New York Times, October 2, 2003
By DOUGLAS JEHL and DAVID STOUT
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 Valerie Plame was among the small subset of Central Intelligence Agency officers who could not disguise their profession by telling friends that they worked for the United States government.
That cover story, standard for American operatives who pretend to be diplomats or other federal employees, was not an option for Ms. Plame, people who knew her said on Wednesday. As a covert operative who specialized in nonconventional weapons and sometimes worked abroad, she passed herself off as a private energy expert, what the agency calls nonofficial cover.
But that changed over the summer, when her identity as a C.I.A. officer was reported in a syndicated column by Robert Novak.
Ms. Plame's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a retired ambassador, has accused the White House of releasing her name as a way of discrediting Mr. Wilson after he had questioned intelligence reports that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger.
Mr. Wilson, who is 53 and was married twice before, met Ms. Plame, 40, in early 1997 at a party in Washington, he said on Wednesday in an interview in his office. A telephone message left at their house here was unanswered, and Mr. Wilson said his wife had instructed him to say that she would "chew off her right arm off before she talked to anybody from the press."
Mr. Wilson proudly showed off photographs of Ms. Plame, calling her a real-life Jennifer Garner, the actress who plays a spy on "Alias" on ABC-TV and whom the C.I.A. has enlisted as a spokeswoman to appeal to recruits.
Mr. Wilson would not allow publication of the photographs and asked visitors to protect the privacy of their 3-year-old twins.
"In her business, people get very good about sticking to their story," said Mr. Wilson, who has told friends that when they were dating Ms. Plame told him about her true vocation only because he, too, had a high-level secrecy clearance, as a political adviser to the American general who was commanding United States forces in Europe.
With that story in tatters, Mr. Wilson said, "we were at a reception the other night, and all people wanted to talk about was her clandestine career."
"Basically," he said, "her comment was, 'That's not something I discuss, even at work.' But it's been difficult. You have to go back and say to people that, 'Well, all those years that you thought of me as an energy analyst, I was really something else.' You have to build back the trust."
A neighbor of the couple, David Tillotson [4606 Charleston Terrace NW, Washington DC; (202) 333-6752], said on Wednesday that the news about Ms. Plame, although "an absolute shock," did not change his feelings about her and Mr. Wilson. [Tillotson information by Cryptome, from http://www.infousa.com]
"They are the salt of the earth," Mr. Tillotson, a lawyer, said. "They're some of the finest people I've ever known in my life."
For the six years that they have been neighbors, Mr. Tillotson and his wife, Victoria, knew Mr. Wilson and Ms. Plame from pleasant dinners in each other's houses.
The talk was occasionally about politics, but far more often about "kids and life and gardens," as Mr. Tillotson put it.
People close to Ms. Plame said on Wednesday that she was born in Anchorage while her father, Lt. Col. Sam Plame of the Air Force, was stationed there.
Colonel Plame and his wife, Diane, also had a son, Robert, who is older than Valerie Plame and lives in Oregon.
Colonel Plame and his family moved to the lower 48 in time for Ms. Plame to graduate from Lower Moreland High School in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., near Philadelphia. She studied foreign relations at the University of Pennsylvania and then received master's degrees, one from the London School of Economics and another in international relations in the Netherlands, people close to her said.
Ms. Plame was married just after finishing her studies, but that ended in a year. She then worked in a department store before going into government work and what would be, until recently, a life under cover.
In recent years, her life has been divided. Friends said she had worked as a volunteer counselor for postpartum depression while seeing to her "regular" job at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va.
Mr. Wilson said on Wednesday, "Her career as a clandestine officer is over."
DIANE E PLAME, 74, 2078 WALLER DR HUNTINGDON VALLEY, PA 19006 (215) 9471373
SAMUEL D PLAME, 83
ROBERT M PLAME - - PORTLAND OR 97223 (503) 6390252
ROBERT PLAME - - PORTLAND OR 97223 (503) 9686745
ROBERT M PLAME, 56, 7931 SW CRICKHOLLOW CT, PORTLAND OR 97224 (503) 6390252
ROBERT M PLAME, 56, 7945 SW MOHAWK ST, TUALATIN, OR 97062 UNLISTED