The CIA is refusing to permit publication of a book by former covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson. Ms. Wilson’s cover was blown by Bush administration officials in retaliation for critical comments made by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, regarding trumped up evidence for the invasion of Iraq. I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby has already been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for giving false testimony in the investigation of this affair.
The agency is claiming that information in the book, “Fair Game,” is classified and prohibited from publication. That would seem to be a reasonable position had the Agency not already sent unclassified versions of the data to Wilson which was subsequently published in the Congressional Record. Wilson and her publisher, Simon & Shuster, are now suing the Agency to secure permission to publish her memoir.
This is a blatant example of prior restraint and a violation of free speech rights. The notion that data that has previously been publicly disclosed can be forced back into obscurity is absurd, especially in this Internet age when information is widely dispersed and recorded. The data in question regards Wilson’s dates of employment with the Agency, and those dates are even published in the newspaper accounts of this litigation. It’s not exactly top secret.
We need to remember that we are dealing with the most secrecy obsessed administration in history; an administration that has been busily RE-classifying thousands of documents that were previously de-classified, and taking many more steps to inhibit open government and free access to materials of interest to the public.
It is particularly ironic that the White House that cavalierly outed Wilson as part of a political vendetta is now pretending to be concerned about operational security. A spokesman for the CIA gave this explanation for why they were refusing Wilson’s request to publish:
“Official acknowledgment of certain matters could cause some on whom we rely to think that we do not take protecting sensitive equity seriously, or cause them to think twice about assisting us in the future, and that could have serious ramifications.”
If they were truly concerned about the ramifications of not protecting sensitive equity, maybe they shouldn’t have unveiled Wilson’s identity in the first place. And while they are now calling it a “mistake” to have released her dates of employment, there has still been no acknowledgement that blowing her cover might also have been an error. This hypocrisy only affirms that the obvious intent of the CIA, and their bosses in the White House, is to frustrate Wilson’s efforts to tell her story because it might embarrass a corrupt and dishonest administration. Let’s hope that the courts demonstrate more integrity and rule to uphold the First Amendment.