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True Lies

The 'Washington Post' sets the record straight on 'Fair Game.'

12:20 PM, Dec 6, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Certainly an argument can be made that considering the movie Fair Game has already become an afterthought, having grossed a mere $7.4 million domestically, why bother giving it more attention? On the other hand, if the movie's hero, former diplomat Joe Wilson, is right, and "for people who have short memories or don't read, this is the only way they will remember that period," then it is a good thing the Washington Post decided to set the record straight:

"Fair Game," based on books by Mr. Wilson and his wife, is full of distortions—not to mention outright inventions. To start with the most sensational: The movie portrays Ms. Plame as having cultivated a group of Iraqi scientists and arranged for them to leave the country, and it suggests that once her cover was blown, the operation was aborted and the scientists were abandoned. This is simply false. In reality, as The Post's Walter Pincus and Richard Leiby reported, Ms. Plame did not work directly on the program, and it was not shut down because of her identification.

What's more,

The movie portrays Mr. Wilson as a whistle-blower who debunked a Bush administration claim that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country of Niger. In fact, an investigation by the Senate intelligence committee found that Mr. Wilson's reporting did not affect the intelligence community's view on the matter, and an official British investigation found that President George W. Bush's statement in a State of the Union address that Britain believed that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger was well-founded.

"Fair Game" also resells the couple's story that Ms. Plame's exposure was the result of a White House conspiracy. A lengthy and wasteful investigation by a special prosecutor found no such conspiracy—but it did confirm that the prime source of a newspaper column identifying Ms. Plame was a State Department official, not a White House political operative.

And somehow that State Department official—Richard Armitage—does not make an appearance in the film. (Maybe because the only person who could have played him was Rod Steiger.) This all points to a greater concern, that "the film's reception illustrates a more troubling trend of political debates in Washington in which established facts are willfully ignored. Mr. Wilson claimed that he had proved that Mr. Bush deliberately twisted the truth about Iraq, and he was eagerly embraced by those who insist the former president lied the country into a war. Though it was long ago established that Mr. Wilson himself was not telling the truth—not about his mission to Niger and not about his wife—the myth endures."

Is the movie a spine-tingling thriller? Undoubtedly—after all, the director is Doug Liman of Bourne Identity fame. But I haven't seen Fair Game and have no plans to. (So how can I even criticize something I haven't seen? I'm reminded of the time when David Letterman asked Senator John McCain how he could trash Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 without having seen it. Replied McCain, "I haven't seen Catwoman either.")

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