Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fact-checking Market Watch’s Plame suit dismissal report

On Aug. 12 @ 3 PM ET Market Watch is hosting the following report which I plan to fact-check

WASHINGTON, Aug 12, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Today, in a split decision, Chief Judge David Sentelle, writing for the majority of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Joe and Valerie Wilson's civil suit against Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Richard Armitage. The court agreed with the opinion of District Court Judge John Bates that top White House officials cannot be sued for deliberately leaking the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Wilson to retaliate against Joe Wilson for publishing an op-ed that undermined the Bush administration's rationale for going to war with Iraq. The court of appeals found that the only remedy available to the Wilsons is the Privacy Act, even though it does not apply to White House officials. Judge Judith Rogers dissented, finding that a constitutional remedy should be available when there is no other alternative. (emphasis added)

Melanie Sloan, counsel to the Wilsons, said "we are disappointed with today's ruling and are considering all of our appellate options. It is simply unacceptable for top government officials to be unaccountable for such a gross abuse of their power. Here, not only did these officials cause untold harm to two individuals who honorably served their country, they also jeopardized our national security for short term political gain. Courts must be available to remedy precisely this kind of harm to ensure such conduct is neither condoned nor repeated."

The opinion can be found on CREW's website.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Naomi Seligman at 202.408.5565/nseligman@citizensforethics.org.

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To: Naomi Seligman
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Re: CREW’s Business Wire report at Market Watch concerning the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ dismissal of Joe and Valerie Wilson's civil suit.

I blog as John in Carolina and post often on media bias.

You say the appellate “court agreed with the opinion of District Court Judge John Bates that top White House officials cannot be sued for deliberately leaking the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Wilson to retaliate against Joe Wilson for publishing an op-ed that undermined the Bush administration's rationale for going to war with Iraq.”

The White House didn’t leak Valerie Plame Wilson’s name to the press.

The leaker was Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Do you know of any credible source that’s accused Armitage of leaking Valerie Wilson’s identity at the behest of anyone at the White House?

Valerie Wilson was not a “covert CIA operative” at the time Armitage outed her; and the CIA has never said she was.

I don’t see in Judge Bates’ opinion or the appellate court’s opinion any finding that any government official “deliberately leak[ed] the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Wilson to retaliate against Joe Wilson for publishing an op-ed.”

If Judge Bates or the appellate court made such a finding, please cite it.

I’ll publish your response in full at my blog.

Thank you for your attention to my queries.

Sincerely,

John in Carolina

6 comments:

Louis said...

John you may be overreacting, the opinion of the Court of Appeals is based on the pleadings. At that stage the allegations of the complaint are taken as true. The Court essentially said even if the wild allegations of the complaint are true, the plaintiff still loses. The case never got to the fact finding stage.

JWM said...

Louis,

Thanks for your comment.

One concern I have is that CREW overstated/misreported what the court has done. But that doesn't put me in a position of disagreeing with what you've just said.

CREW is IMO more an "advocacy" group than a "news organization."

But what looks a lot like a press release winds up at Market Watch which touts itself as presenting news.

Depending on how Seligman responds, MW is where I may go next.

I was glad to get your comment.

Please stay in touch.

John

Anonymous said...

John -

You are absolutely correct. The White House had nothing to do with 'leaking' Valerie Plame's identity. There are two questions that remain. Why wasn't Patrick Fitzgerald reined in by Ashcroft who knew the truth (and after it was revealed that Fitzgerald knew it was Armitage but proceeded to turn the White House upside down anyway, why wasn't Fitzgerald reassigned to Nome Alaska)? The second question is why weren't Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, investigated for conspiring to conceal Iraq's attempt to get yellow-cake from Niger?

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

IMHO, the Bush administration has been absolutely disastrous in its inability to counter the lies and misstatements that have been made by the Plame gang. Jack in Silver Spring has it correct: John Ashcroft should have reined in Fitzgerald when it became obvious that he was not the least bit interested in prosecuting the person responsible for the leak (Richard Armitage--an enemy of the Bushies), and, more importantly, never made clear that Plame was not a covert agent in the sense of the federal law cited as the rationale for the special prosecutor's investigation. Bottom line: when the GOP has a firing squad, they generally form into a circle. They are their own worst enemy.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

Again, we have an example of a case where the metanarrative cannot get into the way of the facts. What has been lost in all of this from the beginning is that Joe Wilson claimed that he was sent by the Vice-president to Nigeria (this Wilson stated in an op-ed article he wrote which appeared in The NY Times) which was absolutely false. Wilson and his wife were gad about types in the DC social circuit. Both were upset that their careers had not brought them the monetary and political recognition that they though that they deserved as "bright young things". Richard Armitage, who is about as scurrilous a person as there is, sat on the sidelines during the entire investigation more than happy to see people in the administration squirm under the Javert policies of Fitzpatrick which were in turn trumpeted by those in the press who wanted to get Karl Rove at any cost.
While I wish that JinC will get a response from CREW and Market Watch and that they will corrrect their misstatements - I will be greatly surprised if that happens.
cks

Anonymous said...

Do you all drink the same Kool-Aid? Crazy conspiracy theorists....