Retired CIA officer: Quit saying the Valerie Plame leak was a big deal already

As you’ve probably heard, there’s a big Hollywood movie in theaters, Fair Game, purporting to tell the story of CIA agent Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson’s contretemps with the Bush administration after her supposedly covert identity was leaked to the press. (Note that this is really the second movie about the Plame affair, if you count the thinly fictionalized version.) In any event, at least one 31 year veteran of the CIA officer is sick of people making Plame out to be some kind of folk hero and wrote the following letter to the Washington Post over the weekend:

In 1978, my CIA affiliation was exposed by Philip Agee in his book “Dirty Work II.” I’m nothing special; more than a few colleagues have been exposed at one time or another. I went on to serve nearly 34 years.

As luck would have it, I was at one point charged with looking into possible damage in one location caused by Valerie Plame’s outing. There was none.

So enough with the overwrought claims of injury that “Fair Game” suggests. Those claims devalue the resolve of the officers who have overcome truly dangerous exposure, and they cheapen the risk from laying bare their very real achievements.

It was wrong to expose Plame. It was ludicrous for her to claim that the exposure forced an end to her career in intelligence. In the words of my favorite poet, A.E. Housman: ” ‘Tis sure much finer fellows have fared much worse before.”

R.E. Pound, Reston

Note that in his review of the film, none other than Roger Ebert wrote the following:

In the film, we see that Plame, under a variety of aliases, ran secret networks of informants in Bagdad and other Middle Eastern cities. When the administration blew her cover, several of her informants were killed; some reports say 70. Then the Bush spin doctors leaked the story that she was only a CIA “secretary.”

Emphasis added. I have no idea what left-wing fever swamp Ebert pulled that information from. But I think I’ll take the word of the 34-year CIA veteran tasked with reporting on the damage from the Plame affair that there was likely no harm done by leaking her identity.

Beltway ConfidentialCIARoger EbertUS

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