Valerie Plame and Doug Liman Say Iraq War Lies Led to Trump-Era ‘Gaslighting’

October 22, 2018

By Carlo Versano

Valerie Plame Wilson says a movie about the George W. Bush White House's exposure of her covert role as a CIA agent is more relevant than ever in the Trump era of "lies and deception."

Plame spoke to Cheddar Monday alongside director Doug Liman on the occasion of the re-release of Liman's 2010 film "Fair Game," which tells a dramatized version of the story that became widely known as the Plame Affair and eventually led to the conviction of top Bush aide Scooter Libby on charges related to blowing Plame's cover.

Plame, a former covert nuclear proliferation specialist, was outed as a spy by a newspaper columnist in 2003 after her husband, then-ambassador Joe Wilson, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times that cast doubt on one of the Bush administration's pivotal reasons for invading Iraq. Plame's identity was then leaked to Robert Novak of The Washington Post by White House officials looking to discredit his findings.

Liman said his film about the scandal, which stars Naomi Watts as Plame and Sean Penn as Joe Wilson, is particularly well-suited to the current political moment.

He originally made the film while some of the main events were still in progress ー so he decided to re-edit it without even asking for permission from his studio, Lionsgate ($LGF).

"I knew there was a better movie in there," he said. "Sometimes you need a little distance from the story."

The original film debuted during President Barack Obama's first term, years before President Trump pardoned Libby for his role in the matter. That gave the film a new sense of urgency, according to Liman.

That pardon, Plame said, "had nothing to do with Scooter Libby," and was more of Trump "sending a message to handful of cronies" that he would protect them.

Plame said she thought audiences would connect the relevant dots from the events of the film right to the 2016 election of Donald Trump.

"We're living in a time of lies and deceptions and kind of crazy gaslighting," she said.

"I feel like a lot of that began with the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the lies that led us to that war."

Expanding on her criticism of the Trump administration, Plame said his Saturday announcement that he plans to withdraw the U.S. from a decades-long, landmark nuclear treaty with Russia is "really bad news" and part of the administration's larger pattern of "dismantling a lot of our commitments to the international community."

The recut "Fair Game" hits streaming platforms on Oct. 23.

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