Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The Plame Affair in Vanity Fair

Glenn Reynolds is understandably troubled by the latest news, as reported by Howard Kurtz:
Former ambassador Joseph Wilson has been quite protective of his wife, Valerie Plame, in the weeks since her cover as a CIA operative was blown.

"My wife has made it very clear that -- she has authorized me to say this -- she would rather chop off her right arm than say anything to the press and she will not allow herself to be photographed," he declared in October on "Meet the Press."

But that was before Vanity Fair came calling.

The January issue features a two-page photo of Wilson and the woman the magazine calls "the most famous female spy in America," a "slim 40-year-old with white-blond hair and a big, bright smile." They are sitting in their Jaguar.


Plame is wearing a scarf and big glasses, which just adds to the aura of mystery. In a second shot on their terrace at the couple's home near Georgetown, she holds a newspaper in front of her face.

"The pictures should not be able to identify her, or are not supposed to," Wilson said yesterday. "She's still not going to answer any questions and there will not be any pictures that compromise her." The reason, said Wilson, is that "she's still employed" by the CIA "and has obligations to her employer."


Ron Beinner, a contributing photography producer at Vanity Fair, said Plame was not originally scheduled to participate in the Nov. 8 shoot, but agreed to join her husband once "she felt suitably disguised."
When the Plame story first broke, I focused on the national security dimension. I'm still concerned about this issue and want the investigation to proceed. Intelligence, covert operations, and other related matters are very important, especially with the War on Terror still ongoing, and I want the Bush administration to be fully committed.

Glenn proclaims the scandal "bogus." Though I hesitate to sign on to the proclamation just yet, I frankly wouldn't be surprised to learn down the line that the matter was overblown, given the Wilson couple's act.

Here's what irks me the most: Wilson claims that the White House leaked his wife's identity for political reasons. Yet he's using the scandal for similarly ignoble reasons, including book deals. To be sure, the leak is far more serious. But there's something very unsettling about how Wilson criticizes the administration for inappropriately using intelligence when he himself fails to treat the matter with the delicacy it deserves.

I can understand if he's railing against the Bush inner circle in the interest of exposing its alleged thuggery. I can also understand if Plame's out in public and photographers just happen to snap a shot. But posing for a magazine, even if "disguised," indicates a slimy agenda.


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