Former CIA spy speaks on media and politics

Valerie Plame Wilson has given many interviews since July 2003. Her life completely changed when she was thrown from a private world as a covert operations officer working for the CIA into the very public world of print media.

Wilson speaks today at 7 p.m. in the Sun Dome Corral. Her speech will cover the importance of the media in the perception of current events. Wilson’s personal trials with the media and other events have caused her to call for a more transparent media, one that is willing to reveal sources if their information is disputed, she said.

Wilson plans to tell students that they need to not be afraid to hold their government responsible for accuracy of information.

In her autobiographical book Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House, Wilson tells about her training in the CIA and her career. Whole pages were censored due to claims of security concerns from the CIA. Although public documents acknowledge she was in the CIA for more than 20 years, they have continually denied any knowledge of Wilson prior to 2000.

Wilson’s story is one that has many layers. Her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former foreign service officer, was sent on a mission to Niger to investigate the transportation and purchasing of yellowcake uranium, a raw material needed for nuclear devices. In a column he published in The New York Times, Wilson claimed that the Bush administration had misused information he reported to justify invading Iraq. In the column, Wilson stated he felt the war was not only pre-emptive but also unjustified.

Days later, Robert Novak, in a column for the Washington Post, claimed Mrs. Wilson – still under covert status with the CIA at the time – had gotten her husband a job at the CIA because of her status there. Mr. Wilson had no previous experience with the Agency prior to that mission, and this connection ruined his credibility, according to Novak.

Wilson’s discussion on youth involvement in politics stems from a disconnect she observed during a speech delivered by then-Secretary of Defense Colin Powell to the United Nations.

The generation of American citizens most affected by the war – 18-30 year olds – is historically inactive in politics, with only 64 percent registered to vote, according to the Youth Voting Coalition. Wilson hopes to urge students to be participants in their government, saying that there are many ways to be a part of the political process.

“You can do volunteer work, you can be on student council, you can stuff envelopes,” she said.

Wilson said she hopes this generation can realize that “this is our government” and that participation is necessary to ensure that it functions properly.

Wilson’s message is aimed at prompting her audience to action and reminding them that they are able to have a hand in shaping their government. Wilson took a nonpartisan approach to government saying, “you serve your country, you do not serve a Republican or a Democrat.”

“How important it is to hold your government to account, how important it is to speak out when you know the truth and to educate yourself,” she said.

Aside from her public life, Wilson said she hopes that she can be remembered for her personal life and how she contributed to her nation.