CIA spy whose cover was blown by Bush administration warns Trump over chilling effect of outing whistleblower

Former CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband Joseph Wilson leave a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington in July 2006. - REUTERS
Former CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband Joseph Wilson leave a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington in July 2006. - REUTERS

The whistle blower who sparked Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry will have his life turned upside down when his identity is inevitably revealed, according to a former CIA agent.

Valerie Plame, who was forced to quit her undercover role when her name was leaked by US government officials in 2003, said her "heart goes out" to the CIA operative who raised concerns about a phone call between the US president and his Ukrainian counterpart.

In his complaint, the unnamed whistleblower said multiple officials on the call had raised concerns that Mr Trump had pressured a foreign government to interfere in US elections.

Since then a second individual, who has also chosen to remain anonymous, has come forward claiming to have first hand knowledge of the allegations outlined in the original complaint.

Mr Trump has rebuffed the claims, launching a counter-attack on the original whistleblower, who he claims is politically motivated.

With so much scrutiny upon him, Ms Plame told The Telegraph: "This person's life has changed forever; I think it's only a matter of time before we know his identity".

Once that happens, she added: "The partisan machines will get cranked up and he will read about this person he doesn't recognise." She warned his entire life will be raked over, even down to "what kind of salad dressing" he uses.

Ms Plame is perhaps uniquely qualified to comment; she was working as a covert agent her own cover was blown by officials in George W Bush's administration during the lead-up to the Iraq war.

The move was seen as retaliation for an op-ed written by her then-husband and former diplomat, Joseph Wilson, casting doubt on the Bush administration’s rationale for going to war with Iraq.

The "Plame affair", as it came to be known, rocked the Bush administration and led to a federal investigation and a senior White House official's conviction.

Ms Plame chose to leave Washington soon afterwards. But now she is plotting a return to the US capital as she vies to represent New Mexico's 3rd congressional district in the House of Representatives.

She has already created a buzz with a fiery campaign video taking aim at those she holds responsible for her own unmasking - as well as Mr Trump.

In her first interview with a British newspaper, Ms Plame described the experience as akin to being "punched in the gut".

"I was concerned on so many levels," she said, describing the scrutiny that fell on everyone with whom she had ever interacted in the course of her covert work.

"And of course there's a personal threat, and my children were very small and I was very worried about their physical security."

She added: "You can't go to the grocery store without people looking at you sideways. I found it very disconcerting for many years to go from real anonymity to being such a public person literally overnight and I hope it doesn't happen in this case - but it doesn't seem likely."

The Democrat warned the unmasking of whistleblowers will have a "chilling effect" on others, saying her former CIA colleagues already feel under assault by the president's slurs against the US intelligence community.

Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame in the film Fair Game

"There's a sense of unease and it's certainly clear that President Trump does not hold the intelligence community in esteem, to the contrary he demeans them on a regular basis. It's upsetting and I know many of my former colleagues feel the same," she said.

She believes that under Mr Trump's presidency, America's "credibility and standing in the world has suffered" and said she was driven to run for Congress by a desire use her "interesting" backstory as a platform "to effect positive change".

She is focusing her campaign on education, economic opportunity and the environment, the three concerns she says are most often raised on the doorstep in New Mexico.

She also has some advice for the, as yet, unnamed whistleblower: "hold your friends and family close".

"It appears [his decision to come forward] was not a whimsical, arbitrary decision, he gave it some thought. Nevertheless no one has any idea how it's going to unfold - no one ever does."