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.