Today, the D.C. Court of Appeals dismissed Valerie Plame’s lawsuit against members of the Bush administration for leaking her covert CIA status in 2003. Plame had hoped that the appeals court would overturn the ruling of U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, who had initially rejected her case. Today, the appeals court agreed with Bates, ruling that Vice President Cheney and others were acting within their official capacities:
Government employees who engage in questionable acts, such as abusing prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay facility or engaging in defamatory speech, cannot be held individually liable if they are carrying out official duties, the court said.
“The conduct, then, was in the defendants’ scope of employment regardless of whether it was unlawful or contrary to the national security of the United States,” Appeals Court Chief Judge David Sentelle wrote in the opinion.
Plame’s lawyer, Melanie Sloan, is not sure what the next steps for the case will be, but is investigating another appeal. If an appeal doesn’t happen, however, the White House will be forced to start publicly commenting on its role in the Plame leak. For years, officials have been stonewalling, citing the various ongoing investigations:
– “I know that there’s going to be a lot of disappointment with this, but there is an ongoing criminal proceeding. … And so our principled stand of not commenting on ongoing legal investigations is going to continue.” [White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, 3/6/07]
— “I did talk to our counsel’s office because I forgot that there is a civil case that is pending on this issue. I did forget. The Wilsons have filed a case in civil court, it was dismissed, and they are on appeal.” [Perino, 12/12/07]
What will be the White House’s excuse once there are no more cases pending?