"How Dirty Did the Tricks Get?" Times Swallows All Valerie Plame's Claims
Valerie Plame (wife of serial anti-war misleader Joe Wilson) has just published "Fair Game," the biography of her life before and after columnist Robert Novak "outed" her as a "CIA operative" in a column in 2003, starting a domino effect that made her and her husband heroes of the antiwar movement and the media, including the Times.
Janet Maslin's Monday review neither questioned Plame's story nor raised a single inconvenient truth.
"Needless to say, the story of how her career was derailed and her C.I.A. cover blown also has its combative side. But the real proof of Ms. Wilson's fighting spirit is the form in which her version of events has been brought into the light of day. 'Anyone not living in a cave for the last few years knew I had a career at the C.I.A.,' writes Ms. Wilson (who has gone by that name since she married former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV in 1998). Once that career was destroyed, she wrote this account of her experiences as a means of both supporting herself and settling scores. She was contractually obligated to submit a draft of the book to the Central Intelligence Agency's Publications Review Board. That draft came back heavily expurgated. She was then expected to rewrite her book so that it made sense despite many deletions."
"Similarly, great domestic stress accompanied the news that the columnist Robert Novak had blown Ms. Wilson's cover by publicly identifying her as a C.I.A. agent. As to precisely how that bombshell affected the Wilson household, Ms. Wilson says that her husband gave her the morning newspaper and a mug of coffee and said grimly, 'Well, the S.O.B. did it,' and left the room.
"'Fair Game' - which takes its title from Karl Rove's phrase about the legitimacy of blowing Ms. Wilson's professional camouflage - describes how intense stress wrought havoc on the Wilsons' marriage, not to mention Ms. Wilson's state of mind....But she powerfully evokes the disbelief, fury and uncharacteristic terror that came with being outed. The book describes how both Wilsons found themselves professionally adrift after their 'Swift-boating.' (Ms. Wilson uses that term to suggest that the smear campaign against her family was a dry run for the attacks on Senator John Kerry that soon followed.) However horrified she was to become a target of dirty tricks from the right, she felt even more betrayed when Senator Evan Bayh, a Democrat, identified himself as 'agnostic' on Ms. Wilson.
"How dirty did the tricks get? Ms. Wilson describes being denied protection by the C.I.A., fearing for her children's safety, finding out that her tax returns were being audited and having been lucky enough to discover that some bolts holding the Wilsons' outdoor deck, high above the ground, had disappeared. The Wilsons were pushed to the point of looking at ads for real estate in New Zealand. They went on a ski trip rather than witness the festivities surrounding President Bush's second inauguration. They have since moved to New Mexico and have left Washington behind."
Maslin forwarded all of Plame's paranoia, but made no mention that it was a State Department official and Colin Powell ally, Richard Armitage (hardly a warmonger) that leaked Plame's identity to Novak in the first place - or raised any questions about Joe Wilson's dubious veracity. Even the Washington Post concluded, in a September 2006 editorial:
"...it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming - falsely, as it turned out - that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials."