I finally had a chance to see Doug Liman’s “Fair Game,” which depicts the Bush administration’s efforts to silence former ambassador Joe Wilson by outing his wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame.
The film should be required viewing. It effectively exposes the blatant deceit and criminality underlying the decision to wage war on Iraq, and the lengths to which White House was willing to go to cover up the truth. It is against the law to expose the identity of a CIA agent, but when Wilson wrote an op ed disproving Bush’s claims about uranium from Africa, officials in Vice President Cheney’s office leaked word to the press of his wife’s connection to the CIA. Their goal was to divert attention from why Bush lied to questioning Joe Wilson’s motives. They also sought to deter any other would-be truth tellers.
What struck me most in watching the film and recalling those dark days of deception was the complicity of the U.S. national security establishment. With very few exceptions, most foreign policy officials went along with a war they knew to be unjustified and foolhardy. The truth about fake uranium from Africa and bogus aluminum tubes was well known to anyone paying attention at the time. So were the reports of Hans Blix’s UN inspectors, who visited hundreds of Iraqi sites in the weeks before the invasion and found no evidence of WMD.
I personally spoke with a number of retired and current U.S. and British senior officials in the months leading up to war. All agreed that the case for war was flawed, but none was willing to speak out publicly. ‘The decision has already been made,’ one said; ‘there is nothing we can do,’ replied another. All across Washington and London thousands of public officials knew the truth but remained silent.
Joe Wilson was one of the few who dared to expose the lies. He and his wife paid a heavy price, but they were vindicated four years later when Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, was convicted of lying and obstructing the investigation into the outing of Plame.
It takes courage to stand up for truth.