The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I Mean Valerie (Plame)

Valerie (Plame) (Wilson)—who can be sure which name to parenthesize?—is said to be getting $2.5 million for a memoir of her life as a CIA analyst, demonstrating that the leaking of her name is the best thing that ever happened to her career.

Much as I hope this case will take down the vicious Cheney and Rove, and Judith and Scooter, and all the other war cabal-ers, the core infraction has never seemed like a big deal. I wonder how many people knew that (Plame)(Wilson) was CIA. I wonder what she was actually doing, besides commuting to a desk job from her beautiful home in Washington, and reading the Financial Times. Under cover, of course. In what sense was her work compromised? Yes, they were scurrilously trying to undermine Joe Wilson, but how did this leak smear Wilson? He’s been dining off it ever since. (Though yes, he was a noble force on the Niger lies.)

I’ve had brushes with CIA analysts over the years and the sad truth is they’re a lot like journalists. They read stuff. They send one another emails. (If you’re Ken Pollack on the Iran account, you don’t even go to Iran). I know they train to handle guns, but how often do they actually do so? I once visited an embassy compound in the Third World where a friend in State explained to me that the CIA guys just paid off informants to get information about the bad guys. I wonder whether (Plame)(Wilson) even got that far. According to the Vanity Fair profile that launched her blonde meteor, she graduated from Penn State—in the glamour days CIA people did a little better than that—and apparently spent her time in various European capitals, such as dangerous Brussels, working on, among other things, her wifeability. She landed an Ambassador. Good for her. But $2.5 million? There better be a lot of sex.