Outed CIA operative speaks in Youngstown

Valerie Plame spoke in Youngstown as part of the YSU Skeggs Lecture series

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A former CIA spy whose identity was leaked by the Bush administration spoke to a packed house at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown Wednesday evening.

Valerie Plame spoke as part of the Youngstown State University Skeggs Lecture series. After her talk, she signed copies of her New York Times best-selling autobiography “Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.”

As a covert CIA operations officer, Plame worked to protect America’s national security and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In 2003, she found herself at the heart of a political firestorm when senior White House and State Department officials revealed her secret status to several national journalists, including a syndicated conservative newspaper columnist who published her name.

A subsequent investigation exposed what some called an act of treason, saying that Plame’s outing was coordinated with the involvement of key figures within President George W. Bush’s administration after her husband, Joe Wilson, criticized the Iraq war. Lewis Libby was indicted and found guilty on four of the five counts against him.

During Wednesday’s lecture, Plame called the invasion of Iraq “one of the worst policy decisions in the history of our nation.” She also said during a press conference prior to her lecture that the U.S. needs to to work on diplomacy in the Middle East to get other nations involved in fighting ISIS.

“I am glad I am not a policy person, because I think the options are really limited. I am not sure what leadership looks like. Is that boots on the ground? Is that more military action?,” Plame said. “Our allies in the Middle East, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, where are they? Oh, they are there, but flying combat missions and dropping bombs on selected targeted sites is clearly not enough.”

Plame said she is currently very concerned about the country of Jordan, which has hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees pouring across the border. And she called a nuclear Iran a “powder keg” in the Middle East.

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