Plame Case Ain't Over, But Don't Get Too Excited
By: Mark W Adams

Sure, she'll be appealing the ruling.  Good luck with that.

As disappointing it is to see Valerie Plame's case thrown out on procedural grounds, I wouldn't read too much into the fact that the Judge who did the deed was on Ken Starr's team and ruled in favor of Dick Cheney's energy task force a super secret.  This was good theater, a noble cause, and will continue to bring fame and fortune to all involved.

(I know that this too will make Ara scratch his head -- again, just like my take on Cheney's victory in his desire to keep his private meetings private.)

Every nation has enjoyed "Sovereign Immunity" throughout history.  The US government can only be sued for what it agrees to be sued for, and in the manner it proscribes.  In this case, a tort claim, must OF COURSE go through the Court of Claims -- and OF COURSE you have to exhaust all administrative remedies before you can file a claim -- because THEY SAY SO.

It's right there in the Federal Rules of Courts, and THEY make the rules. Who you ask?  Judges and Congress.  This one doesn't have a thing to do with the White House, or even partisanship -- at least not by the Court.

I like the Wilsons' attorney, Melanie Sloan, a great deal, and she's done spectacular work for CREW.  But she can put aside any pretense she has of being a non-partisan arbiter of ethics despite her reporting on Democratic Congressman William Jefferson's freeze-dried fishy fund raising follies.  Sorry Melanie, but taking on the Wilson's case this way was never an attempt at a judicial victory, and you know it.  It was to win in the court of public opinion, and maybe get the thing going through long enough to sit some of our favorite neo-cons down under oath before a court reporter.  Alas, the case didn't even have as much merit as the infamous Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit.

That's not how it works, and Melanie knew that from the start.  It was a tit-for-tat, similar in spirit (if not on the merits) to the witch hunt Bill Clinton endured throughout most of his term.  Wilson v. Cheney and Jones v. Clinton were both dismissed before trial, but other than that, they are fun-house mirror images of each other in why they were dismissed.

Jones allegations, if true, presented an actionable claim that did NOT have anything to do with the President's exercise of his duties as an elected official.  If they did, Clinton would have been protected from frivolous claims interfering with his official duties.  The allegations of sexual harassment were never presented as something to do with Clinton's official position -- it was personal behavior, not government action.  It was personal (if you can believe Jones' claim), not political.  The suit was a nuisance or course, in the legal and common usage of the term.  Any lawsuit interferes with someone's normal functions, but as long as the essence of the claim doesn't attack official decision making by "the Decider," Jones' case showed that they could go forward at least to the discovery phase -- to gather evidence to prove or disprove the case on the merits.

Plame's exposure was just plain wrong, and unlike Jones' allegations there is ample evidence already made public that there was indeed a conspiracy to out her for political reasons.  I am much more persuaded that Plame's claim was true than any of Paula Jones' allegations.

Nonetheless the acts Plame complains of were tied to the elected and/or appointed perpetrators' political decisions in a political setting.  The Courts are wisely loathe to second guess political decisions made by the political branches -- no matter how heinous.  Those political decisions are remedied through the political process, elections or even impeachment -- or through criminal proceedings; not through the personal injury lawsuit.

Even if the Wilsons had been permitted to conduct some discovery, like Paula Jones' case, I fail to see how they could demonstrate any actual damages.  The very fact that the White House treats absolutely everything like a political game is ironically what protects them here.  The excercise of official duties are protected under the Sovereign Immunity Doctrine.  Paula Jones never alleged that Clinton was using his powers as Chief Executive of either the USA or Arkansas (using his "Sovereign" powers) to injure her.  Plame, on the other hand, was callously deemed expendable pawn, inconsequential, an irritant to be discarded at the Sovereign's whim.  Valerie was just another soldier the Adminstration put in harm's way.

Sloan didn't apply to the proper forum, the Court of Claims, Nor did she engage in an administrative foray through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to receive one of those "Right to Sue" letters.  You "exhaust your administrative remedies" by getting the EEOC to say, in writing, they won't pursue a claim of wrongful termination because they don't "do" discrimination cases based on being a disloyal cog in the machine.  Then Sloan could present a claim in the Court of Claims that Valerie is a victim of a political vendetta, something I don't believe makes you a victim of something the US recognizes as actionable as it does discrimination on racial or sexual grounds.

And, since she wasn't actually fired, for whatever reason, it would be pretty hard for her to prove any damages -- and that's why Jones' case was dismissed too.