Judge Bates declared the actions of all the defendants as within the scope of their duties and, therefore, under the federal statute protecting federal employees from liability for their actions persuant to their legitimate jobs, that no crime had taken place. He described the outting of Plame as deplorable, but that these officials had a right to counter charges made by Valerie Plame Wilson's husband Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson in his published disclosure that there was no reason to believe that Saddam Hussein had actually purchased yellow-cake uranium from an African country. The judge studiously ignored the statute that makes it illegal to reveal the identity of covert agents of the federal government. Perhaps the judge thought that not ignoring the statute would give credence to the Plame case that the statute is in play, a matter of considerable disagreement among legal scholars, since the Congress wrote the statute with very little concern for actual implementation of the law. Even so, the judge cannot dismiss one law in favor of another without hearing evidence.
What the judge did do was to say that countering a statement by one individual can be accomplished by injuring a relative or spouse of that individual, which is clearly not legal, not ethical, not the intent of the law that protects federal employees, and which raises the question of whether the judge meant to found his argument on the flimseyest possible foundation thus to get it out of his court and his ass off the front burner!
The damage to Valerie Plame is obvious. She can no longer act as a covert agent. Her career is ruined. She is asked to bear the reprisal from Cheney et al for the affront that her husband gave this corrupt administration.
The damage to the anti-nuclear proliferation group where she worked is perhaps less obvious, but nevertheless discernible. Now all agents of that group must operate with the fear that their own identities will be compromised—and their lives and families jeopardized—if they choose to provide intelligence that is not what Cheney or Bush expected and wanted. Moreover, the damage to the anti-nuclear proliferations group's reputation is now established at just the very moment when the question about an Iranian nuclear weapon threat is very much on the table. Cheney deliberately set up this cloud so that rapid response to a concocted threat from Iran would not be scrutinized by the CIA group that would normally do so.
The implications of Judge Bates's decision will go much further than the appeal Valerie Plame will mount. The absurdity of the decision calls up the question of collusion and obstruction of justice from within the justice system itself. It is a very sad day for Constitutional government and yet one more clear sign that the only way out is impeachment of Cheney and then of Bush.