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In his new film Fair Game, Bourne Identity director Doug Liman tells the story of real-life covert operative and Santa Fe resident Valerie Plame Wilson. Wilson, her husband journalist Joe Wilson and Liman are in attendance at the Nov. 5 premiere, and host a Q&A after the show. SFR interviews Plame about the film.
For 20 years, Valerie Plame Wilson worked her way up the CIA ladder to eventually become chief of operations for that organization’s task force in Iraq.
Wilson’s assignment was to, while posing as an energy analyst, gather evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. She was very good at her job.
Officially, Wilson was referred to as NOC, “nonofficial cover.” If a NOC officer is identified by a foreign agency or captured in the field, no one knows who they are and they have no diplomatic immunity. Only the most resourceful spies possess the skills required to handle such a position.
In the summer of 2003, Wilson’s life collapsed around her. On July 14 of that year, conservative columnist Robert Novak published an article in the Washington Post in which he identified Wilson and her CIA affiliation.
Novak’s article was believed to be retaliation by the Bush Administration for an op-ed piece Wilson’s husband, Joseph, had written for The New York Times earlier that year.
The leak was eventually traced back to the office of the vice president, and led to the prosecution of the vice president’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, among others.
The damage had already been done, however, and the Wilsons’ lives would never be the same.
Valerie Wilson recently took a few moments to talk with the SFR about her post-spy life in Santa Fe.
SFR: How have you adjusted to life after the CIA?
VPW: I miss my job. I loved my career, but that chapter of our lives is closed right now. My husband and I are just focusing on being happy with our new life here in Santa Fe.
What is it that you’re doing right now, exactly?
I’m working at the Santa Fe Institute, and I’m also working on a spy thriller.
How much of the thriller is based on your real life experiences?
My motivation behind it was to portray a female CIA operative in a more realistic way. You know, without so much of the sex appeal and all that.
A number of random comments around the web focus on your physical appearance and specifically how attractive you are. How does that make you feel?
Well, it’s certainly better to be called attractive as opposed to the alternative. I find the whole notion of public exposure difficult.
How do you feel about the choice of Naomi Watts to portray you in the film?
She’s great. Both her and Sean [Penn] are actors of a very high caliber.
How do you feel the current administration has handled the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan?
I worked in intel, I’m not a policy person, but I feel like we will be paying the price for the previous administration’s handling of Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come.
Fair Game Premiere
Friday, Nov. 5
Lensic Performing Arts Center
211 W. San Francisco St.
The film opens in wide release at UA DeVargas 6 on Nov. 10.