Valerie Plame, the former undercover CIA officer whose 2003 exposure touched off a leak investigation, is accusing the government of delaying publication of her new book.
Plame and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, sued the CIA in a New York federal court Thursday. They accused the government of illegally refusing to let Plame write about the specific dates she worked for the agency.
The CIA, which has acknowledged only that Plame worked for the agency since 2002, must approve all writings of former officers before they can be published.
"The sole benchmark is whether it contains classified information," CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said. "The concern is that publication of the manuscript as submitted would cause additional damage to operations and would affect the CIA's ability to conduct intelligence activities in the future. That's the issue here and it's an important one."
Plame contends in court documents that the CIA released information about her work history in an unclassified letter about her retirement benefits. The letter, which the CIA says was sent inadvertently, was ultimately entered into the Congressional Record and says that Plame worked at the CIA for more than 20 years.
The book deal for Plame's memoir, "Fair Game," is widely believed to be worth seven figures. Lawyers asked a federal judge in New York to order the CIA to allow Plame to print the information.
Nobody was charged with leaking Plame's employment status. Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was convicted of obstructing the investigation and faces up to three years in prison when he is sentenced on Tuesday.