Plame loses another round in court

The ex-spy whose unmasking led to the conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide cannot disclose the dates she worked for the CIA because the details were never declassified, a federal judge has ruled.

The decision, made public on Friday by U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones, was a victory for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which sought to block former agent Valerie Plame Wilson from including the dates in her upcoming memoir, “Fair Game.”

Plame, along with publisher Simon & Schuster, filed a lawsuit in May against Mike McConnell, the U.S. director of national intelligence, and CIA Director Michael Hayden, seeking to stop the CIA from interfering with publication of her book.

“The information at issue was properly classified, was never declassified, and has not been officially acknowledged by the CIA,” the judge said.

Plame’s cover as a CIA agent was blown when her identity was leaked to reporters and appeared in a newspaper column in 2003, shortly after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, emerged as an Iraq war critic.

Cheney’s former chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was convicted of lying and obstruction of justice in the investigation of the leak. President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s 2 1/2-year prison sentence last month.

Plame’s suit argued that the CIA released her dates of service in an unclassified letter sent to her in 2006 by the agency, and that the agency “now purports to classify or reclassify Ms. Wilson’s pre-2002 federal service dates” so it cannot be published in her memoir.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said the letter had been “an administrative error” because it contained classified information.

Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster, said the company was considering all available legal options and is moving forward with the publication of the memoir.

“We are disappointed in the court’s ruling, which we believe runs counter to the First Amendment, sets a dangerous precedent, and creates an unreasonable standard by which the government can disappear public information and rewrite history,” he said.

All publications by CIA and ex-CIA officials must be approved by a review board, which says its only objective is to prevent classified material from being released to the public.

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols)