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Valerie Plame Affair

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The Valerie Plame Affair is one of political intrigue and shenanigans.[note 1]

A brief outline of the events:

  1. Valerie Plame was a covert C.I.A. operative working on weapons proliferation.
  2. Her husband, Joe Wilson, was sent to Niger by the C.I.A. to investigate the allegation that Saddam Hussein was supposedly trying to obtain "yellowcake" uranium ore from Niger.
  3. George W. Bush referred to the attempts by Saddam Hussein to get uranium from Africa in his State of the Union address after the C.I.A. had already determined that the story was a hoax.
  4. Joe wrote a NY Times op-ed piece[1] debunking the administration's claims regarding the yellowcake - i.e., pointing out that the intelligence showed was not "fact-based."[note 2]
  5. Now it gets murky. In what appeared to be political retribution for Joe's op-ed piece, Ms. Plame's identity as a covert op was leaked to the media. The suspected pathway was from Dick Cheney's office to columnist Robert Novak, among others.
  6. The illegal[note 3] release of this classified information destroyed Plame's cover, her work and perhaps career, and the cover of the sham company for whom she "worked."
  7. After many machinations and much political opinion-mongering, Cheney aide Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the ensuing investigation of the "outing" of Plame. Many powerful people submitted amicus briefs calling for leniency. He was fined and given a jail sentence. President Bush commuted the jail sentence, but did not pardon him. In April 2018, however, Trump pardoned Libby.[2]
  8. The most positive result from all this was a 2010 movie, Fair Game, directed by Doug Liman and starring Naomi Watts as Plame. According to IMDB trivia, there's a coded message concealed in the end credits.

External links[edit]


  1. RationalWiki's perspective on this is not the partisan politics so much as the bogus "science" involved in ignoring the evidence uncovered by the US government, in order to pursue the administration's agenda.
  2. As usual.
  3. Some argued that it was within the power of the President or Vice President to declassify any classified information. However, as leak ≠ declassification, and since neither the POTUS nor the Veep were willing to actually claim/own up to having declassified/disseminated the information (or authorised this to be done), this is a pretty esoteric concern.