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Cannes Goes Covert
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It is not often that I read the Wash Post style section, but I was drawn to a review of the Cannes premier of a film about Carlos the Jackal. The Cannes coverage also included an extensive account of “Fair Game,” about outed ex-CIA officer Valerie Plame. Actress Naomi Watts gave birth shortly before she played Plame. When she agreed to do the film the director told her “Okay, get yourself into boot camp and toughen up, lady.” Per the Post, “Watts went to the Farm, the Virginia facility where CIA recruits undergo grueling physical training, and where she learned from her superiors to say ‘ow’ only if she had to go to the hospital.” Watts enthused “It was a fascinating two-day period. How many people can say they have breast fed while packing a weapon.”

I said “ow” after I read the review. Omigod. Boot camp? Two days? Grueling? While breast feeding? When last I checked the Farm was a completely classified facility whose name cannot even be invoked without inviting the wrath of Jehovah so how did Hollywood get invited in? Did Watts close her eyes as they drove her through the gate so she couldn’t see what the place was called? Is this the secret story behind why Dennis Blair had to resign?

CIA officer training takes about six months and the paramilitary phase is a couple of weeks. I suspect Watts went through part of what used to be described as the crash-and-bang course where you learn how to fire some weapons and drive clunkers into each other to simulate going through a roadblock. I find it odd that the government should waste taxpayer provided resources to help Hollywood in this kind of silliness. It’s not like Watts went through enough real training to help her understand what CIA is all about, so what was the point? Just fodder for some banal lines to feed to a newspaper to make the movie appear authentic and some positive PR for the Agency.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: CIA 
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  1. I’m really confused by your disdain. Are you mad at the CIA for allowing “Hollywood” onto their training facility? Are you mad at Hollywood for invading military society (which they’ve done for decades, with the military and government happily cooperating)? Are you mad because you think she got training for free? Because you don’t have to be mad about that. Film crews pay handily for land use. And I’m sure there are a few highly paid Govt experts on the set as advisors.
    And what do you have against breast feeding??

  2. TomT says:

    Some mysterious agency sent Plame’s husband to Africa on a “let’s damage the US government during wartime” mission, and he told the news media that “Dick Cheney” sent him, to gather data to be used to badmouth Bush.

    So when the reporters “discover” that Plame works for that mysterious agency, even though she’s completely clueless as to who sent her husband to gather dirt on her and her husband’s political enemy, we have a fullblown Bush Conspiracy.

    It is painful to see a thinking person use the term “outed ex-CIA officer”.

  3. tbraton says:

    “Is this the secret story behind why Dennis Blair had to resign?”

    Does the DNI actually have authority under the law to permit access to a CIA facility? I really don’t know, but I suspect not since the job of the DNI is to coordinate intelligence gathering among the several agencies assigned to collecting it.

    And, to repeat the question of the poster above, what do you have against breast feeding? Hasn’t the CIA been gorging on the federal tit for decades?

  4. Lighten up guys. It’s all about airheaded comments by an actress relating to a movie that will hopefully die upon release. Dennis Blair apparently had to ask permission to go to the bathroom but that’s another story. For the record, I think that breast feeding is just fine and the CIA budget is about twice as high as it should be. What’s wrong with outed ex-CIA. She’s ex and was outed… Would you rather be arguing about Rand Paul’s views on segregated lunch counters?

  5. I once found a “classified” manual on OSS training at the Brynn Mawr book sale! Behind the lines lactation was not covered as memory serves, but those were simpler times.

    Perhaps the old guys at the Spy Museum set up some ersatz training in the Catskills? Come to think of it, this could be a money maker. Teaching people to swim creeks with their radios out of water could become all the rage. I met a KGB guy once who could bend dimes with his teeth….I’d pay to learn that one.

  6. tbraton says:

    “For the record, I think that breast feeding is just fine”

    Whew! That’s a relief.

  7. The problem is that Hollywood and TV impressarios have been clueless over two generations about what should be the qualities most prized in CIA officers and FBI agents, starting with good judgement. It is no wonder that there is a moronocracy out here that gets itself off on guided tours of Potemkin Village. Small wonder as well that the moronocracy would include such unworthy notables as Dick Cheney, erstwhile promoter of the unvirtuous pleasures, or is it unpleasurable virtues, of torture. Dick no doubt thought it was all over in an hour, with excellent results.

  8. Dennis Dale says: • Website

    Naomi Watts’ paramilitary training is every bit as impressive as Elvis’ black belt.

  9. gcochran says:

    A friend of mine, pretty knowledgeable on nuclear weapons, read Plame’s book. In his opinion, she had no business working proliferation, since she didn’t know jack about the subject.

    But I don’t believe that makes her atypical. Judging from results, the agency didn’t have _anybody_ who knew enough to make a decent nuclear capability estimate for Iraq – or if someone did, nobody paid them any mind. Of course paying attention to anyone with technical insight would not have been a career-enhancing move, since the Bush Administration, surely the most gormless crew we’ve ever had in high office – clearly wanted to hear about the Iraq nuclear threat whether it existed or not.

    Obviously there were plenty of people at the national labs who could have done this job right, but Bush’s people took the word of some weenie in personnel over mere physicists – as long the weenie told them what they wanted to hear.

    But I suppose I shouldn’t be pointing out the emperor is naked and has no dick – after all, we’re in a ‘time of war’, and Presidents have a _right_ to ruin the country. It’s in those emanations and penumbras, I think.

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