Plame sues CIA over book restraint

A former US intelligence agent who was outed in 2003 in an Iraq war scandal that rocked the White House filed suit against the CIA Thursday over an order preventing her from publishing her memoirs.

The case centers on whether Valerie Plame can publish her dates of service. While the CIA says the information is classified, Plame and her publisher Simon Schuster say the details were released unclassified in 2006.

According to the suit, the CIA has demanded that significant portions of the manuscript "be excised or rendered 'fiction.'" Plame is arguing that the CIA cannot limit the publication of previously unclassified material.

The suit further says that Plame has been cooperating with the intelligence agency's publications review board for 10 months to resolve the issue.

"The executive branch of the United States government is unconstitutionally interfering with the publication of Ms. (Plame) Wilson's memoir, Fair Game, by classifying public domain information," Simon Schuster said in a statement.

"The CIA's effort to classify public domain information is an unreasonable attempt at prior restraint of publication," it added.

Plame was at the center of a scandal that erupted when her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, wrote a July 2003 opinion piece in the New York Times criticizing President George W. Bush's case for war against Iraq.

She contends White House officials deliberately leaked her name to the media to ruin her career and punish Wilson.

She also insisted that top White House political adviser Karl Rove was behind the leak. The incident led to a probe into whether administration officials had broken the law by knowingly outing a covert intelligence agent.

No charges were laid directly over the leak, but Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice over the affair.

Libby was convicted in March and faces up to 25 years in prison. Sentencing is set for June 5, although federal guidelines suggest he will face a much shorter sentence.