Fair Game

Valerie Plame was in the CIA. She was trying to figure out if the Iraqis had nukes back in 2002. Her husband, Joe Wilson, was even getting involved in the spy stuff. He was a former ambassador and took a trip to Niger to check an important piece of intelligence. A very important piece.

Then Scooter Libby and the White House started getting involved. Libby appeared to be angry that the CIA hadn’t found any nukes. He figured the Iraqis had them for sure because they were darn close 1991 and they’ve had ten more years to work on them. He’s like, “Just find ’em, CIA.”

Plame starts working overtime to figure this out and husband Joe starts getting discouraged and pissed because he’s starting his own gig in Washington after being an ambassador and his wife is always gone so it’s a logistical nightmare raising the twins.

They portray the White House as you would expect them to be portrayed by Hollywood, as a group with tunnel vision and a preconceived notion that Iraq had nukes. The CIA, Valerie Plame, and her husband knew this was wrong. We still invade Iraq. You know the story.

All this, very convincing with hindsight (I still need to do an accuracy check). But that’s not the point of the movie really. It’s easy to throw the Bush administration under the bus for blowing this intelligence, but the movie doesn’t dwell on this. It dwells on the fallout of his apparent vendetta against an outspoken Joe Wilson (he blew holes in a key piece of intelligence that Bush used to convince Americans of Iraqi nukes). The fallout I’m speaking of is marital strain for Plame/Wilson, job losses for both, and a serious hit to their reputation.

David and Goliath. Small taking on big and powerful. Family drama. Fact based. Good story.

I feel there’s a subtler point that I’m not sure what to make of. Here it is. Shouldn’t the CIA get accorded the same type of respect and honor that our armed forces get? If so, how do we show it? Do we show it enough?

You don’t ever get a “thank our troops” type of sentiment for the CIA. In fact, since 9/11, it seems they get increasingly maligned. Is this deserved? I feel like I should have been outraged about the leaking of Plame’s status.

The White House basically released to the world that Plame was a CIA agent. Only her husband and parents knew. Can you imagine that? Your best friends think you work for a venture capital firm but really you’re trying to save the world.

She was a spy, man. We’re not talking about an analyst or desk jockey here. We’re talking spy, in the field, doing secret agent stuff, until some dude named Scooter Libby takes it on his own to bring Plame/Wilson down.

Well, actually it wasn’t Libby really, I think Richard Armitage eventually copped to the leak. Libby took the fall though and got 30 months in jail and a $250,000 fine, but Bush commuted the jail time anyhow. So the whole thing kind of went unpunished.

Plame and Wilson moved to Santa Fe and wrote non-fiction books. They consulted on the movie and I think she’s going to start writing spy novels. Sounds like they’re making a living and maybe even living the dream in that beautiful New Mexico town. My wife and I have been planning to go there for a vacation but haven’t pulled the trigger. Gail says they have a huge outsider art community there.


Oh well, I digress.

The ending was kind of slick. They had Naomi Watts walk into Congress to begin testifying on this…then they blanked the screen, paused and did some beeps and blips, and switched to recorded video of the actual event with the real Valerie Plame while they started rolling the credits.

We watched on Showtime. We don’t buy movie channels, but we got it free for six months in some promo deal. Gail made the decision to watch, I was just along for the ride. I liked it.

Here are other options to look into this:

The special prosecutor was Patrick Fitzgerald. That dude had his hands in everything it seems.