Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hack crony creates "duty of rebuttal"

Leopold and Renner:

A federal judge has dismissed the civil lawsuit filed against top Bush administration officials by former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. The judge, John Bates of the US District Court in Washington, DC is a Bush appointee who previously dismissed a lawsuit filed by the federal government against Vice President Dick Cheney. That suit sought access to Cheney's energy task force documents.

Since his tenure on the federal bench began six years ago, Bates's legal opinions and rulings supporting the administration's executive powers stand in stark contrast to his legal work as an assistant US attorney. He worked for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr prosecuting President Clinton's Whitewater investment deals. [...]

"When that guy was working for Ken Starr, he wanted to go open the dresser drawers of the White House," Leahy said. "I guess it's a lot different when it's a Republican vice president." [...]

Bates, who was appointed by President Bush in 2001, first came to the public's attention in December 2002 when he dismissed a lawsuit filed against Cheney by the Government Accountability Office that sought access to the vice president's energy task force documents.

In that case, Bates threw out the GAO's lawsuit, stating that the GAO lacked the authority to sue the vice president, a ruling that was criticized by the legal community. On Thursday, Bates dismissed the Wilsons' lawsuit for similar reasons. [...]

Um, excuse me, I'm just a simple guy from Browneye, Nowhere, but it seems to me any grade school pupil would recognize Valerie Plame has actual standing in this case. Unless...court was held under some kind of oppressive despotism...

He wrote that, as a technical legal matter, the Wilsons can't sue under the Constitution. Bates added that the defendants had the right to rebut criticism aimed at the White House by Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who accused the administration of twisting prewar Iraq intelligence. He said the leak of Plame's undercover CIA status to a handful of reporters was "unsavory" but simply a casualty of Wilson's criticism of the administration.

"The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr. Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavory," Bates wrote. "But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence by speaking with members of the press, is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials."

Doggone it, these Bush repressionists, they're just so...official...and technical...and important! I thought a rebuttal was something in a legal document which disproves the other party's assertion. A real judge would know that. Does Bates have a license? Not only does the law not apply to the Bush administration, this judge says they can redefine words and make whole new legal precepts on the fly. Amazing! It's also remarkable that in this case there isn't a problem that the prosecutor and judge were both appointed by this administration, which is also the defendant. It's just so convenient.

CREW and the Wilsons plan to appeal. Anyone taking bets on how that will go, or whether or not Congress will finally address the issue? You can read the ruling here.