BY KIRSTEN JACOBSEN | NOVEMBER 12, 2010 7:20 AM
Valerie Plame Wilson has many reasons to be infuriated.
Her career as a CIA counter-proliferation agent was cut short in its prime. The intelligence she provided the Bush administration following 9/11 went largely unheeded. Her husband was all but vilified by the White House.
Yet during her speech Wednesday to a standing-room-only crowd at the IMU, she moved beyond the bitter futility of the blame game and spoke passionately about something she finds truly worth discussing — eradicating nuclear weapons.
Many may remember hazy details about Plame Wilson, who was outed in 2003 by the Washington Post’s Robert Novak. Both Wilson and husband Joseph Wilson — an African-affairs specialist and former ambassador — were involved in verifying and corroborating intelligence leading up to and following the advent of the war in Iraq.
But contrary to President Bush’s words in the 2003 State of the Union address, Wilson found no proof of secret sales of yellowcake uranium from Niger to Iraq. One of most prominent strands of evidence given for going to war was false.
Needless to say, this whopper was not going to sit well with the American people. In what amounted to hushed retaliation, the identity of Wilson’s wife was leaked to Novak. Richard Armitage and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby pushed “Plamegate” on reporters to distract them from questioning the administration’s unwarranted motivation for war. By Plame Wilson’s accounting, suddenly her job, credibility, and security were yanked straight from beneath her CIA desk.
“Literally overnight, I went from being a private citizen — to all of a sudden being a very public person and not in a good way,” she said Wednesday night. “It was a media maelstrom.”
But she did not focus on the grittier aspects of her rise to fame in her talk (nor did she go into any particular detail about her role in the months following her ouster), noting her obvious bias in recounting such matters.
Instead, she promoted a new raison d’être extending far beyond the political pandering, groupthink and cognitive dissonance that surrounded her last years in the federal government: a momentous campaign to bring an end to nuclear weapons worldwide.
Global Zero, a nonpartisan organization committed to returning to “a world without nuclear weapons,” fits nicely into Plame Wilson’s area of expertise. As an expert on both terrorism and nukes in the international arena, she is more knowledgeable than most about the threats of proliferation.
“I believe it’s a question of when — not if — a nuclear weapon goes off if we do not work to prevent it,” she said during her speech.
Emerging once again from the private sphere, Plame Wilson took part in the organization’s new documentary, Countdown to Zero, which warns of the increased and ongoing proliferation and ease of access to nuclear weapons. Now she is speaking out on behalf of Global Zero’s campaign, which is gaining unprecedented popularity worldwide: Nearly 400,000 citizens from every country have signed the “Global Zero Declaration,” handcrafted by political and military experts to radically reduce the number of nukes over the next 20 years.
It is of the utmost importance that we grasp the devastating consequences wrought by nuclear and radioactive weaponry. The new START treaty — recently signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — is not predicted to be approved unless it’s pushed through the Senate by Christmas time.
I say we take a note from Valerie Plame Wilson. Let us rise above political bickering and stalling and ensure the Senate approves this treaty, which affects more than party hard-liners.
And while you’re at it, take a moment to visit globalzero.org and become a signatory to the effort to eradicate nukes. I promise I won’t out you.