Debra J. Saunders

Former CIA operative Valerie Plame is Paula Jones -- if with national security credentials and Beltway savoir-faire. Both women filed iffy lawsuits that seemed more designed to discredit a president than to prevail in a court of law.

Jones never could prove that then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton hurt her career as a state worker after he allegedly sexually harassed her. Hence, there were no economic damages, as Judge Susan Webber Wright noted when she ruled against Jones.

The suit filed last week by Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, against Bush biggies -- Veep Dick Cheney, Cheney's former chief of staff Scooter Libby and Bush guru Karl Rove -- is equally nonsensical. As CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin put it, "I think this lawsuit ranks somewhere between an actual lawsuit and a publicity stunt."

"She wasn't fired," noted attorney Victoria Toensing, who served in the Reagan administration. "She worked for two and a half years (at the CIA) after the revelation. Nobody fired her. She's got a book deal she would not have had."

And, I'll add, Plame's deal to write her memoirs for Simon & Schuster -- after a $2.5 million deal with Crown Publishing fell through -- is not stopping the Wilsons from making online solicitations to bankroll "counseling them for their potential witness testimony" in Libby's trial and/or their dubious lawsuit. They need counseling to testify?

At least Plame emerges with a deal to write her memoirs, whereas Jones' contribution to publishing entailed posing for Penthouse -- an odd choice for a woman who claimed to be suing Clinton to restore her reputation. Then again, Plame's photo spread in Vanity Fair didn't quite fit with her alleged desire to stay under the radar while she worked at the CIA.

Both women have played along with partisans out to damage the president. Jones aligned herself with Susan Carpenter-McMillan and other Clinton bashers. Joe Wilson stumped for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, Bush's opponent.

The Left bashed Jones for enjoying her new-found fame. The Right bashes the Wilsons for the same.

There was some truth in both women's stories. Whatever did or did not follow, Jones did establish that Clinton invited her to a hotel room. As for Plame, she had a legitimate beef in complaining that Bushies outed her identity as a CIA employee -- even if the leak was not illegal. (Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's failure to prosecute the man who first leaked Plame's identity suggests the leak was not illegal. Note how Fitzgerald has charged Libby for lying to and obstructing investigators in the federal probe.)

Debra J. Saunders

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