A new title for Armitage: Defendant

Plame, Wilson to add former deputy secretary of state to their civil lawsuit.

Published September 13, 2006 7:00PM (EDT)

The legal group representing Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame just announced that they'll be adding former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as a defendant in their civil lawsuit.

The Nation's David Corn and Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reveal in their book, "Hubris," that Armitage was the first administration official to leak Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington executive director Melanie Sloan isn't arguing that Armitage was part of what Patrick Fitzgerald has called a "concerted effort" to discredit Wilson. However, she says in a press release that Armitage's actions in revealing Plame's identity still amounted to a violation of Plame's constitutional right to both privacy and property.

While some voices on the right have suggested that the news about Armitage somehow undercuts the idea that Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were engaged in a conspiracy to discredit Wilson by outing Plame, Sloan seems to be having none of it. "The addition of Armitage as a defendant in no way reduces the culpability of the three original defendants," she said. "Separate and apart from Armitage's actions, Libby, Rove and Cheney engaged in an intentional and malicious conspiracy to expose Mrs. Wilson's identity as a covert operative for the CIA in order to punish Mr. Wilson for his public statements about the president's justifications for the war against Iraq. This case was and remains about one issue -- the abuse of government power."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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