Vanity Fair Game
The true story of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame is very different from both the Hollywood and the mainstream-media versions.


Clifford D. May

On the silver screen, Plame attempts to exfiltrate Iraqi scientists who know for certain that Saddam has no nuclear-weapons program only to have her CIA handlers shut down her mission. This is pure fiction, but savor the irony: Too many in the CIA worked diligently to undermine President Bush — the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate saying Iran’s nuclear-weapons program had been halted is only the most infamous example — but in the movie, the CIA protects Bush and betrays Plame.

By the way: As Quin Hillyer pointed out in The American Spectator, Plame’s own memoir suggests she was among the many intelligence analysts — at the CIA and other agencies — who were convinced that Saddam was still developing weapons of mass destruction.

She was in good company: The 2002 National Intelligence Estimate concluded with “high confidence” that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and an active nuclear program. Former vice president Al Gore and then-senator Hillary Clinton believed that. Senator Ted Kennedy said: “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.”

As for Wilson, prior to the U.S. intervention, he told Dave Marash, then a reporter for ABC News, that if American troops were sent into Iraq, Saddam might “use a biological weapon in a battle that we might have.” That was his argument against the war: not that Saddam did not have WMD but that it would be dangerous for American troops to face them.

Fair Game, the film, is not fair. It slanders innocent people caught in a web spun by Joe Wilson to flatter his vanity and that of his wife. But what can you expect from Hollywood? The demands of both drama and fashionable Left Coast ideology mandate that the glamorous blonde spy who made the cover of Vanity Fair (oh, the irony) must be the hero and that all the president’s men — especially Cheney, Rove, and Libby — must be villains.

I expect more truth and accuracy from the mainstream media. Silly me.

— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism and Islamism.