Valerie Plame, the former intelligence operative who rose to prominence when her identity was outed during President George W. Bush's administration, showed off what she called her CIA-taught driving skills in a splashy launch video for her newly announced congressional candidacy on Monday.
"Yes, the CIA really does teach us how to drive like this," Plame, a Democrat, claims in the video, after driving a Camaro muscle car in reverse for several seconds before executing a sharp turn on a dirt road, exiting the car, and strutting confidently towards the camera.
Plame also boasts: "You name a hot spot? I lived it," as images of Iraq, Syria, North Korea and Iran flash on the screen. "I come from Ukrainian Jewish immigrants," Plame says later on, seemingly to rebut previous accusations that she intentionally posted anti-Semitic content on Twitter.
There were just a few problems, observers said -- and they could dog Plame's Democratic bid for a contested open House seat in northern New Mexico currently held by exiting Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.
The former operative was never stationed in Iran or North Korea, for example. And her recounting of what became known as "PlameGate" was missing some seemingly key details.
"Dick Cheney’s chief of staff took revenge against my husband and leaked my identity," Plame states. "His name? Scooter Libby. Guess who pardoned him last year?”
However, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in 2006 that he was the one who revealed Plame's identity to journalist Robert Novak, not Libby. Plame alleged that the leak came because Bush officials wanted to punish her husband, former diplomat Joe Wilson, for opposing the Iraq War.
"Dear Valerie Plame: Scooter Libby didn’t reveal your identity, Richard Armitage did," Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union and a Fox News contributor, said on Twitter. "Starting your campaign w this inaccuracy is, well, revealing."
Schlapp added: "Scooter went to prison [because] Republicans always agree to special counsels who never prosecute the wrongdoing but do set perjury traps. Democrat administrations are smarter."
Bush commuted Libby's sentence after he was convicted of lying to investigations and obstructing justice in the matter, and Trump removed that conviction from his record through a pardon.
Plame's video also reportedly aroused the ire of CIA officials by allegedly overhyping her credentials. Journalist Yashar Ali noted that former Plame colleagues on Twitter were complaining that her "launch spot trivializes the work they do and turns it into a James Bond ad rather than conducting serious/important clandestine operations and offering critical analysis to policymakers."
Plame is no stranger to well-orchestrated stunts -- at one point raising nearly $90,000 on a crowdsourcing site to buy a stake in Twitter in hopes of banning the president from the social media platform.
She is also no stranger to controversy, and in 2017, faced a torrent of criticism for retweeting and praising an anti-Semitic article in the Unz Review authored by Phillip Giraldi titled “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars." Plame called it "very, very provocative, but thoughtful."
The Unz Review website was founded by former California GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron Unz, who has said that the "standard Holocaust narrative is at least substantially false, and quite possibly, almost entirely so."
"The retweeted article by Phillip Giraldi itself contains the usual anti-Semitic tropes: Jews are guilty of dual loyalty; they control politicians, the media and entertainment; they want the U.S. to fight wars for the country to which they have real allegiance – Israel; they are dangerous to America. Giraldi has been pushing this garbage for years and Plame is one of his fans," Alan Dershowitz wrote for FoxNews.com at the time.
Dershowitz added: "For Plame to claim that she was unaware of the anti-Semitic content of Giraldi’s article is to ignore reality. Plame had to be aware, since she was aware of Giraldi’s bigotry. Her apologies ring hollow."
Despite Plame's apparent effort to defuse the controversy by reminding viewers of her Jewish relatives in her campaign advertisement, commentators honed in on the issue Monday evening. CNN anchor Jake Tapper posted a "flashback" image showing a screenshot of 2017 of Plame's effort to buy Twitter to evict Trump -- as well as her retweet of the anti-Semitic article.
Plame, amid the backlash in 2017, apologized and resigned from the board of the Ploughshares Fund, which provides grants for projects aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
"On a personal note, one should not tweet while moving, 8 workmen are in a small space, the dog is going nuts, and kids are texting one asking for things they forgot for school," Plame said. "Social media very unforgiving. I feel badly and will gladly shake the hand of anyone who has never made a mistake."
Despite Plame's suggestion that she had not read the entire piece, however, she had specifically urged followers to “read the entire article."
Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report.