CIA Won’t Let Plame Write Book

The CIA Publications Review Board is denying Valerie Plame permission to write about her work for the Agency, or even mention that she did so, Michael Isikoff reports in the latest Newsweek.

The panel refused Plame permission to even mention that she worked for the CIA because she served as a “nonofficial cover” officer (or NOC) posing as a private businesswoman, according to an adviser to Plame, who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive issue. “She believes this will effectively gut the book,” said the adviser. Larry Johnson, a former colleague, said the agency’s action seems punitive, given that other ex-CIA undercover officers have published books. But even Plame’s friends acknowledge that few NOCs have done so. CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said the panel was still having “ongoing” talks with Plame to resolve the dispute. “The sole yardstick,” he said, is that books “contain no classified information.” A spokesman for Simon & Schuster, Plame’s publisher, declined to comment.

While there is a certain delicious irony in this, as Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, have waged a public battle for years protesting that her cover was blown, the decision seems rather silly if she is not revealing sources and methods. That she was a CIA NOC is, after all, hardly a state secret these days.

My guess is that this is more of a classic Catch-22 bureaucratic decision than punitive action. After all, the CIA itself initiated the procedures that shined public light on an otherwise innocuous aside in a column by Robert Novak. They can hardly be angry at Plame for getting outed.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. spencer says:

    If you checked your time line I believe you will find a significant amount of time and public discussion occurred between the time of the Novak article and the CIA initiating procedures.

    I know you are not trying to be misleading by pointing out that Z follows A, but there are a number of quite significant letters between the two.