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Federal Judge Backs CIA on Censoring Dates in Plame’s Book

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August 9 – August 16, 2007 Edition

Federal Judge Backs
CIA on Censoring
Dates in Plame’s

NEW YORK, NY/8/4/07–Federal District Judge Barbara S. Jones of Manhattan has ruled that Simon & Schuster’s soon-to-be-published book by former agent Valerie Plame must not disclose the dates she worked for the agency, according to a story in The New York Times August 3. A lawsuit filed by Plame and Simon &Schuster in May attempted to prevent the CIA from censoring any part of the book, but the judge ruled in the CIA’s behalf.

The book, titled Fair Game, was originally scheduled for publication in October and the publisher said it still plans a late fall release despite revisions due to the court ruling.The lawsuit contended that the dates of Plame’s employment were a matter of public record, and thus should not be stricken from the book. The fact that Ms. Wilson worked for the C.I.A. from 1985 to 2006 has been published in the Congressional Record and elsewhere, but the judge ruled Plame cannot refer to the dates in her book.

Judge Jones said that a classified court filing from Stephen R. Kappes, the deputy director of the C.I.A. contained a reasonable explanation for the agency’s position. Judge Jones did not reveal the reasons and said that Mr. Kappes has persuaded her of “the harm to national security which reasonably could be expected if the C.I.A. were to acknowledge the veracity of the information at issue, ” The Times reported.

The Times said that the C.I.A. apparently had no significant objections to the manuscript beyond the dispute over how long Ms. Wilson worked for it. In a December 2006 letter quoted in Judge Jones’s decision, the agency’s publication review board said the manuscript was “replete with statements” that “become classified when they are linked with a specific time frame.”

The statement hints that perhaps part of the CIA’s objection may not be disclosure of dates alone, but rather dates that are juxtaposed with certain events.

Plame and Simon & Schuster were not allowed to see the classified document. Adam Rothberg, Simon & Schuster’s vice president of corporate communications, told Authorlink: “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. While we are currently considering all our available legal options, we are proceeding with our plans for publishing FAIR GAME, and remain confident that it will be a compelling account of Valerie Wilson’s extraordinary experiences.”

Valerie Plame has been at the center of political controversy in which high-level officials of President Bush’s administration are said to have leaked Plame’s name as a CIA operative to the media in retaliation for an op-ed piece written by her husband, Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, pulbished by The New York Times on Jul 6, 2003. A grandjury investigation into the CIA leak resultedin the indictment and conviction of I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff of Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison, a fine and two years ofsupervision after his prison term, but President Bush commited the sentence. A civil suit filed by Plame and her husband was dismiseed onJuly 19, 2007.

Read the full New York Times story here.