American Scandal

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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.

Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.

The Plame Affair - Justice Served | 3

The Plame Affair - Justice Served | 3

Tue, 31 Dec 2019 10:00

Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson make a surprising announcement. Scooter Libby faces a day of reckoning in court, and Patrick Fitzgerald’s case comes to an end.

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It's October 28th, 2005. Valerie Plame is wrestling with her five-year-old twins. She's trying to get them ready for school, but this morning she's feeling distracted. Because she's waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for a call that just won't seem to come. She rubs her eyes. They feel scratchy and hot. She's exhausted. She looks over at her husband, Joe, who's getting dressed for the day. God, she thinks he looks drained. She gets the kids ready and keeps waiting for the call. And finally, at noon, Joe glances at Valerie and then picks it up. This is Joe Wilson. Plame watches her husband's expressions, trying to guess what the special prosecutor's office is saying on the other line. Huh? All right. I see. All right. Well, thanks for letting us know. He hangs up and Valerie shoots him a demanding look. So the indictments are going to be filed within the hour. Fitzgerald is holding a press conference at two. Libby's going down. Going down? On what? What are they charging in with? I do not know. What do you mean you don't know? Didn't they say? No, they were quick. That's all they said. Valerie exhales. Okay, she thinks it's happening. It's actually happening. Soon, Wilson leaves the house and Plame has a welcome moment of solitude. She expects to feel relief from the news, but instead, dread and suspense bubble up. She tries to ignore the feeling, but it's no use. She can't relax. So she flips on the TV, hoping for an update on Libby. Just then, the news reports are coming out. Libby's been charged with one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and two counts of making false statements. Plame watches the TV, a special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald speaks from the White House press room podium. At the end of the day, what appears is that Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter, what he heard from another, was not true. It was false. He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter. And then he lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly. This Gerald finishes and next, President Bush makes an appearance. He announces that he's accepting Libby's resignation, then Bush walks away toward awaiting helicopter. Plame looks out one of her windows, which faces toward the White House, it's only about two miles away. She can almost feel the thumping of the blades whirling as she watches the helicopter rise toward the tree line and fly north toward her. She hears the chopper approaching, getting louder and louder. By the time Bush's helicopter passes over the house, it's like a jackhammer. Plame knows she should feel happy. Scooter Libby is facing major charges, but there's one thing missing. Libby hasn't been charged with blowing her cover. There's been no resolution, no accountability for the damage that she and Joe have faced. That leads her not depressed, not exhausted, but angry, and resolved to take action. She's not about to let the administration just bury her. She's not going down without a fight. She and Joe will find a way to strike back. This year, Prime members get holiday deals before anyone else, which means you're kind of a big deal. The Prime Early Access Sale on October 11th and 12, only for Prime members. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y Podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Follow the Generation Y Podcast on Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts. From Wondery, I'm Lindsey Graham, and this is American Scandal. The Bush administration built a case for taking the nation to war with Iraq, insisting that Saddam Hussein was working to build nuclear weapons. But that claim was met with stinging criticism. In a New York Times op-ed, Joe Wilson attacked the administration, challenging the intelligence it relied on to justify the war. For the White House, Wilson had made himself a problem. And soon, in what seemed to be a form of payback, officials leaked the identity of Wilson's wife, an undercover CIA agent named Valerie Plame. Now it's up to a special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to drill down to the truth and to charge any who have committed a crime no matter how powerful they may be. Plame and Wilson will also go on offense. They know that to escape this unending nightmare and to recover their lives, they will have to fight to get their day in court, and it looks like that day is coming. The investigation is moving higher up the food chain and narrowing in on the sources of the leak. This is episode three, just a served. It's January 2006. Valerie Plame sifted her amount of paperwork in her office at CIA headquarters. After a six-month leave of absence, she's returned to work, but in that time stacks of papers and unopened mail have piled up on her desk. She's gotten new assignments on the job, but none of them are covert. As Plame sifts through the paperwork, she is trouble-staying focused. Her mind keeps replaying all the ways politicians can interfere with intelligence gathering, interfere with the job she used to love. For Plame, it feels like too much has changed. The undercover work she has been trained to do, the work that she loved and dedicated herself to, it doesn't feel possible anymore. It's like a fire that's gone out. She can feel it. She's done with the CIA. She hands in her resignation, and even though it's her choice, she feels crushed. The agency was a part of her life, but she knows she has to move on. But to what? It's June 13th, 2006, and Patrick Fitzgerald is packing his briefcase. For the last two years, he's hardly spent any time at home in Chicago. A special investigation has all but taken up his whole life. He misses his own bed, but he knows it's still going to be a while before he leaves Washington. He's done with Scooter Libby until his trial comes up. Now he has to focus on Carl Rove. Rove is a cagey, long-time Bush advisor who helps shape the administration's case for war. For a long time, he's been high on Fitzgerald's list of potential leakers. Rove allegedly confirmed Plame's identity for columnist Robert Novak. Fitzgerald questions Rove to explain where he learned about Plame's identity, but Rove takes an age-old tactic. He says he can't remember. Fitzgerald wonders whether Rove is covering up the truth, but Rove testifies five times before a grand jury and ultimately Fitzgerald decides not to bring charges against him. The prosecutor knows this will not be a popular decision in literal circles, but from a legal standpoint, it's the right one to make, and with Rove off his plate, the investigation is finally over. But now he's got to refocus on Scooter Libby, whose trial is coming up in six months. Fitzgerald heads out into the human DC evening and hails a cab. He considers heading to a nearby tavern so he can reward himself with whiskey. It's tempting, but he decides against it, because he's got Scooter Libby in his sights, and he can't slow down now. It's late June 2006. Just days ago, Valerie Plame received the disappointing news that Carl Rove was off the hook. Now she and Joe Wilson have gotten more bad news. They're getting audited by the IRS. Plame is perplexed. Neither of them have ever been through an audit. So she calls their accountant. She gets to the point. Any idea why this is happening? None whatsoever. There's no reason for an audit. Nothing that would trigger one. Well it's definitely not a spike in our income. For Plame, this is a dark joke, because ever since they've been in the spotlight, Joe's consulting business has taken a huge hit, and without her paycheck from the CIA, your income is just a fraction of what it used to be. Valerie, I'm sorry, but have you considered? Considered what? Well, maybe you have some powerful enemies. Plame feels stunned as she hangs up. The IRS has been used as a weapon of vengeance before. President Nixon requested audits for some of his enemies. No, she thinks maybe this is just a coincidence. A short while later, something else happens though, and the audit starts to feel less of a coincidence. Plame is at her desk on the ground level of her home. She's concentrating, writing. And she hears a tap on the window. She looks up startled. It's the family's longtime gardener. He gestures for her to come out. Something out here you need to see Valerie. Plame furrows her brown, gets up. She heads out onto the deck. Take a look up there. Shielding her eyes against the sun, Plame cranes her neck and looks. Up above, the massive wooded deck is held to the side of the house by large, heavy bolts, or should be. The gardener keeps pointing. The bolts are missing. Plame looks back down toward the lawn. It's a 50-foot drop. Could they have fallen out? Valerie if they'd fallen out, they'd be on the lawn. They're not. This is insane. We rebuilt this deck just a year ago. Everything was fine. Yeah. All I can tell you is you better get those bolts replaced right away. And until then, stay off the deck. Plame calls the company that worked on the deck and they assure her the bolts were installed when they finished their work. Otherwise, it never would have passed inspection. A chill runs up her spine. She hangs up the phone and then she confronts a terrifying irony. When her cover was blown in 2003, she was worried that her family was at risk from Al Qaeda or some other international terrorist group. But now there's this unwarranted audit and the missing bolts which could plunge her family into a 50-foot drop. She stares back at the deck and worry begins to set in fully. It's not Al Qaeda she needs to worry about. The threat is coming from much closer to home. Her own government. It's July 14, 2006. And on this hot summer day, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson arrive at the National Press Club in downtown Washington there to make an announcement. They walk down the brass rail staircase to the lobby into the throng of frantic reporters and photographers. It's here they'll announce their fighting back. Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson are taking the Bush administration to court. They're suing Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, and Carl Rove. Their claim is that senior officials violated the couple's constitutional rights to free speech, due process and privacy, and that they discredit and claim by disclosing she was a CIA operative. It's a major press event because it's not every day that the vice president is named in a lawsuit. Plame is dressed in a pastel pantsuit with four strands of pearls around her neck. Plame collected, she steps up to the podium and begins her statement. I and my former CIA colleagues trusted our government to protect us as we did our jobs. That a few reckless individuals within the current administration betrayed that trust. Has been a grave disappointment to every patriotic American. Joe and I have filed this action with heavy hearts, but with a renewed sense of purpose. I would much rather be continuing my career as a public servant than be a plaintiff in a lawsuit. But I feel strongly and just as demands that those who acted so harmfully against our national security must answer for their shameful conduct in court. Plame knows she has a major fight ahead of her, but she's not going back down. Hello, I'm Florence Given, the best selling author of the book Women Don't Are You Pretty and Girlcrush and this is my podcast exactly. Join me as I connect with fascinating guests from authors, cultural commentators, doctors, thought leaders to psychologists, celebrities and comedians. And guess what? We're back to do it all again in season two with the likes of the holistic psychologist, Victoria Skohn and Iona David to name a few. In season two of exactly podcast out now, wherever you get your podcasts. It's January 23rd, 2007. Patrick Fitzgerald steps into a federal courthouse in downtown Washington, D.C. It's day one of Scooter Libby's trial and the building is already packed. Fitzgerald gazes at the throngs, reporters and bloggers who are here to write about the trial. Like a zoo, they're packed in so tight, those who can't fit are moved into an overflow room. Fitzgerald knew it would be a spectacle, but this, and it's not just reporters, people have waited in lines for hours to get passes to what seems like a national event, a trial in which a top White House official, the man closest to the vice president, could face severe punishment. Because in this trial, Scooter Libby faces up to 30 years in prison in $1.2 million in fines. Fitzgerald knows he has to make a compelling, forceful argument. And so in the courtroom, as the trial opens, he begins with a fiery opening statement. The evidence will show that the defendant learned that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA from the vice president himself, Fitzgerald says. He also talked with more than one reporter about Wilson's wife working at the CIA. When the FBI and the grand jury asked questions about what he did, the defendant lied. He made up a story. How did we get to the point where the chief of staff to the vice president of the United States is lying repeatedly to the FBI and to a grand jury? Well, that's the story of this case. Libby's lead attorney is Theodore Wells, a 57-year-old expert in criminal law. And Fitzgerald knows something of a shoman, which is clear as he serves up the main arguments of the defense. Libby is totally innocent, Wells says. He did not commit perjury. He did not commit obstruction of justice. He has been wrongly and unjustly and unfairly accused. He was concerned about being set up. He was concerned about being the scapegoat for this entire balleroy blame controversy. Wells harps on the scapegoat angle, saying that Libby went to the vice president and said, people in the White House are trying to sacrifice me. People in the White House are trying to protect a man named Carl Rove, the president's right-hand man. Fitzgerald watches as the defense tries to paint Libby as the victim of political infighting. It's a convenient story Fitzgerald thinks, but it's not going to stand up to the evidence. As the trial progresses, Plame feels like she's riding a rollercoaster up and down with each day's evidence and testimony. Plame is floored as White House spokesman Ari Fleischer testifies about his role in the controversy. Fleischer admits that Libby told him about Plame's CIA job. And this was just a day after Joe's op-ed was published in The New York Times. Fleischer then passed on this information to two reporters and said, if you want to know who sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger, it was his wife, she works at the CIA. Plame can't believe this recklessness. How were these two men so careless with her CIA status, she thinks? For God's sake, they signed oaths when they joined the government. They were sworn to protect national security. Fitzgerald asks Fleischer why he would give up Plame's cover to members of the media. Fleischer replies, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that that information was classified. This is unbelievable, Plame thinks. Treating such delicate information as just more juicy DC gossip and this guy works in the White House? Her mood brightens when a copy of Joe's op-ed is introduced. On it is something Dick Cheney scrolled to Libby. It says, have we done this sort of thing before? Send an Ambassador to answer a question? We ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us or did his wife send him on a junket. Plame is stunned that the Vice President, a man of decades of government experience, isn't familiar with his protocol. It's been in place for years. The CIA routinely sent citizens abroad for research purposes. After two weeks, the prosecution rests and Plame feels positive. Libby's defense seems like it's been crushed by all the witnesses and evidence. And finally she thinks she's going to get some justice. It's February 20th, 2007. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is sitting in the federal courtroom in Washington, DC, preparing for a big moment. Closing arguments are about to begin and Fitzgerald feels ready. He's about to make his case to the jury to show why Scooter Libby should be behind bars. For him, it's a slam dunk case, but Fitzgerald knows that he still has to overcome a big obstacle. Libby's attorney, Theodore Wells. Wells stands, turns to the jury of nine women and three men, and begins his plea. Libby gave his best good faith recollection. Any mistakes were innocent mistakes. He had no knowledge that Plame's job status was classified. He did not push reporters to write about Valerie Plame. He did not leak to Robert Novak. Fitzgerald refused to do so. He's an innocent person. Wells pauses for a moment. When he continues, he begins striding across the courtroom, speaking like a preacher. Treat him the way he deserves to be treated. He got up every morning and worked 12 hours a day to be a national security adviser for this country. This is a man with a wife, with two children. And nobody has come in here and said he has been a bad person, done anything wrong. He is a good person. He has been under my protection for the last month, I give him to you. I ask you at the end of the case, vote not guilty on each and every count. And give him back to me. Just give him back. And then the theatrics really begin. Wells gives a huge sob. Fitzgerald can't believe it. Wells staggers back to the defense table and he lays his head in his hands. He doesn't look up. So that's his strategy, Fitzgerald thinks. Game on. After a short break, Fitzgerald gets up like a live wire, more than ready to respond. All eyes and ears are on him as he locks eyes with the jurors. Reporters are eager and ready to see what comes next. Fitzgerald turns to Wells and Libby, sitting at the defense table. And then he roars. Madness. Out. Rages. There is talk about a cloud over the vice president. There is a cloud over the White House as to what happened. Don't you think the FBI, the grand jury, the American people are entitled to a straight answer? Libby obstructed justice. He stole the truth from the judicial system. When you return to that jury room, you delivery. Your verdict can give truth back. Please do. Fitzgerald finishes his closing arguments and takes a seat. And now it's time to wait. It's March 6th, 2007. And after 10 days of deliberation, the jury has come to a verdict. Valerie Flam is at home in front of the TV, feeling shaky and anxious. The evidence against Libby is overwhelming and his defense seemed weak. And though a guilty verdict would seem inevitable, she doesn't want to get her hopes up. On the screen, a cable reporter stands in the cold sunshine and announces the results of the trial. Plames sits rigid on the couch, barely breathing. The first count of obstruction of justice, guilty. Second count of perjury, guilty. Third count of making false statements, not guilty. Fourth count of perjury, guilty. Fifth count of making false statements, guilty. Play Mexiles. The world feels slow, simple and calm. And then all it wants her attention snaps back, she grabs her phone and calls Joe to tell him the news. He pauses. Valerie can tell it's sinking in. And then he breaks the silence. Thank God, he says. Plame watches on TV as Libby and his defense team emerge from the courthouse and into the blinding sunlight. Their expressions are grim. Good, she thinks. They should feel grim. This early in the morning on March 16, 2007. Plame leaves her Georgetown home and drives across DC to the US Capitol. The Libby verdict is still fresh news, and she's been asked to testify before a committee of the House of Representatives. Plame has spent her professional life avoiding the spotlight, so this isn't her comfort zone, but she's glad to tell her side of the story. Plame winds through the Capitol and heads toward a hearing room. Here she's instantly engulfed by friends, supporters, and congressional staffers. Everyone wishes her well. Everyone offers tidbits of advice. She smiles and nods, trying to focus on the testimony she's been preparing for days. Plame enters the massive room to a serenade of camera clicks and blinding flashes. The room is choked with journalists. She stands before the committee members in a sworn-in. And she sits at the broad table and draws the microphone in to speak. My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department. All of them understood that I worked for the CIA, and having signed oaths to protect national security secrets, they should have been diligent in protecting me and every CIA officer. We in the CIA always know that we might be exposed and threatened by foreign enemies. It was a terrible irony that administration officials were the ones who destroyed my cover. Mame has also asked about one of the main accusations that's haunted her. Did you make the decision to send Ambassador Wilson to Nigeria? No. I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him. There was no nepotism involved. I didn't have the authority. The session continues for two and a half hours. When it's over, Plame is exhausted, but she feels confident that she's accomplished her mission. She's begun to set the record straight, but there is more work to do. And Valerie knows that the next step, winning in court against the Bush administration, will be the biggest test of all. It's June 5th, 2007. It's a stifling hot morning at the Federal Court House in Washington, D.C. and already there's a crowd. The reporters, bloggers, photographers, spectators, they're showing up in droves because something big is about to happen. Lewis Scooter-Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, is receiving his prison sentence. It's a milestone for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. For the last two years, he's been investigating the leak of Valerie Plame's identity. He's had to work tirelessly, and he's had to make some hard decisions about who he's going to prosecute. Fitzgerald had investigated a number of suspects. Carl Rove, Richard Armitage, Robert Novak, and Dick Cheney. Evidence revealed that the Vice President and Scooter-Libby misled some of the President's senior officials all in an effort to keep Cheney's name clean. But after interviewing Cheney, Fitzgerald had decided Libby was his best bet. After all the testimonies, after a month-long trial, it's all come down to this morning when Scooter-Libby will get his sentence. Fitzgerald steps out of a cab, dressed in a seer-sucker suit in a sky blue tie. He walks towards the courthouse, thinking about how much time Libby should spend behind bars. Libby's defense team is asking for just probation. But Fitzgerald is disgusted by that. Libby has never actually admitted to any wrongdoing, never shown any remorse. Fitzgerald has decided he's asking for 30 to 37 months. He makes his way through the throng of press and into the courthouse, and there he meets with his team. Fitzgerald sees Libby shaking hands with his lead attorney Theodore Wells. Libby's putting on a cool game face, grinning and patting team members on the back. Fitzgerald has seen it all before, the false provotto, but he knows that's not enough to sway a judge, not nearly enough. And just then, US District Judge Reggie B. Walton enters, and Libby's attorney steps forward and offers his argument. In the White House administration, Mr. Libby was an island of virtue and good sense. Wells offers up letters from supporters, they include some of the biggest names in political history, people like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Wells continues, I submit there's no need to incarcerate. Public humiliation combined with exceptional public service to the nation would justify the court not to incarcerate. Wells finishes, and then it's Libby's turn. He rises and speaks flatly. My family and I appreciate the consideration shown to us during this conviction. In all that time, I have received nothing but kindness from the court's personnel, your honor staff, court administrators, US marshals, court security officers and probation officers. I am grateful. Now, I realize fully the court must decide on punishment. I hope the court will consider my whole life. Thank you, your honor. Fitzgerald shakes his head, still no remorse for apology. Well, now to his turn. He stands, looks at Judge Walton and begins. We need just to make the statement that truth matters ever so much. One station in life does not matter. Mr. Libby does not deserve special consideration because of the public service he has rendered or the high government positions he attained. Fitzgerald finishes his speech and sits, and then everyone waits for the judge who looks around the room and clears his throat to speak. I think the investigation that was embarked upon in this case was extremely serious. And the conduct that Mr. Libby has been convicted of that impeded the investigation is serious behavior. There has to be a sentence that promotes respect for the law. And individuals have to understand that when you transgress the law, there are consequences for that. Fitzgerald swallows hard and waits. Fitzgerald steps out of the courthouse and back into the human DC air. He's immediately hounded by reporters with cameras rolling. They pepper him with questions. But Fitzgerald doesn't say a word. He doesn't need to because Judge Walton's sentence speaks for itself and soon the world will know about his victory in court. Today in a Washington courtroom, Judge Reggie Walton threw the book at Lewis Scooter Libby. He sentenced the former Top A to Vice President Cheney to 30 months in prison. Scooter Libby became the highest ranking White House official to be convicted in 20 years. And the American people were reminded that even people in power, people with friends and high places, even they are not above the law. Fitzgerald heads away from the courthouse, exhausted but satisfied. Once again, justice has prevailed. For Valerie Plame, justice seems to be missing. It's July 19th, 2007, and a federal judge has just dismissed her and Joe Wilson's civil suit against senior members of the Bush administration. According to the judge, defendants can't be held liable for the leaks since passing on such information as part of the official's basic duties. The judge's decision did not break the way Plame had hoped, but it also has not broken her. She feels resolved. She won't just roll over for Washington Power Brokers. She has a new plan, one that will be on her own terms. Three years later, in November of 2010, Valerie is happily ensconced in the Santa Fe, New Mexico ranch she shares with Joe, a world away from her life in Washington. The legal system did not deliver the outcome she wanted, and she suffered another setback when President Bush commuted Scooter Libby's sentence, sparing him from 30 months in prison. But she knows her story isn't over, and she puts pen to paper, writing fair game, an autobiography that earns her a seven-figure paycheck and attracts Hollywood filmmakers to her doorstep. The CIA barred Plame from collaborating with screenwriters about recovered activities, but that turns out to be merely a speed bump since Plame gets to see her story receive renewed attention. In the film, Sean Penn plays Wilson, and Naomi Watts plays Plame in a story that tracks their fight for the truth against the Bush administration. It's a message that gets amplified in press interviews, including one that Wilson gives with Movie Web. Well, I actually think the strength of our Republic depends on citizens exercising their responsibilities as citizens to hold their governments so count for what a government has and says in the name of the people. And nowhere, and no time, is it more important than when your government is contemplating something sending our fellow citizens off to kill and to die in our name. I've never had a second thought about whether it was appropriate to write that article or not. I've had lots of thoughts about why my government and the Bush administration decided they were just going to continue to lie to the American people until I wrote that article. It's April 13, 2018. Plame wakes up to a lovely Santa face sunrise. She makes coffee and fires up her computer, and she checks the New York Times website, spotting a story that would be the final chapter in the leak saga that began 15 years ago. President Donald Trump has granted a full pardon to Scooter Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the leak case in 2007. In the article, Trump is quoted, I don't know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life. It's a last, bitter twist in the drama that turned her existence upside down, but she feels that there's an overwhelming subtext to the president's action and feels much too familiar to her. Five days later, Plame appears on NBC News to explain her thoughts. This is definitely not about me. It's absolutely not about Scooter Libby. It's about Donald Trump and his future. It's very clear that this is a message he's sending that you can commit crimes against national security and you will be pardoned. It's now May 9, 2019. After 12 years of living in New Mexico, Plame has decided to give up her soccer mom status and long sought privacy. She announces that she's running for New Mexico's third congressional district as a Democrat. Plame tells the press that the focus of her campaign will be health care issues and she reveals something else. After almost two decades of marriage, she and Joe Wilson had a quiet, unpublicized divorce in 2017. If she wins, she'll be able to give back to the state she knows and loves because she knows the ins and outs in Washington and figures her notoriety will bolster her run. That notoriety is highlighted in her campaign video, which plays heavily on her CIA cloaked and dagger passed. It features her in a black Chevy muscle car on a dirt road in the New Mexico desert driving a top speed backwards. I was an undercover CIA operative. My assignment was preventing rogue states and terrorists from getting nuclear weapons. You name a hotspot? I lived it. We need to turn our country around. Yes, the CIA really does teach us how to drive like this. Joe Wilson died in September 2019. He took many hits over the course of the leak scandal. Some saw him as a patriotic whistleblower. Others viewed him as responsible in part for his white-blown CIA cover. Opinions are equally varied on the guilt of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, and other top administration officials. Did they lead the country into war with Iraq with twisted and false information, or did they do what needed to be done to fight a war on terrorism? The Valerie Plain affair began with a leak, but ultimately it was a controversy about political power and the struggles that Americans can face when they challenged that power. Valerie Plain was a devoted servant of the CIA. An organization founded on protecting the safety of America, but her own safety was betrayed when her cover was blown. In the wake of the scandal, she became collateral damage, thrust into a position she did not deserve, and certainly did not want, on the nation's march to war. Next on American scandal, we speak with journalist Matthew Cooper. In 2003, he was the White House correspondent for Time Magazine, covering a claim affair. He became part of the story in 2004, when he was held in contempt of court for refusing to name the sources who had disclosed Valerie Plain's identity to him, setting off a debate about the role of journalists in protecting their sources. From wondering, this is American scandal. Just a quick note about our reenactments. We can't always know exactly what was said, but everything in our show is based on historical research. American scandal is hosted, edited, and executive produced by me, Lindsay Graham, for airship, Sound Design by Derek Barons. This episode is written by Peter Kielstrap. Our senior producer and editor is Karen Lo, produced by Gabe Riven. Our executive producers are Stephanie Gens, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and her non-lopes for wondering.