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CIA legally censored ex-operative's memoir, appeals court rules

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The CIA did not violate the First Amendment rights of ex-undercover agent Valerie Plame Wilson when it refused to allow…

The CIA did not violate the First Amendment rights of ex-undercover agent Valerie Plame Wilson when it refused to allow her to publish information about her work with the agency in her 2007 memoir, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City (2nd Cir.) has ruled.

The appellate court found that even though the dates of Wilson’s tenure with the agency are a matter of public record because they have appeared in letters from members of Congress, including them in her memoir would still violate the secrecy agreement she signed when she joined the CIA.

Although the CIA "may have been negligent in communicating personnel information to Ms. Wilson without proper classification, the information only became public when Ms. Wilson — knowing that the CIA was insisting on maintaining the secrecy of her service dates — nevertheless authorized a member of Congress to publish the CIA communication in the Congressional record," wrote Judge Reena Raggi for the court.

Wilson’s memoir, "Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House," detailed being outed as an uncover operative by syndicated columnist Robert Novak. Disclosure of a CIA operative’s identity is a federal offense, and senior White House staffer I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury related to his discussions of Wilson’s status.

As previously reported, the book’s publisher managed to include the information at issue in the case by hiring a freelance writer to pull the same dates from public sources while Wilson’s attorneys lodged their legal appeal.