Plame Civil Suit Update

They’re not through with you yet, Bushies:

[California attorney Joseph Cotchett] plans to use a legal precedent that allowed President Bill Clinton to be sued while in office to force Vice President Dick Cheney and presidential adviser Karl Rove to testify in a lawsuit brought by former CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband.

…Cotchett, who took over as trial counsel in Plame's case on Tuesday, said legal precedent for whether Cheney and the others could claim legal immunity in the case comes, in part, from Paula Jones' sexual harassment case against Clinton.

In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a unanimous ruling that neither Clinton "or any other official has an immunity that extends beyond the scope of any action taken in an official capacity."

In order to be dismissed from the case or avoid testifying, Cotchett said, lawyers for Cheney and the other men would have to argue that they were acting on government business if they are found to have leaked Plame's name to the media.
Ooh, tricky. Since outing a covert agent is a federal crime, it’s going to be tough to claim inherent official capacity. Sounds like, if Cotchett’s right, they’d have to argue instead that they were acting on the orders of higher-ups. If Libby finally sells out Cheney, the only place Cheney has to go is Bush. Failing ratting out up the chain of command, these blokes are going to have to testify.

Unless, of course, the current SCOTUS steps in to undermine the ’97 decision, which wouldn’t exactly be surprising.

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