9/11 of course changed everything, and some of the most effective scenes in this film involve the fall-out among intelligence agents and organizations once it became apparent that there had been missed clues that, followed up on, might have prevented those attacks. With regard to Iraq and Saddam's WMDs, agents of the vice-president's office returned repeatedly to the CIA to press them about the likelihood of various surmises and conclusions, really to change those conclusions to concoct another case. In one such scene a heretofore competent and committed agent is reduced to a stuttering mess by the relentless Libby's interrogation.
It was Scooter Libby who leaked information to the press that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative - leaked multiple times, as it turned out, for good measure, in case any reporter given this tidbit might have qualms about printing it. Columnist Robert Novak broke the story, which of course cost Plame her career, but - as both her memoir and the film make plain - also cost the lives of many, perhaps hundreds, of civilian "assets" she had developed who were in vulnerable positions and mid-stream operations. The film dramatizes this in the form of the abrupt abandonment of Iraqi scientists whom she had recruited to defect and promised to get safely out of that country along with their families, who were rounded up subsequently and disappeared. And the pressure of Plame's outing almost cost her and Wilson their marriage, as they each struggled with how to respond publicly, each feeling abandoned and betrayed by the other. In a cameo as Plame's father, Sam Shepherd burnishes a single scene in which he listens to her anguish and, with all the compact but deeply felt reticence of a career military officer - read, unassailable patriot - answers softly, "What they did [to Wilson and her] was just wrong."