aide should be allowed to tell jurors that he was not - and thus had no reason to lie to the FBI or grand jury.

"Members of the jury will have heard for years that Mr. Libby leaked classified information about Valerie Wilson's affiliation with the CIA, due to inaccurate reports in the press," defense attorneys wrote. "Indeed, the government has contributed to the likely misimpressions that potential jurors will have about this case."

Fitzgerald has not specifically commented on that allegation. In court papers, he has argued that the upcoming trial should not be a forum to debate the leak itself or question why Libby was charged and others weren't.

Cheney, Libby ask dismissal of civil complaint
Pair accused of conspiring to destroy the career of CIA employee


By Joel Seidman
Updated: 6:33 p.m. CT Nov 14, 2006

WASHINGTON - Lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney and his indicted former chief of staff, I Lewis "Scooter" Libby - who is awaiting trial on separate criminal charges of perjury and obstruction - have filed motions in federal court asking a judge to dismiss a civil complaint against them filed by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, former CIA employee Valerie Plame.

Vice President Cheney's attorneys argue that the suit should be dismissed on various grounds including that, "the Vice President is entitled to qualified immunity," and that Cheney is "absolutely immune from suits for civil damages."

The lawyers for the Vice President also write that the civil action by the Wilson's exceeds the two-year statute of limitations for such filings.

In July, the Wilson's filed a civil suit against the Vice President, Libby and presidential adviser Karl Rove. Later they added former State Department official Richard Armitage, who last summer admitted to disclosing Plame's name "inadvertently" to syndicated columnist Robert Novak.

The Wilson's accused them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy Plame's career at the CIA. They said in their court filings that Cheney, Rove and Libby, leaked her CIA status to reporters to punish Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's use of pre-war intelligence on Iraq in a New York Times op-ed piece.

Cheney's attorneys write, the Wilson's "have not pled that the Vice President ever made any public disclosure of Mrs. Wilson's alleged CIA employment status. The sole pertinent factual allegation is that the Vice President communicated the fact of her CIA employment to his national security advisor and chief of staff."

The Vice President's attorneys also write, "Plaintiffs invite the judicial branch to permit intrusive discovery into those communications and to discern which among them might be, as a matter of tort law, wrongful and which not." Cheney's attorneys say, " Such an inquiry cannot be squared with basic separation of powers principals."

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has spent nearly three-year years investigating who revealed Plame's identity to Novak in 2003 but nobody was ever charged with the leak.