Monday, March 10, 2014

Blowback



I watched part of Fair Game the other night.  It came out three or four years ago and tells the story of Valerie Plame, as played by Naomi Watts.  Sean Penn plays her husband, Joe Wilson.  Not the best movie in the world but fills the viewer in on some of the particulars surrounding the controversial leak of Plame's CIA identity by Robert Novak, which he regarded as "no great crime."  Many felt it was a vengeance hit for Wilson's criticism of the Iraq War.

Wilson had been a hero back in 1991 for staring down Saddam Hussein, as he harbored American citizens in the US Embassy awaiting exfiltration, or whatever the CIA calls it.  Seems he and his wife worked in concert in a number of covert cases, and they provided valuable intelligence to George H.W. Bush during the Persian Gulf War.

But, when Wilson did not play in to Dubya's war in 2002, he became much reviled in the White House and among conservative pundits, especially when he said to the New York Times that he felt many of the allegations leveled at Hussein's regime had been exaggerated, including buying nuclear material from Niger.

Novak claimed he was just filing a story on the Niger connection, and that the White House had not said that revealing her name would endanger anyone.  He was the only journalist to publish her name.  Other journalists had deferred to the White House's request not to reveal any sources.

Wilson was livid and went on air decrying Novak, as well as Karl Rove, who he believed to be behind the leak in the White House.  It became known as the Plame Affair, and gained widespread notoriety when the lovely Ms. Plame was exposed in the CIA leak hearings which followed suit.

Valerie and Naomi
Naomi Watts was certainly a good casting call, as was Sean Penn as Joe Wilson, but somehow the film wasn't able to capture the urgency of the situation.   The only person to face any charges was Scooter Libby, who many felt served as the fall guy for Karl Rove.   Bush later commuted his 30-month sentence.

Plame parlayed her experience into a book, which the movie was based upon, and has since become an author of espionage thriller, Blowback, following the spy Vanessa Pierson.   She reportedly signed a 7-figure contract for the initial book, along with other lucrative deals, making her a celebrity in her own right.

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