Armitage Added To Plame Lawsuit

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, August 28, 2002. Armitage said on Wednesday he believed the United States could make a compelling case to topple Iraqi leader Sadam Hussein. REUTERS

Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson will include ex-deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in their civil suit in the CIA leak case, the Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington (CREW), counsel for the Wilsons, announced Wednesday.

Armitage is being sued for violating the "Wilsons' constitutional right to privacy, Mrs. Wilson's constitutional right to property, and for committing the tort of publication of private facts," CREW said in a release.

Plame and her husband, a former ambassador, filed a lawsuit in July against Vice President Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Karl Rove, claiming that they had violated her constitutional rights and discredited her by disclosing that she was an undercover CIA operative.

"The addition of Armitage as a defendant in no way reduces the culpability of the three original defendants," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said, "this case was and remains about one issue – the abuse of government power."

Read the Wilsons' amended legal complaint
Armitage admitted to CBS News last week that he had inadvertently revealed Plame's identity to journalists Bob Woodward and Bob Novak.

It makes sense that the Wilsons would include Armitage in the lawsuit, CBS News Justice Department producer Beverley Lumpkin, since he was the original leaker. Plus, logically speaking, he was the one to "put her in play," Lumpkin says.

Although Armitage described his disclosure of Plame as inadvertent, Bob Novak contested that characterization in his column Wednesday.

"Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat," Novak writes, "he made clear he considered it especially suited for my column."

Novak goes on to say that "Armitage's tardy self-disclosure is tainted because it is deceptive."

Armitage told CBS News correspondent David Martin that he was remorseful, including towards the Wilsons themselves.

"I feel terrible every day," Armitage said, "I think I let down the President. I let down the Secretary of State. I let down my department, my family, and I also let down Mr. and Mrs. Wilson."

Early in the leak inquiry, Armitage had told authorities he was Novak's source. Armitage said Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald asked him to not to say that publicly. Fitzgerald then pressed on with the investigation, questioning White House aides. Among them was Rove, who appeared five times before a grand jury before being cleared of wrongdoing this summer.

When Libby was indicted in October 2005 on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and lying to investigators, Fitzgerald said Libby was the first official to discuss Plame in a conversation with New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

After Fitzgerald's comment about Libby at a news conference, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward reminded Armitage that he had made a passing comment to him days before Libby's conversation with Miller. That meant that Armitage, not Libby, had been the first to mention it to a reporter, and he quickly informed the prosecutor of that recollection.

  • Jennifer Hoar

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