Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame have filed a civil suit against Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Scooter Libby.
The lawsuit accuses Cheney, Libby, Rove and 10 unnamed administration officials or political operatives of putting the Wilsons and their children’s lives at risk by exposing Plame.
“This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of … (Plame), whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer and who risked her life for her country,” the Wilsons’ lawyers said in the lawsuit.
Specifically, the lawsuit accuses the White House officials of violating the Wilsons’ constitutional rights to equal protection and freedom of speech. It also accuses the officials of violating the couple’s privacy rights.
Of course the righties will heap scorn and mockery upon the Wilsons, accusing them of being publicity hounds or just being a nuisance, bent on preventing the president — who is never wrong — and the vice president from doing everything they can to fight the war on evil-doers.
I have two words for the righties: Paula Jones.
Ms. Jones sued Bill Clinton while he was president for sexual harassment that allegedly occurred when he was the governor of Arkansas. The righties lined up behind her and urged her to sue the president, paid her legal fees, got her a complete make-over, press agent, book deal, and fought all the way to the Supreme Court to ensure that a sitting president could be sued. They proclaimed it a great victory for the rule of law when the Supreme Court allowed the suit to go forward.
Oh, righties were ever so serious about ensuring that a lowly citizen like Ms. Jones had the right to have her day in court and seek redress for the grievous wrong done to her. It would prove that no man is above the law and, most importantly, it would prove that even the president is accountable for his actions. The fact that the alleged incident happened before Mr. Clinton was elected president apparently had no bearing on the case; Ms. Jones’s complaint was so urgent that her backers insisted it be dealt with immediately. So thanks to the righties, including one eager lawyer named Ann Coulter, the suit went forward until it was finally tossed as groundless; the judge ruled that Ms. Jones couldn’t prove any damages. Ms. Jones later settled out of court for $850,000.
The righties will say the Wilson/Plame case is different than the Jones case. Yes, it is. Rove, Cheney, and Libby conspired to discredit the Wilsons by leaking classified information to the press in retribution for Mr. Wilson embarrassing the White House. They did this in the course of their duties in the Bush administration, not while they were private citizens, and allegedly at the direction of the president himself. To be fair, there is no record of any of the respondents in the Wilson/Plame case having made sexual overtures (crude or otherwise) to the plaintiffs.
Whether or not the Wilsons can prove damages is up to the court to decide. But thanks to the right-wing noise machine — and Ann Coulter — the road to the courthouse was made a lot smoother. If the righties don’t like it, they have only themselves to blame.