Valerie Plame May or May Not Leave CIA

The Washington Post, in a story that did not make the morning papers but contains no actual news, has rushed for publication on its website a story that Valerie Plame Wilson may resign because her career was “derailed” by Scooter Libby. Or, she may not. If her career was derailed to begin with.

As Andrew McCarthy and Clifford May made clear in July, Plame’s covert days were well behind her before Scooter Libby ever set foot in the White House.

Still, let’s look at the WaPo piece.

With Career Derailed, Plame Likely to Leave CIA

What’s next for Valerie Plame?

Lost in the din of the leak scandal that has consumed Washington is the very personal impact on the gracious, willowy CIA operative at its center. Plame, the wife of former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and arguably the most famous spy in the world, is not likely to stay at the CIA, some acquaintances say.

Not likely? Some acquaintances say? Well, there’s a breaking news story if ever I heard one.

With her career derailed, Plame, 42, the mother of 5-year-old twins, hasn’t publicly signaled her plans. But privately she has said that she feels she has no future at the spy agency where she has worked for 20 years. “She really wants to be with her kids . . . to be that mom,” her friend Jane Honikman said last night. Although Plame has been under “tremendous stress” as the subject of global publicity and political spin, Honikman added, “she has a good sense of humor still and a wonderful, charming ability to look on the bright side.”

If her career was ruined by the Novak publication, it was ruined well over two years ago. She’s smart enough to be a covert CIA officer and she he’s still trying to figure that out?

In 2006, Plame marks her 20th year as a CIA officer, the vast majority of her service spent in the shadows as a clandestine operative. She qualifies for retirement but would not receive full benefits unless she stayed with the agency until age 50.

After her cover was blown by syndicated columnist Robert Novak in July 2003, Plame had no chance of working again in her chosen field, her friends say, and the strain of remaining at the agency has taken its toll. “For all intents and purposes out at the CIA, she’s like a leper . . . she’s radioactive,” said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and acquaintance of Plame’s who was in her officer training class in 1985-86. “There are instances where some people at headquarters have shunned her. In other cases, they don’t know what to say. It’s like someone whose child has died: What do you say to them? . . .

“There are a variety of things she could have done at the agency,” Johnson said. “She could have become a station chief overseas and run espionage operations. It has destroyed her life on that front. What is she supposed to do now, wear a button saying, ” ‘Hi, I work for the CIA’?”

This is nonsense. The woman has five year old twins and is married to a man who, even absent the revelation of her name and source of employment, is a preening media hound. Are we really to believe that she was going to be sent overseas for undercover work?!

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Media, , , , ,
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. Sean Giovanello says:

    From everything I have seen, she was brought back to the US in the mid-1990s because Aldrich Ames sold her name along with numerous others. That pretty much ended any covert options she had and doomed her to riding a desk.

  2. odograph says:

    Did you listen to Fitzgerald’s press conference?

    I thought he made a very strong statement that Plame’s position was “classified” and “not knows outside the intellegence community.”

    He also made a very strong statement that she was “blown” first by Novak.

    Compare and contrast to the rightist talking point:

    “Or, she may not. If her career was derailed to begin with.”

    Come on man, Fitzgerald is a smart guy saying just as much as he can say … and what he says contradicts this assertion.

  3. odograph says:

    s/knows/known (sorry)

  4. ken says:

    James, your anger at Valerie Plame for having been a covert CIA operative until outed by republican administration officials is peculiar.

    What has she ever done, except serve her country in an very important yet highly dangerous job, that gets you so upset?

    I don’t understand why conservatives, yourself included, are trying to discredit her.

  5. James Joyner says:


    I don’t have much regard for Joe Wilson but have no anomosity towards his wife. Beyond her name and a few vague details about her career, my impression of Valerie Plame Wilson is that she’s a very bright, attractive woman who has served well. I’m not out to discredit her, merely the media notion that she was a female James Bond.

    It was fine to maintain that pretense in the beginning; my initial posts operated under that presumption. It quickly turned out not to be the case.

    Virtually everyone agrees that she wasn’t working in an undercover capacity anymore and that, owing to her marriage to a high profile diplomat and other factors, wasn’t going to again.

    Further, it’s rather clear that “outing” her was inadvertant in the sense that the only point was to cast aspersions on Joe Wilson’s mission. They weren’t trying to punish him by risking his wife’s life and career; they were merely pointing out the his mission for the CIA was recommended by his wife, who worked there.


    Click the links in the article above. I know Fitzgerald said that but I’m baffled by that assertion.

  6. odograph says:

    Further, it’s rather clear that “outing” her was inadvertant in the sense that the only point was to cast aspersions on Joe Wilson’s mission. They weren’t trying to punish him by risking his wife’s life and career; they were merely pointing out the his mission for the CIA was recommended by his wife, who worked there.

    Actually, not only is this unsupported by the evidence, the available evidence actually points the other way daily kos story

  7. odograph says:

    As far as your bafflement … maybe it’s because he has a gang of FBI guys, and you and I don’t 😉

  8. James Joyner says:

    Odo: Not sure that the Kos link proves anything of the sort. All it says is that Libby knew that Plame worked for the CIA in the CPD.

    Well, yeah.

    The whole point was that the CIA folks gathering intel on Iraq WMD sent Joe Wilson–who is neither a WMD expert nor an Africa expert–to Niger to verify the yellowcake story. In trying to figure out how that happened, Cheney asked Tenet and he told him that Wilson’s wife recommended him.

  9. odograph says:

    I said “the available evidence actually points the other way.”

    I didn’t say “proves” because that would be unsupported.

    I’m afraid though that you don’t have much that “points” your way … it strikes me as little more than hope, that dispite the evidence, Libby did not know.

  10. I think Valerie Plame and a whole bunch of her CIA colleagues should be fired because they have been engaged in spying against Americans.
    In the midst of all of this Karl Rove\Valerie Plame controversy I have heard Valerie Plame described as being involved in “WMD counter-proliferation”. That’s not entirely true however. She and her coworkers were also engaged in spying on Americans inside America. I know. She called me in spring of 2003 pretending to be with Brewster-Jennings. Following that I got a call from “Gail Heights” at University Services trying to get information. As many of you may remember, Gail Heights was the alias used by Gao Zhan the Chinese scholar who was convicted of exporting microprocessors to Communist China. This was just one of many attempts by Valerie Plame and her
    colleagues to get inside my life.
    For a lot more information, see my website at:

    Tom Christian
    Weston, FL

  11. ken says:

    I’m not out to discredit her, merely the media notion that she was a female James Bond.

    Well she was a secret agent. Isn’t that closer to being a female James Bond that some blogger in his pajamas working all whiskery out of his bedroom?

    In the publics mind, her career was exotic, exciting and mysterious. She has, as required by her employer, never said anything publicly about her real job, even to this day. And those who know, aren’t talking.

    You can try to discredit her if you want to but the public image of her you will never dispell.

  12. ken says:

    Virtually everyone agrees that she wasn’t working in an undercover capacity anymore…

    Since her employment was classified, in other words James, secret, I would say that virtually no one, no one you would know anyway, actually knew a thing about her real employment status. And those that did know where sworn by blood oath (or its modern equivilent) to secrecy.

    It was the very revalation of her classified, secret, covert, employment at the CIA that prompted the CIA to refer that action to the Justice department for criminal prosecution.

  13. Pug says:

    Can someone tell me why, if Valerie Wilson was just a desk jockey, the CIA requested an investigation shortly after Robert Novak’s article naming her was published?

  14. Elmo says:

    It’s late …. I’m tired. So, forgive me if I go back through the other comments in the morning.

    “What’s next for Valerie Plame?”

    Well, let’s see? She and Hubby both screwed the country. I’m thinking a career at would seem like a natural.

  15. Jack Ehrlich says:

    Plame, in a sense outed herself. By involving herself in a mission in which she had a desired outcome, she was meddling in national politics. Her statement (the crazy notion that Saddam tried to buy uranium in Niger) and Joe Wilson stand against the war. The up coming election also plays a part. Wilson’s faulty belief that diplomacy can settle all disputes. All of these things play a part, but when Plame recommended (do what degree needs to be investigated) her unqualified husband to bring back the results that would verify her position. The process of outing herself had begun. Wilson indirectly indicated Chaney sent him to Niger. That inference was picked up by the media and became a truth. Well it was not. Wilson lied about what he found, he lied about documents, and we will never know what else. Why is it that Libby is in jeopardy for perjury, that he may or may not have committed, and the liar Wilson, and his wife, who he commonly introduced as his CIA wife, get no scrutiny what so ever.

  16. Hearts says:

    She said she wants to be President at ‘Vanity Fair’ when she admitted she was CIA operations officer paramilitarily trained. Maybe that was her goal all along and not the Deputy Director of FSB?