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Outed CIA agent Plame adds Armitage to lawsuit

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame has added Richard Armitage to her lawsuit over the 2003 leak that exposed her secret status with the agency to journalists, her lawyers said Wednesday.

The move comes less than a week after the former deputy secretary of state acknowledged that he was the long-undisclosed source in an op-ed piece by columnist Robert Novak.

Novak published Plame's name in July 2003 after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, raised questions about a key element of the Bush administration's justification for going to war in Iraq -- that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium in the central African nation of Niger.

The article set off a lengthy federal investigation that eventually ensnared Vice President Dick Cheney's then-chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who has been charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators about his discussions with journalists about Plame.

Libby has denied wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty.

Armitage's disclosure -- which he says was unintentional -- violated Plame's privacy and ruined her career, court papers said, but Armitage was not included in the conspiracy accusations being leveled against Cheney, Libby and Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser.

Plame says the trio blew Plame's cover in retaliation for Wilson speaking out against the war.

"The addition of Armitage as a defendant in no way reduces the culpability of the three original defendants," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit watchdog group that is representing the couple.

Sloan echoed Plame's claim that the leak was meant as retribution and said, "This case was and remains about one issue -- the abuse of government power."

Neither Armitage nor his attorneys could be immediately reached.

The former deputy secretary of state told CBS last week he felt "terrible" about disclosing Plame's cover, which special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has said was classified. (Full story)

Armitage was reticent about further details because Fitzgerald "asked me not to discuss this, and I honored his request," he said.

No one has been charged with the actual disclosure, which can be considered a federal crime in certain circumstances.

In July, Novak said that Rove was the source who confirmed Armitage's disclosure. On Wednesday, Novak said Armitage mischaracterized his own actions during the CBS interview, particularly when he asserted the disclosure was unintentional.

"First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he 'thought' might be so," wrote Novak, a former CNN commentator.

Rather, Novak wrote, Armitage identified the CIA division where Plame worked and said "flatly" that Plame recommended her husband for the fact-finding mission to Niger.

"Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column," Novak wrote. "Armitage's tardy self-disclosure is tainted because it is deceptive."

The White House declined comment on the matter, citing the ongoing investigation.

Armitage, 65, was No. 2 at the State Department under former Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2001 to 2005. He left the post after Powell resigned at the beginning of Bush's second term.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has been named in Valerie Plame's CIA leak lawsuit.





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