Four years and three months after waking up on a Sunday morning and learning that her career as a clandestine intelligence officer was over because of a stupid column by Robert Novak, Valerie Plame Wilson finally gets to meet the public and tell some of her story.
Sunday night she appears on 60 Minutes, and kicks off a book tour that will start Monday morning on the Today Show and include stops at Larry King Live and the Daily Show. Unfortunately, Val cannot be totally forthcoming. I am not talking about revealing sources or methods that would compromise intelligence operations. She is a solid professional and would never entertain such nonsense. But the CIA succeeded in getting a Federal judge to block Val from admitting that she started working with the CIA in September of 1985.
It is as if Rod Serling has returned from the dead with a 21st Century version of the Twilight Zone. The CIA won the initial round in Federal Court and insists Valerie cannot acknowledge working at the CIA prior to February 2002. Because of a pending appeal in her freedom of speech case against the CIA, she cannot say anything about joining the CIA in September of 1985 fresh out of college. She cannot say anything about her initial impression of her Career Trainee classmates–such as Jim Marcinkowski, Brent Cavan, Mike “the Griz” Grimaldi, Precious Flower, and mois. She is proscribed from telling you about wandering the forests of Camp Peary learning land navigation and she certainly will not, at least for now, be able to tell you about being taken hostage and subjected to torture for two days.
Valerie especially cannot tell you about her first tour overseas as a case officer. Ironically, her first boss overseas–Fred Rustmann–has gone on the record and tried early on in this scandal to argue that she was not a NOC (i.e., Non Official Cover officer). But Fred, who was forced out of the CIA and into early retirement because of misdeeds overseas, was not around long enough to learn that after her first tour Val was given the opportunity to become a NOC.
Not only did she get the opportunity. She took full advantage of it and embarked on a career that would change her life in ways she never imagined. She walked away from diplomatic cover and was left naked of the protection normally accorded to diplomats. She had to rely on her wits and tradecraft, and did so successfully for many years, until betrayed by the Bush Administration. But she cannot tell you about that period. At least not now.
Her publisher, Simon and Schuster, came up with a nifty idea to tell the story of the period of service Valerie cannot talk about. They hired Laura Rozen and she interviewed people like me, who served with Valerie. Laura does a great job but it is still a second best solution.
Come Monday you can read for yourself the legal documents surrounding Valerie’s case. They will be posted at www.fairgameplame.com.
We do know this one key thing with certainty–Valerie was not some low level, desk jockey, secretary taking up space and using oxygen at the CIA. The CIA does not prevent such people from telling their story. Nope. Valerie’s very existence as a CIA operative is deemed by the CIA to be so sensitive a topic that she can say nothing about activities prior to February 2002. But she can admit that in February 2002 she was a senior covert operations officer involved in projects that went to the heart of the President’s highest priority–finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie’s identity and ability to carry out that mission during a time of war were compromised by Dick Cheney, Sccoter Libby, Ari Fleischer, and Karl Rove. Their actions were both treasonous and cowardly. Yet the person being penalized and compelled to sacrifice her constitutional right of free speech is Valerie Plame Wilson. The good news is that the American people will finally get to meet the classy, smart lady I served with at the CIA. She achieved her aspiration to be good intelligence officer and still found balance in her life to be a good wife and a good mother. She lost her career and her ability to help support her family. As a nation we have been deprived of her service because of the pettiness and stupidity of the Bush Administration. A successful book tour will be small recompense for the loss Val has experienced. But let’s hope its enough to ensure that Val, Joe, and the kids have a happy, long life.