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Posted at 2:32 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Valerie Plame film panned all around

By Jennifer Rubin

A remarkable degree of consensus has broken out. No, not on the tax deal, but on a film, the subject of which was once the subject of political warfare between right and left. The Post editorial board, Judith Miller, and conservative writers now agree: Fair Game, the film portrayal of the Valerie Plame affair, is an outrageous fabrication. Miller, the former New York Times reporter who was jailed for refusing to reveal the source of her story on the leak, is the latest to weigh in. She has the goods on the long list of distortions, but I will focus on just one:

The person who first leaked the fact that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the CIA to conservative columnist Robert Novak--who published that information, and her name, despite his opposition to the Iraq war--was not a White House official. He was State Department official Richard Armitage. Like his boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Mr. Armitage was critical of the push to war.

Yet Mr. Armitage has no on-screen role in the film. He is mentioned only in the film's text epilogue.

The tension between the hawks in the White House and the more skeptical State Department is one of those inconvenient truths the filmmakers apparently chose to ignore. Acknowledging it would contradict the notion of a grand government conspiracy to punish Mr. Wilson, as well as the "Bush Lied, People Died" mantra.

Colin Powell, a figure who has attained near-sainthood among the liberal elites for, among other things, opposing the surge in Iraq, endorsing Barack Obama and reiterating whatever may be the mainstream liberal position of the day (be it on support for affirmative action or the START treaty), was central to this tale, a fact that even some critics of the film are queasy about pointing out. Perhaps now it's time for left and right to be candid: If not for the decision by Powell to remain mute about the identity of the leaker, Armitage, and not Scooter Libby, would have been the rightful subject of the inquest. But how likely would an inquest have been if the identity of the leaker was not the target of the Bush critics' ire?

Miller does us a service by reminding us that Plame was not the super-heroine depicted in the film, and her husband was not the whistleblower he made himself out to be. But more importantly, she reminds us that the entire investigation and the subsequent prosecution and conviction of Scooter Libby was based on a false theory (the precise falsehood spun by the film), namely that Plame's "outing" was a plot by Vice President Dick Cheney, executed by his loyal advisor. The facts said otherwise, but, as Miller points out, "Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor who would have indicted the proverbial ham sandwich, never indicted anyone for having outed Ms. Plame." Libby was convicted, without the benefit of critical expert testimony on memory and in contravention of substantial evidence that this was a garden-variety instance of innocent misrecollection.

It's an uncomfortable subject for many on the right, as well. For George W. Bush, who had an opportunity to grant Libby a pardon, refused to do so, based on advice of White House counsel Fred Fielding. One wonders what Fitzgerald, Armitage, Powell and Fielding think of the film, or whether any of them experience a pang of remorse in moments of quiet contemplation.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 9, 2010; 2:32 PM ET
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She has the goods on the long list of distortions, but I will focus on just one:

Do you mean to say that a movie version of an actual event might not be 100%,50%,25%,even 5% accurate? Very Disturbing.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Gee, for a while there they seemed to be one of Washington's power couples, at least to the lefty herd. Their movie has been roundly panned, and it appears their 15 minutes of fame are up. Not a moment too soon.

Posted by: RAS743 | December 9, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

A "remarkable consensus" is three rightwing nitwits in accord? On whether Bush, Cheney and Miller are liars?
Please, lady, pleas.

And, by the way, when Gallup calls for my preferences, I'll take Plame over Rubin any old time and any old place.

Posted by: rbpgregory | December 9, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

It's depressing to read the comments by RAS743, rcaruth, and rbpgregory. Jennifer Rubin has made an excellent argument, and these guys just aren't listening.

rcaruth, dismisses the movie as mere Hollywood, but at, 80% of 122 critics liked the movie: This is the mainstream media, folks. Most of these obviously liberal critics are smugly approving of the "powerful" case the movie makes against "Bush/Hitler".

RAS743 says the movie was "roundly panned". See above.

rbpgregory isn't listening at all. Dude, Judith Miller and the Washington Post editorial board are hardly "rightwing". Poke your head outside the self referential lefty bubble once in a while. Try and get it through your head, Richard Armitage, an anti-war critic, not Dick Cheney or one of his staff, was the leaker.

The real take home message here is that the Valerie Plame story and subsequent movie provides the 1 millionth instance of the deep disconnect between the mainstream media narrative, and actual reality.

Posted by: TYoke | December 9, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I am sure of one thing: this film will lose money! It will probably not even earn enough to pay its production fees. Only the hard left will see it in the theaters. I will wait until my public library offers it for free. The only reason I will view it is because I am some sort of political nut who goes out of his way to understand the leftist mindset. Don't I have anything better to do? What can I say? Watching grass grow is also one of my favorite pastimes.

Posted by: DavidThomson | December 9, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Are you lot serious??? A CIA covert agent is named because her husband very rightfully was critical of the "intelligence" used to justify the Iraq War and this is anyway shape or form the fault of Plame herself? No wonder America is in such dire straits.

Posted by: tjcole1 | December 11, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

This is a very disturbing film -- and one's discomfort is increased by seeing the effort underway to discredit it.
My questions would be:
(a) Did Armitage not know Plame's identity on the basis of a White House document -- drawn up by the Vice-President's office?
(b) Is it true that Plame's outing resulted in targeted assassinations of several Iraqi scientists that she was in contact with -- and by Mossad no less??

Posted by: Kate40 | December 12, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

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