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CNN Larry King Live

Fires Devastate Southern California; Interview With Valerie Plame Wilson

Aired October 22, 2007 - 21:00   ET


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: It's is a tragic time for California.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, firestorms -- Southern California is an enraging inferno. Erratic winds and bone dry brush are fueling ever spreading wildfires. They've already devoured 200,000 acres and threaten to incinerate even more. From San Diego to Malibu and points east, a shroud of smoke, flames and fear has driven at least a quarter of a million people from their homes. One death is blamed on the blazes. Hundred of houses are gone. Damage estimates already in the billions. We'll take you to the front lines with those in the disaster zone, which is ballooning by the hour.

Then, a former spy is getting even. Valerie Plame Wilson sounds off on the scandal that blew her cover as a secret agent. Betrayed and deceived and exposed, she claims. And now she turns the tables on all of the president's men. Plame Wilson settles scores.

It's her first live prime-time interview and it's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

As they say in the business, what a day.

We'll be hopscotching around this story, so rather than introduce panels to you, we'll be going person to person as events develop.

Let's check in with Dan Simon, our CNN correspondent, in Rancho Bernardo, California.

A lot -- 250,000 evacuated there-- Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really hard to believe, Larry. Yes, 250,000 people have been evacuated. People here have really heeded the warnings. Everywhere you go in San Diego, it looks like a ghost town. They've actually opened up Qualcomm Stadium as place for evacuees to go. That, of course, is where the San Diego Chargers play their home football games.

Larry, on this one block, this one block that we've been standing in all day, about 12 homes are completely leveled. Check this out. You've one home right here completely gone. Another home right next to it, totally gone. What's incredible, Larry, is, you know, the flying embers come in and they cause these homes to catch fire. It's such a random event, because look across the street. These homes are perfectly intact. And when you go into the various neighborhoods here in San Diego, we see things just like that. We see, you know, several homes that have been leveled and then a couple of other homes that look just fine.

KING: Oh, my.

SIMON: It's just so random.

KING: Are things quiet now?

SIMON: Actually, for the very first time today, the winds have really calmed down. But in terms of the activity, we're not really seeing any helicopters in the sky, are not hearing any fire trucks come by us, not seeing much activity. I have to tell you right now, it feels kind of eerie because there's been so much activity over the past couple of hours. Now it just seems so calm.

KING: Stay with us, Dan.

We'll be checking right back with you.

Let's go on the phone to Larry Himmel of KFBM Radio.

As it understand, Larry, you lost your home today?

Larry, can you hear me?


Can you hear me, Larry?

KING: I do.

You lost your home today?

KIMMEL: I'm actually standing in my driveway. And behind me is what is left of the smoldering rubble of my home. Yesterday I was out covering the fires east of here, about 10 miles, and came home last night, woke up this morning about 5:00 a.m. To the unmistakable smell in the air when you know something is close. I got my family out of here, got them out of harm's way, came back with a photographer in time to stand here and watch it burn down in the middle of a live shot.

KING: Where do you live, Larry?

KIMMEL: I live in the area called Rancho Bernardo. For folks who are familiar with the San Diego area, I am west of the I-15 Freeway. And to the west of us is the exclusive area of Rancho Santa Fe. So, it's like halfway between Rancho Santa Fe and Rancho Bernardo. And it is a hillside where people have a couple of acres of land and they have the horsey country. And below us is the new McMansions and the suburbs that have moved in over the years. But I've lived out here for 25 years in this home, raised my son in this home, stood in this driveway and threw baseballs to him when he learned how to play baseball and walked in the house and kissed my wife hello every night. And now this is it.

KING: What -- what was that like, to cover your own peril?

KIMMEL: Well, you know, it's almost better to know than not to know. And I know there are a lot of people that are stuck away from their homes, unaware of whether they're burned or not. I had the credentials and obviously was in a news van, so I could get to access places that other people couldn't. So I used my press credential and the fire -- I saw a fire truck coming down my hill as I was coming up. And he said, "Do you really want to go up there?"

And they were turning away because it was impossible to get near it. And I said, "I do. I do want to get up there. I do want to see it."

So I watched it burn. And at least I know my fate.

KING: Yes.

Hang with us, Larry.

We'll try to come back to you.

Let's go check into -- in Malibu itself, with Ted Rowlands, our CNN correspondent.

Is that where all of this started -- Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, that -- this is where the first fire started, Larry. But there are a number of fires, obviously, around the region here. This fire started Sunday, downed power lines because of the intense winds. And these winds are up again tonight here in Malibu. It was a tough day, where the winds were changing direction. People thought they were in the clear and then, boom, they had to be evacuated. They were grabbing what they could -- mainly just pets and valuables -- and getting out.

And tonight firefighters are still dealing with these changing winds, which we're seeing across Southern California. The homes lost here. In Lake Arrowhead, they've lost over 150 homes. I talked to Dan Simon. They've lost homes in San Diego. It is a mess because of these winds and these conditions, Larry. And a lot of people are on pins and needles, hoping that their homes can be saved.

KING: Hang with us, Ted.

We'll be going back to you frequently.

As the fire raised, by the way, in the Malibu area, we sent our King Cam crew to the front lines. Take a look at some of the sights and sounds that our cameras caught.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not sure if our house has burned down or not. My husband is down there and I really hope it's not. But I think that the house next door is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the scariest for me. It's just so thick -- just, all of a sudden it just -- right in the back, I can just see (INAUDIBLE) sit inside the restaurant, you can see the fire just right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday we watched the fires come over the hill back here. And they've just slowly come back this way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All night long...


KING: Let's check in with famed country star Tanya Tucker.

She is in Las Vegas.

And in Los Angeles is her daughter, Presley.

Tanya, what -- your home in Malibu, what happened to it?

TANYA TUCKER, MALIBU RESIDENT, FORCED TO EVACUATE, COUNTRY MUSIC STAR, HOME THREATENED: Well, it actually is OK, from what I hear. I keep getting updates from my film crew back in L.A. Jonathan and the guys are giving me updates from hour to hour. But it did start burning the guest house. And they were making sort of a hub -- the firefighters were -- out of my home and staying there and putting water -- you know, the water was coming from the helicopters and they were trying to wet it down and get it prepared, because my home is up on Carbon Mesa Road. So it was just right in the line of fire. So they -- from what I hear, they've managed to save it.

KING: Now, Presley, were you in the house?

PRESLEY TUCKER, TANYA'S DAUGHTER & MALIBU RESIDENT, HOME THREATENED: I was. I was in the house. My friend Laura got the phone call about 8:45, woke me up. It was just -- everything went frantic from then on. So I didn't really -- I've never been in this kind of situation. So I was kind of moving a little slow. And it didn't really hit me until we got out of there. We got out there about 9:15. And they said if the winds hadn't have changed, the house would have been gone by 9:30. So we were pretty lucky.

KING: Yes.

Did you have -- did you get some animals out, too?

P. TUCKER: Yes, we got all of our animals out. We have two big dogs and we have our two little Chihuahuas. And we got some things -- some memorabilia, a little bit as we could. And we got us out of there, at least.

KING: Wow!

You're very lucky.

Thanks -- thanks so much, Presley.

P. TUCKER: Thank you.

KING: Tanya will remain with us.

We'll check back with others, as well, as we continue our massive coverage of this massive outbreak of wind and fire.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back.

Let's go up in the sky over Stevenson Ranch, California.

Willa Sandmeyer is a reporter for Los Angeles's CNN affiliate, KTLA TV.

What do you see now -- Willa?


Well, we, as you mentioned, are over the Stevenson Ranch. We're going to take the shot right outside. And this was a fire that earlier this afternoon was causing a lot of concern to residents. The flames had been burning right up near some homes. There's quite a development just east of these flames.

But the encouraging news, Larry, is that the wind began pushing these flames away from the neighborhood, pushing them more in the direction of the brush, in a more westerly direction.

There is some good news this evening. The winds up here aren't quite as strong as they were yesterday. I will tell you that I spent about 12 hours in the air yesterday reporting on the various different fires that we have burning here in Southern California. At times, Larry, we were buffeted by wind gusts of up to 80 miles an hour. And the winds up here had been blowing steadily at around 55 to 65.

Tonight, our pilot tell us the winds are only about 25 miles an hour. That may sound strong, but it's way better than 55 to 65 miles an hour.

And, Larry, it's just so hard sometimes to comprehend that tonight 14 different fires burning here in Southern California and 265,000 people under an evacuation order.

KING: Willa, I thought that you can't fly a helicopter with that kind of wind. SANDMEYER: Well, actually, our pilots can fly in that type of wind. In fact, helicopters are uniquely qualified to be able to fly in winds because we're able to adjust with it. In fact, I was talking about the pilot with that last -- about that last night. I'm talking gusts of 80 miles an hour, not sustained winds of 80 miles an hour.

KING: Thanks, Willa.

Tanya, why do you live in Malibu?

T. TUCKER: Well, actually, I moved out there with my two daughters, Layla, my 8-year-old and, of course, Presley. And they have an agent that -- they're going to start working in film -- in the film business.

KING: I know, but...

T. TUCKER: And they're working under acting coaches.

KING: But why Malibu, which can be a dangerous area, as we've seen?

T. TUCKER: Well, we thought -- I thought, you know, if we're going to live in California, we might as well live where we like, and that's by the ocean. And, you know, I lived in California back in the '80s. And I've always wanted to live out in Malibu. I've always loved that area, even with all its problems. It's always been a great place to be. And I thought the girls would love it there. And we did love it there.

KING: Obviously...

T. TUCKER: You know, it's been a great -- a great experience. But this has just been a nightmare in the last few days. I feel like I'm so far removed. I mean I am in Las Vegas. Presley's in L.A., in Malibu. And then my son right now is in San Diego, who I'm very worried about.

KING: Yes.

T. TUCKER: And I don't know what's going to happen there.

KING: Boy.

We'll be checking right back with you, Tanya.

Chuck Maner is in San Diego.

He's assistant regional chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Have you ever seen anything like this?

CHUCK MANER, ASSISTANT REGIONAL CHIEF, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT FORESTRY AND FIRE PROTECTION: Well, Larry, I was here during the 2003 fire siege, where things happened a lot quicker and we lost quite a few homes. But it was a little more compacted into one area. Here we have fires throughout the county, from the north to the border. And it's a little more spread out and a little more into the different urban areas. That makes it a little more difficult.

KING: Now, do you cross over as a state division with local people?

MANER: Yes. We cooperate -- the fires no know no boundaries and we work together as if there's no boundaries. Federal agencies, state and local agencies are all working together on this, regardless of whose jurisdiction it is -- working together in what we call unified command.

KING: The key for you is, what, reduction of wind?

MANER: What will be key to us to being successful on this will be the weather change -- the wind dropping off and allowing us to get a little more aggressive with the fire and safely attacking the fire and containing it, yes.

KING: In Malibu is John Hildebrand.

He's a freelance photographer, a longtime resident of Malibu. John has helped fight the Malibu fire. Several friends of John's lost homes.

What's it like now, John?



What's it like now?

HILDEBRAND: Right now, it's a little calm. But we're a little worried when -- when it gets dark, because none of the choppers are going to be able to fly, and that's when the fire is going to start flaring up again.

KING: I'm sorry, John, I didn't hear...

HILDEBRAND: In fact, it's really windy right now.

KING: ...what you said.


HILDEBRAND: Can you hear me?

KING: Yes, now, I hear you.

You've been...

HILDEBRAND: Sorry about...

KING: Have you been taking pictures during this?

HILDEBRAND: Yes. We've been -- a lot of our friends' houses have been really close to have been burning down. So we've been trying to help their houses and taking photos of them spraying the hoses around the houses and whatnot -- trying to do whatever we can to save it, but get some good photos at the same time.

KING: Do you question why you live there when something like this happens?

HILDEBRAND: I never question why I live in Malibu. I mean, if you live here, you understand you just have to -- to deal with the fires and the mudslides. And it's worth living here for sure, no question.

KING: Have you talked to your friends that have lost homes?

HILDEBRAND: Yes, quite a few of the friends I've talked to was pretty close to losing homes. They're all out of Malibu right now, living in hotels and stuff right now, and friends' houses.

KING: But they'll probably go back, right?

HILDEBRAND: Yes. They're definitely going to come back and rebuild and go back to their houses and try to (AUDIO GAP) Malibu.

KING: Thanks, John.

HILDEBRAND: You're welcome.

KING: We'll be right back with more of this coverage of this extraordinary event.

And still to come is Valerie Plame Wilson. And the author -- she's the author of the book "Fair Game."

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you can see the -- excuse me. The flames are starting to build up and you can see the smoke coming over. And all last night it was really smoky, so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Doug just leant this to me because yesterday it was so bad down here that I started to get faint at one point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always tell the firemen I hate to see them, but we sure love them being here, you know?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we -- they really do take good care of us. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we ought to have the effort of the firefighters. I love you, firefighters.

Thank you so much.



KING: Again, aerial views as taken from our expert helicopter above the scenes in Southern California and surrounding areas. This is just a little north of San Diego.

Mike Corona is the Orange County sheriff.

How is your county affected, Mike?


KING: And, by the way, good to see you again.

CARONA: Good to see you again, Larry.

The county has been heavily impacted by these fires. We have three fires that were started about 5:00 yesterday afternoon. They burned over 15,000 acres. By the grace of God, we don't have any facilities that have been burned out yet, mostly because the fire authority has done a good job of convincing people to clear the brush away from their buildings. But we're still dealing with massive fires, about 30 percent contained, looking at impinging on some large communities in the southern western portion of Orange County.

KING: Does everyone come off duty for something like this?

CARONA: Everybody is off duty. We have a lot of resources deployed. Last night, we were putting reserve forces in (AUDIO GAP).

KING: Can you hear me?

CARONA: I can hear you, Larry.

Somebody just came over top of you.


CARONA: Yes, we put a lot of reserves out there. We put a lot of deputy sheriffs, a lot of police officers, a lot of firefighters, the Orange County Fire Authority and Chief Chip Prather have been doing a phenomenal job. But it's -- everybody comes on duty and everybody starts working.

KING: Mike Freeman, the L.A. County fire chief, what can you tell us is the latest from your perspective?

P. MICHAEL FREEMAN, FIRE CHIEF, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: OK, Larry, good evening. We're doing very well out here on this Malibu fire. Over 3,000 acres involved. We're continuing to work on some hot spots on the southeast portion of this fire. The winds are still blowing very hard out here, as you can probably see. We've got 1,450 firefighters working to continue to protect structures and to do all we can to keep this fire from spreading.

KING: What's the toughest part in fighting it?

FREEMAN: The toughest part right now for us is the strong and erratic winds, accompanied by the very low humidities. Today our humidities are about 6 percent. We also have in this area a very steep terrain and thousands of homes interspersed throughout these hills and the fuel, although we have good brush clearance in many areas, these canyons and these drainages just channel the wind right down through and carry the firestorm with it.

KING: In that connection, we'll check in in a moment with Chad Myers.

One more question for Larry Himmel of KFMB, who saw his house burn down.

Are you going to go back to where it was, Larry?

HIMMEL: Well, you know, the toughest part for me, Larry, will be tomorrow bringing my family up here for the first time to see it with all the memories in it.

As far as would I rebuild here?

KING: Yes.

HIMMEL: Yes. I'm about 10 miles east of the ocean. And I don't know if you can reference it. There's a nice pool there with a Jacuzzi. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the coast. Obviously, this is not a clear day.

But I want to show you really quickly the irony -- there's always an irony in this. I'll have my photographer pan over there through these burnt trees. You can see some flame that has just kicked up over the last 20 minutes. And right there actually is a firehouse. And that is in jeopardy right now. And between the firehouse and where we are, you can see a bunch of McMansions that have been built in the last couple of years, multi-million dollar houses that have been spared so far.

KING: Thanks.

HIMMEL: So, yes, would I rebuild?

I'll be here.

KING: Thanks.

Thanks for terrific reporting, Larry. Chad Myers is our CNN meteorologist.

He's all the way over in Atlanta, but he spots the scene.

Is it going to get better?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It does. It does get better tonight and it gets much better on Wednesday. But for now, between now and probably 3:00 a.m. Local time, California time, it is going to be tough.

Now, not the winds that they had yesterday. Here are all the fires, Larry, across California -- all the way from almost Oxnard right into Malibu. This is the area around Malibu that we had the fires over the weekend.

But then you get to San Diego and Rancho Bernardo. That's where our reporter was just there. The Malibu fire is pretty much in good shape. But north of there into the mountains, still on fire. The biggest fire I saw all day and the most devastation I had to describe was Lake Arrowhead -- hundreds of homes going up all at one time. The fire companies, they were out and they tried, but we heard 9/11 calls -- people calling in saying my house is on fire and all the 9/11 operator could say was get out. We have no one left to send there.

KING: Chad...

MYERS: And that's what Lake Arrowhead had to do.

This is such a big event, Larry, you can you see it from space. You can see the smoke plumes all the way from Malibu. Here's L.A. And back down here, Rancho Bernardo, where the reporter lost his house. Now, that wind is blowing that smoke completely offshore.

Another amazing thing with this storm -- you can pick up the smoke on radar. The radars are confused, Larry. They think it's raining because the smoke is so thick, it's picking up the smoke particles as rain.

KING: Wow!

MYERS: It's clearly not raining across any part of Southern California whatsoever.

KING: Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: It's a Santa Ana event and it's a big one.

KING: Chad Myers will be on duty. I'm sure, all night long, as we stay on top of this.

We'll be back with more right after this.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was right here behind us, right on this hill. And then it kind of pushed that way and then it just settled down. And overnight, I thought, OK, we're safe. And then apparently it came -- it started up again right behind us. And now it's really flaring up with the wind right here.



KING: In a little while we will talk with Valerie Plame Wilson, the author of "Fair Game," and the first time live at night in prime time.

ON the phone with us now is Wendy Walker, the senior executive producer of this program. By point of information, Wendy and her two children were asked to evacuate from their home in Rancho Santa Fe and they have no idea of the fate of that home.

How were you told to evacuate, Wendy?

WENDY WALKER, LARRY KING LIVE SR. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Well, we kind of did it on our own. We went to bed last night thinking that everything was OK and that it was just in Malibu. And actually, I had been on the phone, I have been e-mailing Suzanne Somers all day because I was so worried that she was again going to lose her home.

So I was really worried about her. But for some reason I thought I should have the kids sleep with me. So the three of us got into -- you know, slept in the same bed, but we were told that everything was fine.

And then I got a call from -- at about 4:00 in the morning from my gardener, and she told me to get out of the house because I'm surrounded by eucalyptus trees, and that's one of the things in the ranch that's really scary, because they're very -- you know, they burn very fast. So I woke up the kids and I started packing, and then while we were packing -- and I was just doing it because of this wonderful woman who told me to get out -- then we -- they called like a reverse 911, they call you and say get out.

So we grabbed the dog and the cat and, of course, Walker (ph), my 9-year-old, insisted on taking the huge lizard and the two turtles, wouldn't leave the house without them. I guess to me what is really weird is that, you know, I never knew how Suzanne and other people felt until I had -- I was faced with, you know, taking a few belongings from my house. I mean, it's just -- it's just indescribable how that feels.

KING: Are you staying with friends?

WALKER: Yes, I'm staying -- there are a bunch of us. You know, all of my really close friends were all kind of gathered in Del Mar by the water because we felt that was the safest place to be.

We don't have any electricity, so we've had a hard time trying to find out what has happened. And we know -- all we know is that there are houses down.

I know that some were right behind my house because one of the guys -- one of the men -- one of my friend's husbands drove up and they got really mad at him. I mean, the whole place is guarded off. We can't get into our area at all.

KING: Wow.

WALKER: But they said -- and then he came back and looked at one of my friends, Michelle, and said, "Well, your house is OK." And he looked at me and said, you know, "We don't know," because there are some houses down behind me. So, you know, Larry, I...

KING: So what do you do?

WALKER: Yes, well, you know, there's nothing you can do. It's not in my hands. And -- but it is -- you know, something for me, since I have been on the other side of stories, to be on this side of it, you know, it's really, really frightening.

And I have just been trying to keep the kids calm because, you know, they are really afraid that they are not going to have a house. And you know, I am, too.

KING: Boy. With all you've covered, it's different when you're part of the coverage, isn't it?

WALKER: It's -- it's just -- it's very frightening. You know, it's really -- you know, but we are so lucky that we are -- you know, that we are not in danger physically.

KING: Yes.

WALKER: But the thought -- Suzanne was so nice. I talked to her because, you know, she's been through it. And, you know, she's been sweet to call and talk to me through it, because we -- I think the hard part is not knowing.

And as a journalist, you just want to get the information. And it's right up the street and we are not allowed up there. I have no idea if I have a house or not.

KING: Hang tough, Wendy. We are all with you.

WALKER: I have to say that the few things I took from my house was -- since I had like two minutes to take -- is I took photos of my father who is no longer with me. And photos I couldn't replace, and my passport. And I took the Emmy that I won from LARRY KING LIVE.

So those were the things...

KING: We're are all with you, Wendy.

WALKER: Those are the three things I took.

KING: Hang tough, honey. WALKER: All right.

KING: That's Wendy Walker, senior executive producer of LARRY KING LIVE.

With us from San Diego now is -- is it Maurice, Luke, or Ron Roberts? Ron Roberts, chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Are you with us, Ron?


KING: Yes. Tell us what the overview from your standpoint is.

ROBERTS: Well, Larry, as I'm standing here in this absolutely devastated neighborhood, the -- we don't have a real good prognosis at least. The weather that has caused this -- and we had the high winds, high humidity -- excuse me, low humidity and high temperatures that have created the perfect firestorm. That weather condition is going to persist for at least the next 24 hours. So the county, we have a very long night and probably another long day tomorrow.

KING: Yes.

ROBERTS: And we are seeing fires all over the county right now.

KING: All right. You're in our thoughts. And we will be checking back with you again tomorrow.

And we will be taking a break.

And when we come back, we will talk with Valerie Plame Wilson, the author of "Fair Game." Four years after her cover was blown by a newspaper column, she's settling some scores with the White House and telling as much of her story as the CIA is going to let her.

We will show you why when we come back.


VALERIE PLAME WILSON, FMR. CIA AGENT: I and my former CIA colleagues trusted our government to protect us as we did our jobs. A few reckless individuals within the current administration betrayed that trust.



KING: She was supposed to be with us for the full hour. Sadly, though, we are limited in time because of the tragedies occurring in California. But we welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Valerie Plame Wilson, the former CIA covert operations officer publicly outed as an operative in 2003 after her husband, the former U.S. ambassador, Joe Wilson, wrote an op-ed challenging the Bush administration's rationale for invading Iraq.

She's the author of the new book "Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal By the White House".

There you see its cover. The afterword from Laura Rozen.

And that, by the way, is an important afterword.

I just must show this right away on camera. Now, you wrote this book. I know the CIA can edit books, but this is what they did with you.

V. WILSON: And that page is minor, actually, compared to other ones.

KING: They take out lots. What they take out looks like one word. What were they doing?

V. WILSON: Well, the agency has taken the position that I'm not permitted to acknowledge my agency affiliation prior to January 2002. And I can tell you it has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with continual political payback.

KING: And Ms. Rozen in the afterword corrects those things, doesn't she?

V. WILSON: That's right. Simon & Schuster chose her. I've never met her. I've never spoken to her. She relied upon interviews, and there's quite a bit of information in the public domain that she put it together in the end.

KING: Most CIA people don't write books, is that correct? Generally, it is verboten?

V. WILSON: Well, there has been, at least just in the last couple of years, at least 20 former CIA operatives who have written books and that got through the Publications Review Board, which is the folks that make sure you don't have any classified information.

KING: Why did you write it?

V. WILSON: I wrote it because I think it's a cautionary tale of the consequences of speaking truth to power. And we are living, I think, in some perilous times. And it's very important that we hold our government to account for its words and deeds.

I had an amazing career, one I loved. I was proud to serve my country as a CIA covert operative, working on counterproliferation issues. And when -- when Joe, my husband, challenged the administration on the primary reason for going to war for Iraq, which was the nuclear threat, there was -- they were furious.

And they went after him and then they went after me. And they did that by blowing my covert identity and making it impossible to do my job anymore.

KING: And then the critics said that you weren't important anyway. You weren't really an agent.

V. WILSON: Right, because by diminishing me, you diminish the crime. And, you know, I have been called a glorified secretary by a member of Congress.

KING: Were you stunned by that?

V. WILSON: Well, yes. I worked really hard. And I love my job and I was proud to do it, and I did have quite a bit of responsibility, worldwide responsibility. In the run-up to the war with Iraq, we were all looking at going after the Iraqi scientists and these alleged WMD programs.

KING: Now, didn't you have something to do with sending your husband over in the first place?

V. WILSON: I did not.

KING: Did not.

V. WILSON: I did not. I did not suggest him, I did not recommend him. And, you know, the fact is that what Joe did was a service to our nation.

He was asked a serious question by -- and he was sent by the CIA at the behest of the office of the vice president to go check into this. And he went pro bono, only his travel expenses were paid. And anyone who knows anything about the African continent knows that Niger is not a junket or boondoggle.

KING: As I told you, I saw George Tenet at dinner tonight.


KING: And he has nothing but the highest regard for you.

Were you aware of that, that he held you in very high esteem as an agent?

V. WILSON: Well, no.

KING: He did. He does.

V. WILSON: But that's very kind. And I wish him well.

KING: When all of this started to happen around you, how did you deal with it? I mean, emotionally, how did you deal with it?

V. WILSON: Sometimes better than other times. It's helpful -- when this all started, we had at that time 3-and-a-half-year-old twins. And, you know, there's nothing like children to keep you from toxic self-absorption, because when all of this was swirling and it was just -- I thought I couldn't get through the day, you know, your kids really don't care how your day was. They just want your attention and your love.

KING: By the way, terrific reviews today in "The Washington Post"...

V. WILSON: Thank you.

KING: ... and in "The New York Times".

V. WILSON: Thank you. It's been -- it's been a long journey. It's been four and a half years, where everyone else in the world has gotten to speak about me. And finally I get to tell my story.

KING: Was it hard to write?

V. WILSON: No, that was the easy part. It was all of the rest of the stuff.

KING: The guest is Valerie Plame Wilson, "My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal By the White House." The book is "Fair Game." And her husband, Ambassador Wilson, will join us right after the break.

And part of that break will be taken by Anderson Cooper, who will guest on this program on Wednesday night when we were on an hour early. We will be on at 8:00, preceding his special.

Anderson, what's up tonight?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Larry, we're going to be focusing on the fires in California. Things keep changing.

Fire lines moving, people keep scrambling to stay ahead of the flames. Dry conditions there in southern California. Also in the southeast United States. But there in the southeast and Atlanta, the trouble is not fire, it's lack of water.

Atlanta running out, really running out of water. A major American city. We're going to look at that.

Also, a new tape from Osama bin Laden.

And "Planet in Peril," a preview. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin join me here in New York.

All at the top of the hour -- Larry.

KING: That's "AC 360," Anderson Cooper, at the top of the hour, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

And we'll e right back. Don't go away.


PATRICK FITZGERALD, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: At the end of the day, what appears is that Mr. Libby's story as 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 is 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 that he lied about it afterwards under oath and repeatedly.



KING: We're back with Valerie Plame Wilson, the author of "Fair Game".

And we are joined now from Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is now where they live, by Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the former U.S. ambassador, author of July 6, 2003 "New York Times" op-ed, "What I Didn't Find in Africa."

Joe, did you read the book when she was writing it?

JOSEPH WILSON, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR: No, I didn't, Larry. Like everybody else, I had to wait until after it passed through the Publications Review Board.

I did get a chance to read it in sort of the galley stage and go through it with her. I thought it was well written. I'm very proud of her. She's done a terrific job. She's held up wonderfully through all of this.

KING: You write about your depression. Something that I guess people didn't know about.

V. WILSON: Postpartum depression.

KING: Postpartum. This was after birth, right?

V. WILSON: That's right.

KING: How did you get through that?

V. WILSON: Well, I didn't even know initially what was happening to me. I had no idea.

Here I was educated. We had financial resources. I was happily married. And I think I had demonstrated some pretty good coping skills up until that point in my life, and all of a sudden I was completely undone by these two little babies. And so I sought help.

KING: How long do it run?

V. WILSON: Oh, I was probably coming out of it when the babies were about 8 or 9 months old.

KING: Ambassador, do you bear the bitterness -- and I guess that's the only word for it -- that your wife bears toward this White House?

J. WILSON: Well, I think "bitterness" is probably the wrong word. I think it's disappointment and, frankly, anger that this administration would actually betray the national security of our country for a purely political vendetta. I think they are trying to scare Americans from doing what one does in a democracy, hold your government, hold your administration to account for its words and deeds. We are not going to be scared, and we will continue to speak out and stand our ground.

KING: Do you signal out Dick Cheney, Valerie?

V. WILSON: Well, I think from the Libby trial, it was pretty clear that there were quite a few senior administration officials that were involved in this. I think Prosecutor Fitzgerald spoke about a multitude in the White House that were sought to undermine and discredit my husband.

KING: What did you think of the results of the trial?

V. WILSON: Oh, well, I think the most important charge that he was convicted on, Mr. Libby, was the obstruction of justice, because what that demonstrates is that the special prosecutor could not get to the bottom of the case. As he said, it was like throwing sand in the umpire's eyes. And consequently, he could not find out exactly what happened.

KING: Ambassador, what are your thoughts on the vice president?

J. WILSON: Well, Larry, having worked in the White House in the National Security Council, I know when a principal, the president or the vice president, annotates a newspaper article, those are not just idle thoughts. He's not doodling.

Those are action items. Those are really talking points he dictated through his -- through hi writing on the article to his underlings, including Mr. Libby.

So in my judgment, he was the ringleader of this conspiracy to defame, as Fitzgerald said, defame and otherwise punish me. And they did so by betraying the national security of my country.

If Cheney had asked Libby and Rove to call in the Russian military attache to disclose Valerie's name, we know what we would call it. And there's no reason to call it anything else just because that information was brokered through Bob Novak.

KING: Do you miss being a spy?

V. WILSON: I do. I loved it.

KING: You liked spy work?

V. WILSON: Well, it was great. What a great career. The government pays you for living and working overseas on something that I thought was a critical...

KING: But hiding identities and all of those kinds of things?

V. WILSON: Well, there's a reason for it. You're not just -- you're doing it for national security. And I have to tell you, if none of this had happened, we would probably be living overseas right now and I would be pursuing counterproliferation issues.

KING: We will be back with some more moments with Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband Joe.

Don't go away.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Silent and stoic, Lewis "Scooter" Libby let's his attorney react to the jury's crushing verdict -- guilty on four of five counts of obstruction, perjury and making false statements to the FBI.

TED WELLS, LIBBY'S ATTORNEY: We believe, as we said at the time of his indictment, that he is totally innocent, totally innocent, and that he did not do anything wrong.




V. WILSON: I want to share with you my to-do list. This was from the last three weeks.

Pick up dry cleaning, go to Target to get the kids' camp stuff, attend the oral arguments that we're suing the vice president, Libby.


Go to Home Depot, get a garden hose, picture hooks. Sue the CIA on First Amendment grounds.


KING: Funny.

There's a photo of you in sunglasses and a headscarf in "Vanity Fair," a famous photo with Joe in the Porsche.

Was that a mistake?

V. WILSON: You know, it was more trouble than it was worth. It was a crazy period, but you have to remember, this was late 2003. The damage had already been done by the senior administration officials. And I did not give an interview.

KING: Was any other cover blown by revealing your identity? I mean, were other people hurt?

V. WILSON: I can't really speak to that. A damage report was done. I didn't see it, but I do know that -- you know, there is, of course, a ripple effect. Not only assets in the field, but perhaps other officers as well.

KING: Ambassador, were you shocked by the reaction to your op-ed piece?

J. WILSON: Well, I was surprised. I fully expected that they would try to attack me because that's their modus operandi.

They have nothing else in their quiver. But I was shocked that they would actually betray our national security in sending this message, that, don't you dare challenge this administration.

Let me go back -- can I just answer the question? The car, by the way, was a Jaguar, not a Porsche. And Jaguar lovers take that for -- but the problem with that particular photo was that it distracted everybody from the true story, which was the lie in the president's State of the Union Address.

I don't think either of us ever had any idea that -- that people would be so distracted by the Republican smear machine and lose their focus on what the president said and what he used to justify this war.

KING: The nuclear lie, you mean?

V. WILSON: The 16 words.

J. WILSON: Yes...

KING: The 16 words.

J. WILSON: ... the 16 words in the State of the Union Address.

KING: What are you going to do now, Valerie?

J. WILSON: That's the story, Larry.

KING: Well put, Joe.

What are you going to do now?

V. WILSON: Well, first, I just have to get through the book tour, which I look forward to. And then spend some time with my family. It's been a wild ride over four and a half years. We're in Santa Fe now.

KING: How old are the twins?

V. WILSON: They are 7 and a half, second grade.

KING: And Joe has twins from his first marriage.

V. WILSON: He does. So we have two sets of twins, both boy- girl. So we are done.

And I think that once we get through this, Joe and I are going to take a deep breath. We want to move beyond this. We don't want to be defined by this. We want to contribute more. I don't know how. We will figure it out.

KING: You're both very young. V. WILSON: Well, thank you.

KING: Thanks, Joe.

J. WILSON: Well, Valerie's young.

KING: Thanks.

V. WILSON: Thank you.

KING: The book is "Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal By the White House."

Before we hand things off to "AC 360," we want to share a piece of news that made the LARRY KING LIVE team very proud.

Our technical production manager, Tommy Groves (ph), is now an ensign in the United States Navy. There he is.

Thomas Christopher Groves (ph) was commissioned this weekend in a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington. The service oath was administered by his father, retired Lieutenant Commander Gary O. Groves (ph).

We salute Tommy for his desire to serve his country as an officer in the Reserves. We're also glad to say he'll keep working for this show when he's not doing Navy duties.

How about that?

Anchors away, Ensign Groves (ph).

And right now to across the hall somewhere, to Anderson Cooper and "AC 360".