.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Outed spy takes her turn to talk

-A A +A
By Carol A. Clark

SANTA FE — No longer able to fly under the radar, betrayed American spy Valerie Plame Wilson left her life in Washington, D.C., and moved with her family to Santa Fe earlier this year.Plame Wilson, 44, spoke of her veiled life fighting terrorism, the sudden glare of public attention following the scandalous leak of her identity, and her legal case pending against White House officials, during a talk and book signing hosted by Garcia Street Books Tuesday evening at the Lensic.Author and journalist Jonathan Richards introduced Plame Wilson, calling her “a very gutsy lady – a lady whose courage is an inspiration to us all.”“I’m Valerie Plame Wilson and I’ve got a story to tell you,” she said as she took the podium. “It’s been a really long time getting here: four-and-a-half-years.She told the packed theater that in the CIA she got to jump out of airplanes, fire a variety of automatic weapons and other exciting things.In her new book, “Fair Game - My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House,” in which many passages are blacked out by the CIA, Plame Wilson details her recruitment by the CIA and instruction in the spying arts, including pursuit driving, blowing up cars, AK-47 rifle proficiency and steganography. Steganography is the embedding of a piece of critical information in a non-critical host message on web-pages and advertisements to distract opponents’ attention.During her initial CIA induction process, she spoke of what any secret agent worth her salt would do when asked about meeting another agent in a foreign hotel room and suddenly hearing police banging on the door: she said she would shed her blouse, tell the other agent to lose his shirt and they both would jump in bed before telling the police to come in.She apparently got it right. She went on to work in operations for the CIA. She became an undercover agent after returning from a series of overseas assignments. The CIA created a nonofficial cover for her including a fictitious job with no discernible ties to the U.S. government. In that role, she lost diplomatic protection and rights. She was on her own if detected or arrested by a foreign government.Plame Wilson was born in Anchorage, Alaska. Like her father, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Samuel Plame, and her brother, Robert Plame, a Vietnam-era Marine who returned from war with a badly damaged right arm and hand, Plame Wilson said she wanted to serve America, too. In her opening remarks before the House Oversite Committee, Plame Wilson said she worked on behalf of national security and on behalf of the people of the United States until her name and true affiliation were exposed in the national media through a leak by administration officials. In the run-up to the war with Iraq, she said she worked in the counter proliferation division of the CIA, still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified.“I raced to discover solid intelligence for senior policymakers on Iraq's presumed weapons of mass destruction programs,” Plame Wilson said. “While I helped to manage and run secret worldwide operations against this WMD target from CIA headquarters in Washington, I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence.”It’s a federal crime to knowingly disclose the name of a covert American secret agent under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (IIPA). It's also difficult to prove and perhaps next to impossible if the White House is involved, she said in her book. Critics have denied that Plame Wilson was in an important covert position at the CIA, saying her role was more of a secretarial nature.Plame Wilson explained how she was outed four months after the invasion of Iraq. Conservative journalist Robert Novak, in his column on July 14, 2003, disclosed her identity citing “senior administration officials” as his sources. “Bob Novak is nothing more than a Hollywood tabloid reporter trolling in the sewers of Washington, D.C.,” said Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph, who joined his wife on stage following her talk.Novak revealed Plame Wilson’s undercover identity in the midst of the controversy following a New York Times op-ed piece the week before by Wilson accusing the Bush Administration of doctoring prewar intelligence in saying Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake in Niger as a way to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.The famous “16 words” in Bush’s Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union address – “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” – were later retracted by the White House as something that should not have been in the speech, Plame Wilson said. Novak’s column sparked a criminal investigation into whether his sources had violated the IIPA. Following nearly four years of investigation, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was convicted on four counts. He was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, a fine of $250,000, and two years of supervised release, including 400 hours of community service. Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month prison sentence, leaving the remainder of his sentence intact.Following Bush’s pardon, Wilson testified before Congress that he thinks Bush and his administration are coconspirators in an ongoing obstruction of justice.When asked Tuesday night if the reputation of the United States has been damaged, Wilson said, “We need to get rid of these bums and pursue them to the ends of the Earth for the crimes they’ve committed.”The Wilsons filed a civil case against Libby, Cheney, Bush’s deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, who resigned Aug. 31, and former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage who resigned Feb. 22, 2005. On July 19, District of Columbia District Court Judge John Bates dismissed the case saying there is no constitutional remedy available to the Wilsons. On July 20, on behalf of Joe and Valerie Wilson, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a notice to appeal the decision. On their website, www.wilsonsupport.org, the Wilsons state that the case presents important issues regarding the abuse of government power for political ends and say they will continue to aggressively pursue all legal remedies.