The Plame suit is a publicity stunt. It is another reminder of the hypocrisy that pervades the media-dubbed “good guys” in this melodrama that should have closed on the first night.
Judy Miller (and, to a lesser extent, Matt Cooper) insisted that they owed it to their sources to keep a promise of confidentiality, even if it was an illegal promise. Legally, though, they only needed to reveal their sources’ communications to the grand jury – which is a secret proceeding. They could have protected their sources against embarrassing publicity (as, for example, Bob Novak has done) as far as the rest of the world was concerned. But, no, the second they got out of the grand jury, they went as public as they could go. It gave them notoriety and helped their publications sell issues. Such noble martyrs to the First Amendment!
Then there’s Plame & Wilson. So obsessed over the need to protect their deep secrets that they pose for Vanity Fair … and, so far as I’m aware, Cliff’s insightful suggestion that Wilson may have outed his wife to David Corn has never been knocked down. Now, this deeply private, professionally discrete couple has … filed a lawsuit that will bring more attention to themselves. Voluntarily, they have subjected themselves to the prying scrutiny of the civil discovery process (and perhaps even countersuits).
In any event, the Supreme Court, in 1875, held in Totten v. United States that, because of the obvious state-secrets concerns, lawsuits may not be premised on covert espionage employment agreements. Totten was not permitted to sue to enforce obligations he claimed the United States owed based on his activities as a Civil War era spy. The Totten doctrine was reaffirmed by a unanimous Supreme Court in 2005, in Tenet v. Doe (involving husband-and-wife spies who similarly claimed the government reneged on its commitments to them).
Case closed. The suit is a frivolous gambit for more media attention (and, quite clearly, it is having the intended effect).
Another theme of this fiasco: Never let the law get in the way of a good story.