Valerie Plame, the former CIA operative whose unmasking led to a federal investigation and the indictment of a top vice presidential aide, has agreed to a book deal with the Crown Publishing Group.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but two sources close to the negotiations said the deal was in the low seven figures. Several publishers had competed for the memoir, scheduled to come out in the fall of 2007 and tentatively titled “Fair Game.”
In 2003, White House adviser Karl Rove reportedly said Plame was “fair game” after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of distorting intelligence about Iraq to justify going to war.
“She will tell her whole story, absolutely,” Crown’s publisher and senior vice president, Steve Ross, said Friday. “This book will be the first time the public will get to hear about her work and the surprising role she had in intelligence gathering in the lead-up to the war in Iraq.”
Ross also said that Plame would tell of “being a high ranking woman in the male-dominated intelligence community.” He said Plame would write the book herself and that “one of the most pleasant surprises was the quality of her craftsmanship and the richness of her storytelling” in the book proposal she submitted.
Story might be hard to tell
How much Plame, now retired from the agency, will reveal could be complicated by two factors: The CIA, which reviews the manuscripts of former agents and has reportedly become stricter about what it will permit, and next year’s scheduled trial of I. Lewis Libby, the former chief aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Libby is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to the FBI and a federal grand jury about how he learned about Plame’s identity and what he subsequently told reporters about her. Rove remains under investigation.
Ross acknowledged that Plame could be subject to CIA censorship, but said restrictions “would be a potential public relations land mine if the CIA was seen as trying to block” too much of her book. Commenting on Libby’s trial and any possible future indictments, Ross said that “Obviously, we would not want to publish anything that would jeopardize any important legal cases.”
Recipe for scandal
The scandal emerged after Joseph Wilson took a trip at the CIA’s request in early 2002 to Niger. The CIA sought to determine whether there was any truth to reports that Saddam Hussein’s government had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger to make a nuclear weapon. Wilson discounted the reports. Nevertheless, the allegation wound up in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address.
Citing senior Bush officials, syndicated columnist Robert Novak named Plame in a column on July 14, 2003, eight days after Wilson alleged in an opinion piece in The New York Times that the Bush administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq to justify going to war.
Plame has made few public statements since her status was revealed, although she appeared with her husband in a photograph that ran in Vanity Fair in 2004. Plame and Wilson recently attended the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
Wilson himself wrote a book, “The Politics of Truth,” published by Carroll & Graf in 2004.