Former CIA Agent Chronicles Her Side of Leak Case
Reading Fair Game, the new memoir by former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, requires leaps of faith and logic.
Words, sentences and even whole pages have been blacked out — cuts ordered by the CIA. A second section of the book written by journalist Laura Rozen tries to fill in some of the many blanks.
In 2003, Valerie Plame Wilson was "outed" as a CIA operative in a column by conservative commentator Robert Novak. That came days after an op-ed piece by Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was published in The New York Times. In it, he accused the Bush administration of exaggerating the Iraqi threat in the lead-up to the war.
At the time, Valerie Wilson was a covert operative at CIA headquarters — tracking intelligence about Iraq's presumed weapons of mass destruction.
Wilson says that reading Novak's column "felt like a sucker punch to the gut."
"It just took the wind out of me. Immediately, I thought of the network of assets I had worked with. I thought of my family's safety ... and I knew instinctively my career was over. That was it," Wilson tells Melissa Block.
Wilson denies claims that she recommended her husband to a high-level trip to Africa to investigate whether Saddam Hussein had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. She also notes that his diplomatic experience in both Africa and in Iraq made him highly qualified to undertake the Niger mission.
Only one person was convicted in the case of the leaking of Plame's identity: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's then-chief of staff. Libby was found guilty of lying and obstruction of justice in the case. President Bush commuted his 30-month sentence.
Wilson praises Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the case. But she says that information revealed during the course of the trial showed that other senior government officials were also responsible for the leak of her identity.
"What was shocking to me was the extent and the recklessness with which these senior administration officials tossed around my name," Wilson says. "They understood what was at stake. They all signed secrecy agreements, as well, to protect the Constitution and national security when they came on board .... They should have known better."
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