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Plame, publisher say they're suing the CIA

The former agent and Simon & Schuster claim the agency tried to block her proposed book.

June 01, 2007|Josh Getlin | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Simon & Schuster and author Valerie Plame, a former covert agent for the Central Intelligence Agency, said Thursday that they are suing the CIA for attempting to block her efforts to write a book about her years of service.

Plame became the focus of controversy when several Bush administration officials were accused of leaking her covert status to journalists in 2003 after her husband, former envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly raised questions about the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq. In a subsequent federal prosecution, former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Plame's memoir, "Fair Game," is due in October, and the publisher said it was asking a New York federal court to declare that Plame can list her years of service in the agency, even though officials have said such information is considered classified. In a statement, Simon & Schuster said these dates were already part of the public record, in an unclassified document released by the CIA and also on a website, www.gpoaccess.gov.

Adam Rothberg, a corporate spokesman for Simon & Schuster, said the CIA's effort to keep such information classified -- particularly the details of Plame's service before 2002 -- was "an unreasonable attempt at prior restraint of publication." The lawsuit also criticized the CIA for requesting that significant portions of Plame's book be censored or masked as fiction to avoid reference to her service in the agency before 2002.

The CIA, which has acknowledged only that Plame worked for the agency since 2002, has approval rights over all writings of former officers before they can be published.

George Little, a CIA spokesman, declined Thursday to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit. But he said that typically "the sole yardstick for pre-publication review" of such manuscripts was that "they contain no classified information," the revelation of which "could cause damage to operations." He said the agency was continuing to review the matter.

Rothberg said that Simon & Schuster still expected to publish Plame's book on schedule. She is due to appear Saturday on an author's panel at the BookExpo America convention in New York, Rothberg added.

josh.getlin@latimes.com

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