I find it interesting that 2010’s Fair Game is back on Netflix now as a trending selection. This is the true story of how the George W. Bush administration used disinformation and the outing of one of their own CIA operatives in the run-up to the Iraq war.
In 2002 and 2003, administration sources leaked stories about aluminum tubes supposedly meant for the construction of nuclear weapons, and stories about yellowcake uranium supposedly produced in the African nation of Niger, and about centrifuges in Iraq that were supposedly creating weapons grade nuclear material.
Archive footage of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell making these claims was interspersed with the story about what happened to Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson.
Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) was a CIA operative. She was an expert on the middle east. When the CIA was told that there had supposedly been a shipment of 500 tons of yellowcake from Niger to Iraq, they wanted to check it out. Plame’s boss asked if her husband Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) could go there. He knew the area well.
He did go and reported back that such a shipment was impossible. Niger couldn’t have produced that much yellowcake, and there had been no traffic indicating the movement of 500 tons of anything.
Furthermore, within the CIA, the opinion was that the aluminum tubes were not suitable for producing uranium, but were meant to create rockets.
When Joe Wilson’s report was disregarded, he wrote an op ed piece about it. He talked about it on TV. He did interviews. He basically called the stories coming out of the White House lies.
Scooter Libby (David Andrews) released a leak outing Valerie Plame as CIA. Everything she was doing in the CIA instantly shut down. People she had arranged to save, operations in mid-stride, all shut down. Joe Wilson’s platform for telling the truth about Iraq came under attack.
There was a news feeding frenzy. Reporters like Chris Matthews and Dan Rather talked about the story at length. The Wilson family was under siege.
While her husband Joe wanted to fight back, force the truth, Valerie remained loyal to the CIA. She didn’t want to talk about it. It caused great tension in their marriage. She took their two children and went to stay with her parents, Diane (Polly Holliday) and Sam Plame (Sam Shepard).
Valerie’s father was a 25 year veteran of the Air Force. He convinced her that Joe was on the right track. That the few people in the White House needed to be held to account for leading the country into a deadly war using false news stories.
Valerie went back to Washington, DC and agreed to take up the fight for truth with Joe. She testified before Congress. Their message was ignored and the Bush administration proceeded to invade Iraq.
Eventually the Wilsons left DC and moved to Santa Fe, NM. They’ve continued to speak out and have both written books about their experiences.
The film is based on the books Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government by Valerie Plame and The Politics of Truth: A Diplomat’s Memoir: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity (affiliate links) by Joe Wilson. Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth wrote the screenplay. Doug Liman directed.
Fair Game: Oh, so relevant
Fair Game is particularly relevant for voters to ponder right now. Once again we have an administration in the US with a President who seemingly cannot tell the truth about anything. He’s surrounded himself with people who are willing to spread his untruths just as Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell did before them.
We have members of the administration under indictment for various crimes and the strong suggestion that the man at the top might be indicted for crimes himself.
We have an election coming in November. If watching Fair Game helps you clear your vision of how leaders at the top can ruin lives, end lives, even start wars, then it’s worth watching it again right now.
Then vote this November. Your vote is your best tool for protecting the Republic we love so much.