Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book 82: Fair Game

I went from reading about bad intelligence in fiction to bad intelligence in real life. But I will have to say Fair Game by Valerie Plame Wilson was exactly what I wanted to read about. While Valerie didn’t actually do bad intelligence per say, she experienced firsthand how carelessness and exposure is damaging to the intelligence community. I enjoyed the book a lot.

It’s been a while since I enjoyed a memoire from the intelligence world. But this book just called to me. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It also reminded me how much I enjoy trying to understand what was redacted. Since this book had to go past the PRB (Publication Review Board), it’s entertaining to see what is deemed to be classified or dangerous to print and what is not. Some books are given a thorough job of redactions while other books have so much detail, you can scratch your head in amazement in that the book was able to get approved by PRB.

Now I will admit I was uncomfortable to read the afterward, that is where there is a lot more information in there that the CIA didn’t want Mrs. Wilson to publish but since it was in the open source, the publishers decided to put it in print. I hope that it didn’t add any additional blowback. It was interesting to see that Ames might have given Valerie’s name to the Russians as a potential spy (although that’s being debated and probably why the CIA wants to limit some of the information by Plame Wilson so it won’t confirm/deny that she was a said spy or if it was someone else). I place a lot of trust in the PRB in order to decide what is fit for print rather then a publisher or journalist to decide what is safe.

Now the life of Valerie Plame Wilson is both interesting and in a way a bit tragic. Her name was released to journalists as a way to minimize a critique that the US used faulty intelligence as a basis for the Iraq war. That act alone caused a lot of exposure for the CIA and damaged a lot of cases around the world that had any contact with Wilson (who was working with the counterproflieration of WMD). It was a dumb thing to by the government officials to let slip. But it was great to see the personal side to the problem. Since the leak not only damaged the cases, it killed her career and her livelihood.

I'm also very disappointed by how the publishers steered people to reading about postpartum depression rather then books about gathering intelligence. Quite frankly, that is more reading page should have directed readers. Her postpartum was only one chapter versus the many chapters about being an operative.

I really liked this book. But this book is not for people who don’t like redacted material. There are a lot of black out words, phrases and even paragraphs.

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