Second Circuit rules CIA did not infringe ex-agent Plame's free speech rights

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] did not violate the free speech rights of former agent Valerie Plame [JURIST news archive] when it prevented her from revealing certain classified information in her recently published memoir. Specifically, Plame and her publisher Simon & Schuster [corporate website] alleged that the CIA infringed her right to free speech by preventing her from discussing information about her employment with the CIA prior to 2002. Plame put forth two theories in the suit: first that the CIA had already disclosed the dates of her pre-2002 employment, and, second, that the dates of her pre-2002 employment are so widely known following the controversy surrounding the disclosure of her identity that the CIA's insistence on keeping that information classified is unreasonable. The court rejected both theories, finding that Plame was the individual responsible for the release of the employment dates, and that classified information, though publicly available, is still classified:


As noted, when Ms. Wilson elected to serve with the CIA, she accepted a life-long restriction on her ability to disclose classified and classifiable information. That Ms. Wilson's service may have been cut short by the failure of others to respect the classified status of her employment may well have warranted investigation. But these circumstances do not absolve Ms. Wilson of her own secrecy obligations.

Neither Simon & Schuster nor Plame released statements following the court's ruling. Plame's memoir, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House was published in 2007.

Last month, a federal judge ordered [JURIST report] the Department of Justice to release documents related to an interview regarding the leak with former vice president Dick Cheney. A jury previously convicted [JURIST report] Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby [JURIST news archive] of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation into the leak of Plame's identity. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit later disbarred [JURIST report] Libby because of his conviction. In July 2007, a federal judge dismissed [JURIST report] a lawsuit brought by Plame against members of the Bush administration, finding lack of jurisdiction over tort law claims.

 

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