Valerie Plame Wilson, the former covert CIA agent unmasked after husband Joe Wilson wrote an op-ed critical of Iraq WMD intelligence, gives her side of the story in the new book Fair Game. Wilson, now living with her family in Santa Fe, N.M., talked to PEOPLE about being outed and the strain that it put on her marriage – as well as her advice for her 7-year-old twins and her struggle with postpartum depression.
How did you feel when you realized you had been outed?
I read Robert Novak’s column in the Washington Post on July 14, 2003, very early in the morning. Joe came in, put the paper on the bed and said, “Well, the SOB did it.” I felt as if I’d been sucker-punched. You think about your family, your career, about your network, your assets, their physical security. How did he get my name? Why was he using my maiden name? It’s a jumble. And it all happens in a fraction of an instant.
Do you miss being a spy?
I loved my job. I was proud to have served my country. Yeah, I miss it. If Mr. Novak hadn’t written his column, I’d still be there. I’d be working in Washington or overseas, doing things that really matter.
In your book, your anger seems muted. Why?
I haven’t been told that. I certainly don’t want to appear to be anyone’s victim. I don’t want anyone’s pity. I am furious and outraged at what happened. But my personality is not one to rant and rave, except on occasion with the kids. But that’s another story.
Would you want your 7-year-old twins to be spies?
Well, I hope they would think about public service of some sort. That’s one way. There are many other ways to serve your country. It will be a good 20 years until they are ready, and I am hopeful that some much needed change comes to our intelligence apparatus by that time.
Keeping your marriage together in the face of threats, money problems and political attacks must have been difficult. What was the lowest point?
2004 was truly the year from hell. There was the Republican National convention, and the occasion was used as a sort of pre-Swift-boating, except of Joe Wilson, not John Kerry. Then I was accused of having suggested Joe, recommended him, sent him to Niger, all of which were false allegations.
It was so distorted, so twisted, and Joe was furious with me because he felt he had defended me gallantly, and I was not coming to his defense – although he understood that as an employee of the Agency I could not speak publicly. It was just tearing us apart. Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I felt the only thing that will save my marriage, is that goddamn it, I’m not going to let them have that too. We will get through this.
Why did you include a chapter on your postpartum depression?
I felt that I had extremely high coping skills, but the depression hit me like a ton of bricks. I had no idea what was happening to me. My publisher indulged me in letting me tell this little piece of the story, because I feel passionate about it, about education and advocacy. It is so easily diagnosed and easily treated. Maybe my book can help someone else.
What’s the status of your book being made into a movie?
From everything I see of Hollywood, I can’t believe any movies get made at all. There is a script, and that’s progress, I suppose. I have no idea who should play me. Sure, I have favorite actresses, but it’s totally out of my control. I just hope it’s someone with intelligence and good skills. That’s a lot to ask in Hollywood.