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Former CIA officer speaks to audience of 500 in GPAC
By Wade Allen
When former CIA Covert Operations Officer Valerie Plame Wilson visited campus on Nov. 5, many students wanted a chance to see her in-person, snap a photograph with her and obtain an autograph.
Nearly 500 people got that opportunity when Plame Wilson opened the floor for questions following her speech in GPAC at 7:30 p.m. She was appearing as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series.
“It was an extremely public time. I was in a state of shock for at least a year,” Plame Wilson said. “You have no idea what it is to lose your privacy until it happens to you.”
She said that “there were some really dark days” following her outing by late conservative columnist Robert Novak. He died in August.
“ R i c h a r d Armitage…he’s the one gave my name to Novak,” Plame Wilson said. “He’s since apologized.”
She said that she was hurt by her identity being revealed because she always enjoyed public service.
“I served my country for 20 years. I always liked the notion of serving something bigger than myself,” Plame Wilson said.
Loved her job
“This is not a Democrat issue – and it is not a Republican issue – it’s an issue of national security,” Plame Wilson said.
She felt very strongly that her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had caused the events that led to her outing. In July 2003, Joseph Wilson wrote a contributed article entitled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”
The article was published in the New York Times and indicated that White House officials had exaggerated the truth concerning Iraq’s ownership of weapons of mass destruction to justify going to war.
Plame Wilson greets students, faculty
Plame Wilson said that the Bush Administration was upset with the column and subsequently leaked her secret status.
She said that Cheney played a big role that led to her outing.
“We had a vice president that still had a chip on his shoulder from Watergate, who is concerned about a decline in public trust of presidential administrations,” Plame Wilson said.
Plame Wilson resigned from the CIA in 2006 in order to move to Santa Fe, N.M.
She said that she loved that area and it was a great place to raise her twin children, a boy and a girl, who are now nine years old.
Plame Wilson said that moving to New Mexico has “given me a time to sit back, relax and say, ‘What the hell just happened?’”
Had her status and identity not been publicized, she said that she thinks she would still be with the CIA and working overseas. Now that her name is public, she said that she’s feared for the life of herself and her family.
“I could no longer function in any job overseas,” Plame Wilson said. “Even though it’s been six years [since being outed], it feels like six seconds.”
Prior to delivering her speech, which lasted nearly an hour, she ate dinner with Chancellor Charles Jenkins, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Diane O. Jones and other distinguished guests.