- Joseph C. Wilson
:"For information about the American political scandal pertaining to Joseph C. Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson: see also|Plame affair|CIA leak grand jury investigation|CIA leak scandal timeline".Infobox Writer
caption = Discussing his book, "
The Politics of Truth", after presenting a lecture at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, in October 2005
name = Joseph C. Wilson, IV
birthname = Joseph Charles Wilson, IV
birthdate = birth date and age|1949|11|6
occupation = Strategic management consultant (1998– )
Presidential Special Assistant and NSC Senior Director for African Affairs (1997–1998)
nationality = American
Autobiography, Memoir, Political criticism
notableworks = "
The Politics of Truth"
spouse = Valerie Plame Wilson (1998– )
Jacqueline Wilson (1986–1998)
Susan Otchis Wilson (1974–1986)
children = four (two sets of twins)
(with Valerie Plame Wilson and Susan Otchis Wilson)
website = http://wilsonsupport.org/
Joseph Charles Wilson, IV (born
November 6, 1949) is the CEO of his own firm JC Wilson International Ventures, "a consulting firm specializing in strategic managementand international-business development." [http://www.greatertalent.com/speakers/speakers.php?speakerid=258 "Joseph Wilson"] , biography at Greater Talent Network Inc. (Speakers Bureau), accessed July 26, 2007.] [http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=1142 Press release:] Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Conservative Writer William Kristol to Debate Iraqand War on Terrorat UCSB May 24", " University of California, Santa Barbara", May 17, 2004, accessed January 6, 2008.] In January 2007, Wilson joined Jarch Capital, LLC, as vice chairman, to advise the firm's expansion in areas of Africa considered "politically sensitive."Phil Heilberg, Chairman, Jarch Capital, LLC, [http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article19833 "Ambassador Joe Wilson Begins Working With Jarch Capital, LLC as Vice Chairman"] , Jarch Capital press release, " The Sudan Tribune", January 19, 2007, accessed January 7, 2008.]
United States Foreign Service diplomatbefore retiring in 1998, Wilson was posted to African nations and Iraqduring the George H. W. Bush administrationand later served as Special Assistant to U.S. President Bill Clintonand as Senior Director for African Affairs on the United States National Security Council. Wilson became known to the general public as a result of his op-ed "What I Didn't Find in Africa", published in the " New York Times" four months after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Wilson's op-ed documented his 2002 Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) investigation into whether Iraq had purchased or attempted to purchase uranium yellowcakefrom Niger. He concluded that the George W. Bush administrationtwisted intelligence to "exaggerate the Iraqi threat."Joseph C. Wilson IV, [http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/06WILS.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5007&en=6c6aeb1ce960dec0&ex=1372824000&partner=USERLAND "What I Didn't Find in Africa"] , " The New York Times", July 6, 2003, accessed September 17, 2006.]
The week after the article's publication,
Robert Novakdisclosed Wilson's wife's maiden name, " Valerie Plame," which was ultimately determined to be her classified covert CIA identity, in his syndicated " Washington Post" column. Subsequently, former Ambassador Wilson and others alleged that the disclosure was part of the Bush administration's attempts to discredit his report on his trip to Africa and the op-ed describing his findings because they did not support the government's rationale for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Wilson's allegations led to a federal investigation of the leak by the United States Department of Justice, to the appointment of a Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, to the CIA leak grand jury investigation, and to a major American political scandal variously dubbed by the press " Plamegate", the " Plame affair", the " CIA leak scandal", and other terms relating to the public disclosure or "leak" of Mrs. Wilson's then-classified covert CIA identity as "Valerie Plame".
Although no one was "indicted for actually leaking Plame's identity," [http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/09/08/leak.armitage/index.html] the investigation resulted in a federal criminal trial
United States v. Libbyin which Lewis Libby, the former Chief of Staff to Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney, was tried on five federal felony counts. He was convicted on four of the counts, involving false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice, none of which related directly to the Plame relevation but rather to his failure to cooperate with the subsequent investigation into the revelation. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a fine of $250,000. The prison time was commuted by President Bush.
The Wilsons have appealed the dismissal, on jurisdictional grounds, of
Wilson v. Cheney, their ongoing civil suit brought against Cheney, Libby, Karl Rove, Richard Armitage, and other unnamed parties. This case has just been dismissed by a federal appeals court. It is not clear if further appeals will be filed. [http://www.wilsonsupport.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18&Itemid=31 "Current Status of Civil Suit: Update on the Wilsons' Lawsuit"] , "wilsonsupport.org", May 9, 2008, accessed June 10, 2008.]
Early life and education
Joseph C. Wilson, IV, was born in
Bridgeport, Connecticutin 1949 to Joseph Charles Wilson, III, and Phyllis (Finnell) Wilson; he grew up in California and Europe (Wilson, " The Politics of Truth" 32–33). [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/10/01/iraq/main576052.shtml "Wilson: From Envoy to Accuser:] Profile of the Diplomat at the Center of the CIA Leak Dispute", " CBS News", October 1, 2003, "Special Report: Iraq After Saddam", accessed July 27, 2007.] He was raised in a "proud Republican family" in which "there [was] a long tradition of politics and service to the farm" and for which " [p] olitics was a staple around the table" (Wilson, " The Politics of Truth" 31). His mother's uncle, James "Sunny Jim" Rolph, was mayor of San Francisco, Californiafrom 1912 to 1931 and served as California's governor until his 1934 death in office (" The Politics of Truth" 31). Wilson's mother's brothers jokingly referred to noted conservative Barry Goldwaterwas "a bit liberal" (31). Military service was also a strong part of his family history. Both of Wilson's grandfathers served in the two world wars, his paternal grandfather receiving both the British Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Croix de Guerrefor his service in World War I (32). Wilson's father Joe was a Marine pilot in World War II and narrowly escaped death by taking off immediately before the bombing of the aircraft carrier "Franklin", in which 700 other American servicemen died (31).
In 1968, Wilson matriculated at the
University of California, Santa Barbara, majoring, he once joked, in "history, volleyball, and surfing" and maintaining a "C" average (" The Politics of Truth" 32). He worked as a carpenter for five years after his 1971 graduation.Richard Leiby, [http://u-r-next.com/wilsonBio.htm "Man Behind the Furor: Wilson: Envoy With an Independent Streak"] " Washington Post" October 1, 2003, A01; rpt. in "u-r-next.com", accessed September 26, 2006.] Later, he became more serious about his education, winning a graduate fellowship and studying public administration. The Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s galvanized Wilson along with much of his generation and "pitted parents against kids in [his] family just as it did in many households around the country" (" The Politics of Truth" 32).
Personal life and family
Wilson's first marriage was to his college sweetheart Susan Otchis in 1974 ("
The Politics of Truth" 33). In 1979, the couple had a set of twins, Sabrina Cecile and Joseph Charles. The marriage ended in an amicable divorce in 1986, toward the end of his service in Burundi. Wilson married his second wife Jacqueline, a Frenchwoman raised in Africa, in 1986 (68–69). Though Wilson and Jacqueline began to live separate lives in the 1990s, they did not divorce until 1998 because Wilson "was never in one place long enough to complete the process" (242). Wilson had met Valerie Plamein 1997, while working for President Bill Clinton; they married in 1998, after Wilson's divorce from Jacqueline (242). Wilson lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife and their two children, twins Trevor Rolph and Samantha Finnell Diana, born in 2000. Among Wilson's hobbies are golf, bicycling, and fitness. [Entry on Joseph C. Wilson in " Marquis Who's Who", accessed September 23, 2006.] Vicky Ward, [http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2004/01/plame200401?printable=true¤tPage=all "Double Exposure"] , "Vanity Fair", January 2004, accessed September 23, 2006.]
Diplomatic careerDiplomatic postings and government positions:Having become fluent in French as a teenager, Wilson entered the
*1976–1978: General Services Officer,
*1978–1979: Administrative Office,
*1979–1981: Administrative Officer, U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C.
*1981–1982: Administrative Officer,
Pretoria, South Africa
*1982–1985: Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM),
*1985–1986: Congressional Fellow, offices of Senator
Al Goreand Representative Tom Foley
Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
*1992–1995: Ambassador to
Gabonand São Tomé and Príncipe
*1995–1997: Political Advisor (POLAD) to the Commander in Chief of U.S. Armed Forces, Europe (
EUCOM), Stuttgart, Germany
*1997–1998: Special Assistant to President
Bill Clintonand Senior Director for African Affairs, United States National Security Council, Washington, D.C. U.S. Foreign Servicein 1976, where he would be employed until 1988.Wilson, " The Politics of Truth" 451.]
From January 1976 through 1998, he was posted in five
African nations; as a general services officer in Niamey, Niger(his first assignment) he was "responsible for keeping the power on and the cars running, among other duties". From 1988 to 1991, he was the Deputy Chief of Mission(to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Catherine Glaspie) at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. In the wake of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, he became the last American diplomat to meet with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, telling him in very clear terms to leave Kuwait (Wilson, " The Politics of Truth" 107–27). When Hussein sent a note to Wilson (along with other embassy heads in Baghdad) threatening to execute anyone sheltering foreigners in Iraq, Wilson publicly repudiated the dictator by appearing at a press conference wearing a homemade noose around his neck and declaring, "If the choice is to allow American citizens to be taken hostage or to be executed, I will bring my own fucking rope." Despite Hussein's threats, Wilson sheltered more than 100 Americans at the embassy and successfully evacuated several thousand people (Americans and other nationals) from Iraq. For his actions, he was called a "a true American hero" by President George H. W. Bush. Amy Goodmanand Juan Gonzalez, [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/05/1415239 "'He Has Subverted the Rule of Law and the System of Justice'] –Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson Reacts to Bush's Commutation of Lewis 'Scooter' Libby Jail Sentence in Outing of Valerie Plame", "Rush Transcript" of interview with Joseph C. Wilson, IV, on " Democracy Now!", July 5, 2005, accessed July 23, 2007.] From 1992 to 1995, he served as U.S. ambassador to Gabonand São Tomé and Príncipe.
From 1995 to 1997, Wilson served as Political Advisor (POLAD) to the Commander in Chief of U.S. Armed Forces, Europe (
EUCOM), in Stuttgart, Germany. From 1997 until 1998, when he retired, he helped direct Africa policy as Special Assistant to President Bill Clintonand as NSC Senior Director for African Affairs.Chaps. 8–10 on 182-210 of Wilson, " The Politics of Truth"; 261-74.]
Since retiring from government service in 1998, Wilson has managed "JC Wilson International Ventures Corp., an international business development and management company." [http://www.greatertalent.com/speakers/speakers.php?speakerid=258 "Joseph Wilson"] , biography at Greater Talent Network Inc. (Speakers Bureau), accessed
July 26, 2007.] [http://www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=1142 Press release:] Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Conservative Writer William Kristol to Debate Iraqand War on Terrorat UCSB May 24", " University of California, Santa Barbara", May 17, 2004, accessed January 6, 2008.]
Early in 2007, Wilson became vice chairman of Jarch Capital, LLC.Phil Heilberg, Chairman, Jarch Capital, LLC, [http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article19833 "Ambassador Joe WIlson Begins Working With Jarch Capital, LLC as Vice Chairman"] , Jarch Capital press release, "
The Sudan Tribune", January 19, 2007, accessed January 7, 2008.] In announcing Wilson's role in the firm, Jarch Capital's Chairman Phil Heilberg states, "Not only does Ambassador Wilson bring an incredible amount of experience and knowledge on Africa to Jarch Capital, his views on American foreign policy and National Security are widely respected in Washington" and he "will be instrumental in the growth of Jarch as it expands in Africa, sometimes in politically sensitive areas."
Wilson serves as a guest speaker and panelist in conferences and other programs devoted to African business policies and political affairs as well as on the matters pertaining to the
CIA leak scandal. For example, Wilson, along with Heilberg, were both guest panelists on "Africa-China Relations: Creating a Win-Win Partnership", in the 14th Annual Wharton Global Business Forum, sponsored by the Wharton Africa Student Association, prior to Wilson's becoming vice chairman of Jarch Capital.See [http://www.whartonglobal.com/wgbf2006/africa/speakers.asp Speakers & Panelists"] , [http://www.whartonglobal.com/wgbf2006/africa/index.asp "Africa: Building New Partnerships, Impacting the Global Economy"] , Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. November 11, 2006, accessed January 7, 2008.]
Public service awards
*Secretary of State Distinguished Service Award
*Department of State Superior Honor Award
*Department of State Meritorious Honor Award [PDFlink| [http://foia.state.gov/masterdocs/03fam/03m4820.pdf Department of State Awards] |161 KiB .]
University of California, Santa BarbaraDistinguished Alumnus Award
American Foreign Service AssociationWilliam R. Rivkin Award (1987) [ [http://www.afsa.org/awards/awardwinners_rivkin.cfm Past Award Winners] ]
*Commander in the Order of the Equatorial Star (Government of
*Admiral in the El Paso Navy (El Paso County Commissioners)
BuzzFlashWings of Justice Award, shared with wife, Valerie Plame (2005). [http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/interviews/033 "Ambassador Joseph Wilson Updates BuzzFlash on the Bush Administration's Betrayal of Our National Security:] A BuzzFlash Interview", "buzzflash.com" September 12, 2006, accessed September 19, 2006. (Extensive interview with Joseph C. Wilson on the occasion of the award.)]
Ron RidenhourAward for Truth-Telling (from the Fertel Foundation and The NationInstitute, Oct. 2003)Vicky Ward, [http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2004/01/plame200401?printable=true¤tPage=all "Double Exposure"] , "Vanity Fair", January 2004, accessed September 23, 2006.]
Political views and involvement
At the midpoint of his career as a diplomat, Wilson served for a year (1985–1986) as a Congressional Fellow in the offices of Senator
Al Goreand Representative Tom Foley; he would later attribute his working for the Democratic Party to "happenstance." That experience helped him gain his position as Special Assistant to President Bill Clintonand Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council, in 1997-1998.
Over the years, Wilson has made contributions to the campaigns of Democratic candidates, such as Senator
Ted Kennedyof Massachusetts and Congressman Charles B. Rangelof New York, and to Republican Congressman Ed Royceof California. [ [http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/search.asp?txtName=wilson&txtState=DC&txtZip=&txtEmploy=&txtCand=&txt2006=&txt2004=&txt2002=&txt2000=Y&txt1998=Y&txt1996=&txt1994=&txt1992=&txt1990=&txtSoft=N&Order=N&Cycles=2&Cycle1=2000&Cycle2=1998&Cycle3=&Page=2 Joseph C. Wilson search] at "opensecrets.org", n.d., accessed September 17, 2006.] In 2000, he donated US$2,000 to Gore's presidential campaign and US$1,000 to Bush's presidential campaign (" The Politics of Truth" 278-80, 282). [http://www.newsmeat.com/washington_political_donations/Joe_Wilson.php Newsmeat: Campaign Contributions Search] .] Though he voted for Gore and criticized the flawed election, he believed that Bush would nonetheless be a responsible president once in office--a belief he would later call "naive".
In 2003, Wilson formally endorsed
John Kerryfor president and donated $2,000 to his campaign; in 2003 and 2004, he served as an advisor to and speechwriter for the campaign (410–12).Joseph Curl, [http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040214-120835-4661r.htm "Spouse of Outed CIA Officer Signs On with Kerry,"] " Washington Times" February 14, 2004.] He was fired from the campaign, though, after the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report that discredited Wilson's claim that his wife was uninvolved in his mission to Niger [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120666216944170261.html?mod=opinion_main_review_and_outlooks] . According to a "New York Times" article by Scott Shane and Lynette Clemetson, despite "conservatives' efforts to portray him as a left-wing extremist" and Wilson's own statement that "it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for a Republican, even for dog catcher," he remained a "centrist at heart." [Scott Shane and Lynette Clemetson, contributors to [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/05/politics/05wilson.html "Private Spy and Public Spouse Live At Center of Leak Case"] , " The New York Times", July 5, 2005, National Desk: A1, col. 2 (Late Ed. - Final).] Wilson has endorsed Hillary Clintonin the 2008 U.S. presidential election. [http://www.hillaryclinton.com/news/release/view/?id=2426 "Frm. Ambassador Joseph Wilson Endorses Clinton"] , press release, online posting, "Hillary Clinton.com" (official site), July 16, 2007, accessed July 23, 2007.] He has made speeches on her behalf and has attended fundraisersfor the campaign. After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Wilson supported activist groups like Win Without War, a nonpartisancoalition of groups united in opposition to the Iraq War; this anti-war activism has drawn criticism from conservatives (" The Politics of Truth" 381). [ [http://www.winwithoutwarus.org/html/press_9.24.2003.html Press release] , "winwithoutwarus.org", September 24, 2003.] Since the invasion and the publication of his memoir, " The Politics of Truth", he has spoken frequently in the public media and at colleges and universities about his opposition to Bush administration foreign policies and his view of the outing of his wife's then-classified covert CIA identity as a "calculated Bush Administration reprisal aimed at punishing him for writing the New York Times piece ['What I Didn't Find in Africa'] ."
"The Politics of Truth"
In 2004, Wilson published a political and personal memoir entitled "". The book describes his diplomatic career, his personal life and family, and his experiences during the
Valerie Plame affair. Wilson's autobiographical account of over two decades of his life in foreign service includes detailed descriptions of his extensive diplomatic-career experiences, his first marriage and family, briefer references to his second marriage, his meeting of Valerie Plame, their courtship and marriage, and a detailed narrative of the events leading to his decision to go public with his criticisms of the George W. Bush administration and its aftermath, extended in appendices of chronological "timelines" and "Newspaper Commentaries Published by Ambassador Joseph Wilson Before and After the United States Invasion of Iraq in 2003" (461–86). The 2005 paperback edition, subtitled "Inside the Lies that Put the White Houseon Trial and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity", is "Updated with a New Preface by the Author ("Anatomy of a Smear" [li–lxix] ) and an Investigative Report on the Niger Documents Affair by Russ Hoyle" ("The Niger Affair: The Investigation That Won't Go Away" [xiii–xlix] ).
Wilson's trip to Niger
In late February of 2002, Wilson was sent to
Nigeron behalf of the CIA to investigate the possibility that Saddam Husseinhad a deal to buy enriched uranium yellowcake. Wilson met with the current U.S. Ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick(1999–) at the embassy and was informed that she had already debunked that story; however, they agreed that Wilson would interview dozens of officials who had been in the Niger government when the deal had supposedly taken place. He ultimately concluded: "it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place."Joseph C. Wilson IV, [http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/06WILS.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5007&en=6c6aeb1ce960dec0&ex=1372824000&partner=USERLAND "What I Didn't Find in Africa,"] "New York Times" July 6, 2003, accessed September 17, 2006.] See Wilson's "Timeline" entitled "Events surrounding the 'Sixteen Words' and the Disclosure of the Undercover Status of CIA Operative Valerie Plame, Wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson":
September 2002: First public mention of Niger-Iraq uranium connection is made in British White paper.January 28, 2003: The sixteen words are spoken by President Bush in his State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."March 7, 2003: International Atomic Energy Agency announces that documents provided by U.S. about Niger-Iraq uranium claim are forgeries.March 8, 2003: State Department spokesman says of forged documents: 'We fell for it'; shortly thereafter, Wilson tellsCf.
CNNthat the U.S. government has more information on this matter than the State Department spokesmen acknowledged.:SourcesClarifyme|date=August 2008 have informed Wilson that soon after the CNN interview, a decision was made at a meeting in the Office of the Vice President––possibly attended by Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Newt Gingrich, and other senior Republicans––to produce a workup on Wilson to discredit him.June 8, 2003: On " Meet the Press" Condoleezza Ricedenies knowledge of how dubious the uranium claim was and dissembles: "Maybe somebody down in the bowels of the Agency knew about this, but nobody in my circles."July 6, 2003: Wilson's op-ed, "What I Didn't Find in Africa," is published in the " New York Times"; Wilson appears on " Meet the Press", describes his trip and why he came away convinced that no attempt by Iraq to purchase uranium from Niger had taken place.July 8, 2003: Columnist Robert Novakencounters Wilson's friend on Washington, D.C., street and blurts out Valerie Plame's CIA employment.July 14, 2003: Novak publishes column revealing Plame's status.July 16, 2003: In "The Nation" David Cornpublishes "A White House Smear," explaining that the Intelligence Identities Protection Actmay have been violated by leak.July 20, 2003: NBC's Andrea Mitchelltells Wilson that "senior White House sources" had phoned her to stress "the real story here is not the sixteen words . . . but Wilson and his wife."July 21, 2003: NBC's Chris Matthewstells Wilson: "I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He says and I quote, 'Wilson's wife is fair game.' I will confirm that if asked."September 28, 2003: MSNBCannounces that Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation into the leak. (Wilson, " The Politics of Truth" 452-54) CIA leak scandal timeline.]
According to the
United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence"Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq" (2004), on the basis of his trip to Niger,
In an interview with Committee staff, the former ambassador [Wilson] was able to provide more information about the meeting between former [Nigerien] Prime Minister Mayaki and the Iraqi delegation. ... [Wilson] said that Mayaki did meet with the Iraqi delegation but never discussed what was meant by [the two countries] "expanding commercial relations" [being suggested by the Iraqis] . ... [Wilson] said that because Mayaki was wary of discussing any trade issues with a country under
United Nations(UN) sanctions, he made a successful effort to steer the conversation away from a discussion of trade with the Iraqi delegation.See particularly Part B ("Former Ambassador") of Sec. II: "Niger" in United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, PDFlink|" [http://intelligence.senate.gov/108301.pdf Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, Together with Additional Views] "|24.1 MiB , July 7, 2004, revised July 9, 2004, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 2004) 36-83, accessed July 29, 2007. Cf. " [http://www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/iraq.html Congressional Reports:] Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, Together with Additional Views", online posting, "gpoaccess.gov", July 7, 2004, rev. July 9, 2004, accessed July 29, 2007. (Provides July 29, 2007.] Cf. [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5403731/ "Full Text: Conclusions of Senate's Iraq Report:] Report on the Prewar Intelligence Assessments", " MSNBC", July 9, 2004, accessed July 23, 2007.]
Wilson's "New York Times" op-ed responded to President Bush's controversial "16 words" in his 2003
State of the Union Address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." [ [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html "President Delivers "State of the Union: The U.S. Capitol"] , press release, " The White House", January 28, 2003, accessed July 23, 2007. (Full transcript of the speech.)] [See, e.g, [http://www.cnn.com/interactive/allpolitics/0307/bush.16.words/content2.html "16 Words"] and "previous" link as provided by "CNN.com", March 7, 2003, accessed July 23, 2007.]
The foundation for the Wilson assertions was undermined by the Senate Intelligence Committee report (page 17) [http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/iraq/sic70904iraqconc.pdf] , the Butler Committee report [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3892809.stm] and Joseph Wilson himself [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5458642] . Some Bush critics have alleged (including Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame) that Iraq may not have been looking to acquire uranium from Niger, to which the British Inquiry said “It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible." [http://www.factcheck.org/bushs_16_words_on_iraq_uranium.html] [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5458642]
March 7, 2003, 11 days before the United States-led coalition invasion of Iraq, the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) released its report determining that documents indirectly cited by President Bush as suggesting that Iraq had tried to buy 500 tons of uranium from Niger were actually "obvious" forgeries. [http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/03/07/sprj.irq.un.transcript.elbaradei/ "Transcript of El Baradei's U.N. Presentation"] , "CNN.com", March 7, 2003, accessed July 28, 2007.]
"What I Didn't Find in Africa"
July 6 2003issue of " The New York Times", Wilson contributed an "op-ed" entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," in which he states that on the basis of his "experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war," he has "little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."Joseph C. Wilson, IV, [http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/06WILS.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5007&en=6c6aeb1ce960dec0&ex=1372824000&partner=USERLAND "What I Didn't Find in Africa"] , " The New York Times", July 6, 2003, Op-Ed, accessed September 17, 2006.] In this account, often referred to later as his "New York Times" 'op-ed,'" Wilson describes the basis for his mission to Niger as follows: "The vice president's "office" asked a serious question [about the truth of allegations that Iraq was seeking to purchase uranium yellowcakefrom Niger] . I was asked to help formulate the answer" (italics added).
In the last two paragraphs of his op-ed, Wilson relates his perspective to the Bush administration's rationale for the
I was convinced before the war that the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of
Saddam Husseinrequired a vigorous and sustained international response to disarm him. Iraq possessed and had used chemical weapons; it had an active biological weapons program and quite possibly a nuclear research program — all of which were in violation of United Nationsresolutions. Having encountered Mr. Hussein and his thugs in the run-up to the Persian Gulf war of 1991, I was only too aware of the dangers he posed.
But were these dangers the same ones the administration told us about? We have to find out. America's foreign policy depends on the sanctity of its information. For this reason, questioning the selective use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq is neither idle sniping nor "revisionist history," as Mr. Bush has suggested. The act of war is the last option of a democracy, taken when there is a grave threat to our national security. More than 200 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure that their sacrifice came for the right reasons.
Commentaries on Wilson's trip to Niger and "What I Didn't Find in Africa"
U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counselindictment of Lewis Libbystates:
July 6, 2003, the New York Times published an Op-Ed article by Wilson entitled "What I Didn’t Find in Africa." Also on July 6, 2003, the Washington Post published an article about Wilson’s 2002 trip to Niger, which article was based in part upon an interview of Wilson. Also on July 6, Wilson appeared as a guest on the television interview show " Meet the Press."
In "What I Didn't Find in Africa" and interviews in print and on television, Wilson asserted, among other things, that he had taken a trip to Niger at the request of the CIA in February 2002 to investigate allegations that Iraq had sought or obtained uranium yellowcake from Niger, and that he doubted Iraq had obtained uranium from Niger recently, for a number of reasons. Wilson stated that he believed, based on his understanding of government procedures, that the Office of the Vice President was advised of the results of his trip. [http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/index.html Office of Special Counsel] ; PDFlink| [http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/documents/libby_indictment_28102005.pdf Libby Indictment (28 Oct. 2005)] |152 KiB ]
Wilson's critics contend that, in "What I Didn't Find in Africa," Wilson falsely implies that he was sent to Niger at the request of the vice president, or his office. Indeed, this was the interpretation of some media news reporters, such as Chris Matthews of MSNBC. Two days after the Wilson OP-Ed appeared Matthews stated:
Well, let's talk about a big head. And former ambassador, Joe Wilson, said that this was cleared by the vice president's office. They are the ones who sent him to Africa to find out whether it was true or not ... If they went to the trouble to sending Joe Wilson all the way to Africa to find out whether that country had ever sold uranium to Saddam Hussein, why wouldn't they follow-up on that? [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeralyn-merritt/russert-and-libby-the-sh_b_9762.html]The false implication that Cheney or his office sent Wilson to Niger, whether made by Wilson or the media, was apparently a cause of consternation to vice presidential aide, I. Lewis Libby. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeralyn-merritt/russert-and-libby-the-sh_b_9762.html] According to the federal indictment of Libby, he called NBC's Tim Russert to complain about critcal comments made on MSNBC just two days after the Matthews remarks were aired:
On or about July 10, 2003, LIBBY spoke to NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert to complain about press coverage of LIBBY by an MSNBC reporter. LIBBY did not discuss Wilson’s wife with Russert. (page 7, Paragraph 20.) [http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/documents/libby_indictment_28102005.pdf]
Wilson's supporters counter that Wilson accurately states only that he was sent by the CIA in response to questions asked by the "office" of the vice president, not personally by Vice President Cheney himself. In his
Meet the Pressinterview with Andrea Mitchellon July 6, 2003, former Ambassador Wilson states: "The question was asked of the CIA by the office of the vice president. The office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked and that response was based upon my trip out there." [http://justoneminute.typepad.com/footnotes/2004/07/joe_wilson_with.html "Joe Wilson with Andrea Mitchell, July 6, 2003"] , online posting of transcript of " Meet the Press" for July 6, 2003, in "Footnotes", "JustOneMinute" (blog), July 20, 2004, accessed July 23, 2007. (Not accessible on the searchable transcripts site of "Meet the Press".)]
According to "
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer", "The Bush administration admitted [on Monday, July 7, 2003, the day after the publication of 'What I Didn't Find in Africa'] that accusations included in the president's State of the Union addresshave turned out to be inaccurate" and " Secretary of State Colin Powell, traveling with the president in Africa, fielded questions about the faulty intelligence during a news conference."As reported in [http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/july-dec03/iraq_07-10.html "Defending Claims,"] broadcast on " The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer", "Online NewsHour", PBS, July 10, 2003, accessed September 18, 2006(Both transcript and streaming video available online).] In that press conference, Secretary Powell concluded: "There was sufficient evidence floating around at that time that such a statement was not totally outrageous or not to be believed or not to be appropriately used. It's that once we used the statement, and after further analysis, and looking at other estimates we had, and other information that was coming in, it turned out that the basis upon which that statement was made didn't hold up, and we said so, and we've acknowledged it, and we've moved on."
Nevertheless, as Colin Powell suggested on the "NewsHour" at the time—referring to "the case I put down on the 5th of February  , for an hour and 20 minutes, roughly, on terrorism, on weapons of mass destruction, and on the human rights case, a short section at the end, we stand behind"—the Bush administration still maintains that other intelligence that Iraq may have attempted to acquire uranium in Africa may have been correct. Many supporters of its position point to the
Butler Review, which found, without giving evidence of such a claim, that there was credible intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Nigerin 1999, but not in 2002, and that there was even less certain intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from the Democratic Republic of Congo.Facts|date=January 2008
Critics of the Bush administration's position, agreeing with former Ambassador Wilson, view the evidence relating to the
Democratic Republic of Congoas suspect and point out that, while President Bush mentioned "Africa" in his State of the Union Address, in fielding questions in a "press gaggle" about the President's statement, also on 7 July 2003, press secretary Ari Fleischerstated explicitly that President Bush's claim that Iraq was seeking to purchase uranium from "Africa" derived specificially from information pertaining only to Niger and that the "the President did not have that information [about other African nations from the NIE] prior to his giving the State of the Union." [Official White House transcript of [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/07/20030707-5.html#10 "Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer"] , held in The James S. Brady Briefing Room, The White House, Washington, D.C., July 7, 2003, accessed September 18, 2006.] George Tenet, the director of the CIA during Wilson's trip, has said that the administration was not directly briefed on Wilson's report "because this report, in our view, did not resolve whether Iraq was or was not seeking uranium from abroad, it was given a normal and wide distribution (within the intelligence community), but we did not brief it to the President, Vice-President or other senior Administration officials."Quoted from George Tenet, [https://www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/press_release/2003/pr07112003.html "Statement by George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence,"] official press release, Central Intelligence Agency July 11, 2003.] In his memoir, ', Tenet writes, "This unremarkable report was disseminated, but because it produced no solid answers, there wasn't any urgency to brief its results to senior officials such as the vice president ... As far as we could tell, the Wilson summary was never delivered to Cheney. In fact, I have no recollection myself of hearing about Wilson's trip at the time." George Tenet, ' (New York: HarperCollins, 2007) 454. ISBN 0061147788 (10); ISBN 978-0061147784 (13).]
July 11, 2003 CIAStatement by Director George Tenetstates: "The same former official also said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss 'expanding commercial relations' between Iraq and Niger. The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales."
When asked to respond to Tenet's July 11th statement on
Meet the Presswith Tim Russerton October 5, 2003, former Ambassador Wilson replied:
An intermediary came to this official, and said, "I want you to meet with these guys. They’re interested in talking about expanding commercial relations." The person who talked to me said, "Red flags went up immediately, I thought of U.N. Security Council sanctions, I thought of all sorts of other reasons why we didn’t want to have any meeting. I declined the meeting," and this was out of the country, on the margins of an OIC meeting. So it was a meeting that did not take place. And at one point during the conversation, this official kind of looked up in the sky and plumbing his conscience, looked back and said, "You know, maybe they might have wanted to talk about uranium." [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3131258/ "Transcript of October 5"] , "
Meet the Press", " MSNBC", October 6, 2003, accessed July 23, 2007. ("Guests: Joseph Wilson, Former Acting Ambassador to Iraq & CIA Envoy to Niger; Robert Novak, Syndicated Columnist; David Broder, Washington Post; Ron Brownstein, Los Angeles Times; Dana Priest, Washington Post Moderator: Tim Russert- NBC News").]
Although Russert cited then CIA officials and CIA Director
George Tenet, Wilson addressed those points in the program, and Tenet's own accounts of the intelligence prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraqand the rationale for the Iraq Warin his 2007 memoir "" have been disputed by his critics.
An editorial in the "
Wall Street Journal" published in mid-July 2004 gives excerpts from the British and American investigations pertaining to Wilson's trip to Niger, finding justification for his perspective presented in "What I Didn't Find in Africa," along with some qualifications and distinctions between some evidence of Iraq's "attempts" at acquiring uranium yellowcakefrom African nations such as Niger and its actual lack of following through on such attempts. [ [http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110005353 "On the Record: Saddam, Uranium and Africa:] What Two Investigations Say about Bush's Statements on Iraq, Yellowcake and Niger"] , " The Wall Street Journal", July 15, 2004, accessed September 22, 2006.]
But another editorial published in the July 13, 2005 "
Wall Street Journal" asserts that Wilson had lied in his "What I Didn't Find in Africa" about "what he'd discovered in Africa, how he'd discovered it, what he'd told the CIA about it, or even why he was sent on the mission." [http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110006955 "Karl Rove, Whistleblower: He Told the Truth about Joe Wilson"] , " The Wall Street Journal" July 13, 2005, Review & Outlook: Editorial.]
Nuclear expert Norman Dombey has pointed out that the information relied upon by the
Butler Reviewon the Niger issue was incomplete; on 25 July 2004, he notes: "The Butler report says the claim was credible because an Iraqi diplomat visited Niger in 1999, and almost three-quarters of Niger's exports were uranium. But this is irrelevant, since France controls Niger's uranium mines."Raymond Whitaker, PDFlink| [http://www.iraqwatch.org/government/us/letters,%20reports%20and%20statements/senate-intelligencereport-070904.pdf "Propaganda: Butler 'wrong' on Iraq uranium link"] |5.97 MiB , " The Independent on Sunday" July 25, 2004, rpt. in "SpinWatch" July 28, 2004, accessed September 18, 2006.] Moreover, when asked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss the conclusions of British intelligence, Deputy Director of Intelligence John McLaughlin stated, "The one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible. It doesn't diminish our conviction that he's going for nuclear weapons, but I think they reached a little bit on that one point."Raymond Whitaker, PDFlink| [http://www.iraqwatch.org/government/us/letters,%20reports%20and%20statements/senate-intelligencereport-070904.pdf Propaganda: Butler 'wrong' on Iraq uranium link"] |5.97 MiB , London " Independent on Sunday" July 25, 2004, rpt. in " SpinWatch" (blog) July 28, 2004, accessed September 18, 2006.]
An editorial headlined "A Good Leak" published in the April 9, 2006 "
Washington Post" claims that "Mr. Wilson was the one guilty of twisting the truth and that, in fact, his report [to the CIA] supported the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium." [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/08/AR2006040800895.html "A Good Leak: President Bush Declassified Some of the Intelligence He Used to Decide On War in Iraq. Is that a scandal?"] " The Washington Post", April 9, 2006: B06, accessed September 18, 2006.]
In their news report "A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic", published in the same "Washington Post" issue as "A Good Leak", however,
National SecurityCorrespondent Dafna Linzer and Pulitzer-Prize winning National Correspondent Barton Gellman, conclude that the White House's disclosure of certain portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) seems to have misrepresented to reporters the actual level of confidence of the intelligence community in the proposition that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium.Dafna Linzer and Barton Gellman, with research contributed by Julie Tate, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/08/AR2006040800916_pf.html "A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic:] Prosecutor Describes Cheney, Libby as Key Voices Pitching Iraq-Niger Story", " The Washington Post", April 9, 2006: A01, accessed July 29, 2007.] They state: "At Cheney's instruction, Libby testified, he [Libby] told [reporter] Miller that the uranium story was a 'key judgment' of the intelligence estimate, a term of art indicating there was consensus on a question of central importance. In fact, the alleged effort to buy uranium was not among the estimate's key judgments, which were identified by a headline and bold type and set out in bullet form in the first five pages of the 96-page document." Moreover, Linzer and Gellman observe that, according to the NIE, "U.S. intelligence 'did not know' the status of Iraq's procurement efforts, 'cannot confirm' any success and had 'inconclusive' evidence about Iraq's domestic uranium operations. ... The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, likewise, called the claim 'highly dubious.' For those reasons, the uranium story was relegated to a brief inside passage in the October estimate" (italics added).Dafna Linzer and Barton Gellman, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/08/AR2006040800916_pf.html "A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic:] Prosecutor Describes Cheney, Libby as Key Voices Pitching Iraq-Niger Story"] , " The Washington Post", April 9, 2006: A01, accessed September 18, 2006.]
A few days later Dafna Linzer published another article in the "
Washington Post" describing a letter from Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgeraldto Judge Reggie B. Walton correcting a sentence appearing in his recent filings describing Scooter Libby's testimony regarding his conversation with Judith Miller about the October 2002 NIE. Purportedly, that sentence states erroneously that Libby "was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium." Instead, the sentence should have conveyed that Libby was to tell Miller some of the key judgments of the NIE "and that the NIE stated that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."Dafner Linzer, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/11/AR2006041101440_pf.html "Prosecutor in CIA Leak Case Corrects Part of Court Filing"] , " The Washington Post", April 12, 2006: A08, accessed September 18, 2006.]
Replying to complaints from various readers, the "
Washington Post" ombudsman, Deborah Howell, notes that in their front-page news report Barton Gellmanand Dafna Linzer relied on Fitzgerald's representations in his legal filings, that the editorial's writer wrote it before the front-page report, and that although the writer had not read the report, it would not have changed his mind. Howell notes that the basis for the editorial's claim that Wilson's report "supported the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium" was the fact that there was a meeting between Iraqi and Nigerien trade officials "because that's mostly what Niger has to export." She observes that the editorial inconsistently deals with the 2004 report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which notes that "the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research analysts believed that [Wilson's] report supported their assessment that Niger was unlikely to be willing or able to sell uranium to Iraq." Howell concludes:
It would have been helpful if the editorial had put statements about Wilson in more context –– especially the controversy over his trip and what he said. It also could have used a sentence to say what is known in every newsroom: Leaks are good for journalism.
On the Gellman/Linzer story, it would have been good to quote more from the WMD commission's and Iraq Survey Group's reports and specifically their conclusions.
Both pieces demonstrate the high wall between editorial and news. While editorial writers read reporters' stories, Executive Editor Len Downie doesn't regularly read editorials (although he read this one) lest it make a mark on how he runs the news pages.
Some readers think it's a scandal when two parts of the newspaper appear to be in conflict with each other, but it's not that unusual that reporting –– particularly in news and editorial –– will depend on different sources. It happened again last week when an editorial and a story gave different estimates for how long it might take Iran to build a nuclear bomb.
Reporting about national security and intelligence gathering is always fraught with fraught [sic] ; it is a subject I will write about again.Deborah Howell, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/14/AR2006041401393.html "Two Views of the Libby Leak Case"] , "
Washington Post", April 16, 2006: B06, accessed September 19, 2006. Howell also states: "Gellman said the commission and the ISG found no evidence that Iraq sought uranium abroad after 1991." That explicit statement is not reported in the Gellman/Linzer article to which she refers, however; it is in the government reports cited by Gellman and Linzer and by Linzer in their articles.]
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Reports relating to Wilson's Niger trip
Related media controversies involving Wilson
Claims made by retired generals Vallely and McInerney and "WorldNetDaily"
According to Art Moore's post on the American conservative website "
WorldNetDaily" founded by Joseph Farahin 1997, retired U.S. Army Major General Paul E. Vallelyclaimed on 3 November 2005 that former Ambassador Wilson "mentioned Plame's status as a CIA employee over the course of at least three, possibly five, conversations in 2002 [one year before she was allegedly "outed"] in the Fox NewsChannel's 'green room' in Washington, D.C., as they waited to appear on air as analysts," that Wilson "introduced Plame at cocktail parties and other social events around Washington as his CIA wife," and that her working at the CIA was "pretty common knowledge" because she had "been out there on the Washington scene many years." If Plame were a covert agent at the time, Vallely said, "he would not have paraded her around as he did."Art Moore, [http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47242 "The Plame Game:] Analyst Says Wilson 'outed' Wife in 2002: Disclosed in Casual Conversations a Year Before Novak Column", " WorldNetDaily", November 5, 2005, accessed September 19, 2006; see also archived listing for " [http://www.johnbatchelorshow.com/showDetail.cfm?id=225&start=201&groupStart=6 The John Batchelor Show] " for November 3, 2005.] Cf. [http://mediamatters.org/items/200511090011 "Two Years into Leak Investigation] , Gen. Vallely Suddenly Claims, in Contradictory Statements, That Wilson Revealed Plame's Identity to Him", " Media Matters for America", November 9, 2005, accessed September 23, 2006(incl. QuickTime video with audio voiceovers).]
In subsequent media appearances and online posts in "
WorldNetDaily", General Vallely revised the number of times that he claimed to have met and spoken with Wilson specifically about his wife's "employment" at the CIA (yet still not her specific status as a NOC) to only "one occasion."
Wilson's response to the claims
According to another "exclusive" posted by
Joseph Farahand Art Moore on " WorldNetDaily", Wilson demanded through his lawyer that Vallely retract these allegations, calling them "patently false." Joseph Farahand Art Moore, [http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47248 "The Plame Game: Joe Wilson Fumes Over Vallely Charges in WND: Demands Retraction of Statements Alleging He 'Outed' Wife in Fox Studio,"] " WorldNetDaily", November 5, 2005, accessed September 19, 2006.]
Wilson vigorously disputed the General's claims regarding any such conversation touching on his wife's "employment," according to Art Moore on "
WorldNetDaily".Art Moore, [http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47289 "The Plame Game: General Wants Wilson Apology: Threatened Again with Lawsuit Over Claim of 'Outing' CIA Wife,"] " WorldNetDaily", November 8, 2005, accessed September 19, 2006.] According to Moore, Wilson has also labeled these further claims "slanderous," while serving notice of possible legal repercussions on Vallely, McInerney, and " WorldNetDaily".
Others' responses to the claims
Whether or not there was an occasion for the alleged exchange to occur is disputed. According to
Brit Humeof Fox News, "Vallely and Wilson appeared on the same day nine times in 2002, and on the same show twice — on September 8 and September 12, when both men appeared within 15 minutes of one another.""Special Report with Brit Hume," [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0%2C2933%2C175227%2C00.html "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire?"] FoxNews, November 11, 2005.]
According to the investigation by
Media Matters for America, contradicting such allegations by Batchelor on his radio show, it has become clear that Vallely did not have any such firsthand experience of his own pertaining to Wilson's wife's "employment".
Pertinence to Wilson of Armitage's acknowledging role in leak
In their recent book "Hubris", Michael Isikoff and David Corn assert that it was
Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State, who first revealed that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA to Robert Novaksometime before July 8, 2003. [ Michael Isikoffand David Corn, "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War" (New York: Crown, [Sept. 8] 2006). ISBN 0-307-34681-1.] In late August 2006, along with advance publicity for the book, news accounts and editorials began focusing on that public revelation: "Richard L. Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state, has acknowledged that he was the person whose conversation with a columnist in 2003 prompted a long, politically laden criminal investigation in what became known as the C.I.A. leak case, a lawyer involved in the case said on Tuesday [August 29, 2006] ."Neil A. Lewis, [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/30/washington/30armitage.html "Source of C.I.A. Leak Said to Admit Role"] , " The New York Times", August 30, 2006, accessed January 7, 2008.] On the basis of Armitage's public disclosure, an editorial published in the Washington Poston September 1, 2006 headlined "End of an Affair" concludes "that the person who exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame was not out to punish her husband," adding:
It now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming — falsely, as it turned out — that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/31/AR2006083101460.html "End of an Affair:] It Turns Out That the Person Who Exposed CIA Agent Valerie Plame Was Not Out to Punish Her Husband", "
The Washington Post", September 1, 2006: A20.]
Wilson and his wife amended their lawsuit to add Armitage as a defendant along with Vice President Dick Cheney and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. According to their complaint, Richard Armitage was being sued individually (independently of his White House colleagues) for having nevertheless also violated Plame's right to privacy and property (ability to make a living), while not reducing the culpability of the others as claimed.
In a column posted in TownHall.com on 14 September 2006, however, Novak disputes details of Armitage's contemporaneous media accounts of their conversations, offering a politically-charged reinterpretation of their contexts:
Richard Armitagefinally acknowledged last week he was my source three years ago in revealing Valerie Plame Wilsonas a CIA employee, the former deputy secretary of state's interviews obscured what he really did. I want to set the record straight based on firsthand knowledge.
First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he "thought" might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson. Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column.
An accurate depiction of what Armitage actually said deepens the irony of him being my source. He was a foremost internal skeptic of the administration's war policy, and long had opposed military intervention in Iraq. Zealous foes of George W. Bush transformed me improbably into the president's lapdog. But they cannot fit Armitage into the left-wing fantasy of a well-crafted White House conspiracy to destroy Joe and Valerie Wilson. The news that he and not Karl Rove was the leaker was devastating news for the Left. [
Robert Novak, [http://www.townhall.com/columnists/RobertDNovak/2006/09/14/armitages_leak "Armitage's Leak"] , " [http://www.townhall.com TownHall.com] ", September 14, 2006, accessed September 17, 2006.]
Robert Novak's own conclusion that the identification of Armitage is "devastating news" for "the Left" in its attempts to corroborate what Novak calls the "left-wing fantasy of a well-crafted White House conspiracy to destroy Joe and Valerie Wilson," former Ambassador Wilson continues to enjoy support among investigative journalists and others in both the mainstream mediaand the alternative mediawho believe that such a "conspiracy" did exist and that its cover up may still exist, such as Frank Rich("The Greatest Story Ever Sold") and Robert Parry("U.S. Press Bigwigs Screw Up, Again" and "How Obtuse Is the U.S. Press?").
In the "October/November Preview" published in the "American Journalism Review" (Philip Merrill College of Journalism,
University of Maryland, College Park), AJR's editor and senior vice president Rem Rieder argued that the disclosure that Richard Armitagewas Robert Novak's "primary source" in "Plamegate" was insufficiently covered in the media.Rem Rieder, [http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=4184 "October/November Preview: Whatever"] : "After Months of Saturation Plamegate Coverage, the Media Couldn’t Work Up Much Excitement When the Person Who Revealed Valerie Plame’s CIA Role Was Identified", " American Journalism Review" (Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park), Aug./Sept. 2006, accessed September 19, 2006.]
Other journalists' responses to Wilson
In "A White House Smear," based in part on an interview with Ambassador Wilson and published in "
The Nation" on 15 July 2003, David Cornasks:
Is it relevant that Wilson's wife might have suggested him for the unpaid gig [to Niger] ? Not really. And Wilson notes, with a laugh, that at that point their twins were two years old, and it would not have been much in his wife's interest to encourage him to head off to Africa. What matters is that Wilson returned with the right answer and dutifully reported his conclusions. (In March 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that the documents upon which the Niger allegation was based were amateurish forgeries.) His wife's role—if she had one—has nothing but anecdotal value. And Novak's sources could have mentioned it without providing her name. Instead, they were quite generous.
. . . .
The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's
counter-proliferationefforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security. David Corn, [http://www.thenation.com/capitalgames/index.mhtml?bid=3&pid=823 "A White House Smear"] , " The Nation", July 15, 2003, accessed September 23, 2006.]
Like Isikoff and Corn, later journalists in the
mainstream media, independent journalists, interviewed CIA agents, and other skeptics of the George W. Bush administrationstill vigorously dispute its frequently-repeated claims and earlier testimony of some CIA agents that the purchase of the aluminum tubes by Iraq constitutes "proof" of a renewed nuclear enrichment program for the eventual production of weapons of mass destruction. Such ongoing questioning of these controversial and hotly-debated claims tends to support Wilson's arguments about such rationales for the 2003 invasion of Iraqbeing part of a "fabric of lies, distortions, and misinformation that it [the administration] had woven and fed the world to justify its war" in his 2004 book " The Politics of Truth" (414-15). [See, e.g., Frank Rich, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina" (New York: Penguin Press, 2006), as cited in book rev. by Ian Buruma, [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/17/books/review/Buruma.t.html "Theater of War,"] " New York Times" September 17, 2006, sec. 7 (Book Rev.): 10, cols. 2-3.]
According to Michael Currie Schaffer of "
The New Republic" (TNR), "anti-Wilson sniping extends beyond those who buy the right-wing spin that he's a liar." Schaffer noted that he was called a "'blowhard'" in an editorial by " The Washington Post" in March 2007, that " The Village Voice" objected to Wilson's "pompous-ass style," and that TNR Editor-in-Chief Martin Peretzclaimed he "wasn't much of an ambassador either" because he "served in puny Sao Tome and Principe."Michael Currie Schaffer, [http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w071607&s=schaffer071907 "Joseph Wilson’s Selfless Self-Promotion: Hot Air"] , " The New Republic" July 19, 2007, accessed August 4, 2007. (3 pages.) (Posted at "TNR Online"; subscribers-only access notice, though otherwise accessible.)] But after acknowledging, "So, just for the sake of argument, let's stipulate that Joe Wilson is a Beltway mediocrity who has shamelessly gone from blowing the whistle to blowing his own horn," Schaffer concludes: "Well, thank God for that." In Wilson's defense, Schaffer points out that although "The real Wilson ... turned out to be more Bonfire of the Vanitiesthan Smiley's People--willing, in fact, eager for the sort of camera-hogging, ad hominem bomb-throwing, and below-the-belt punching that grabs a distracted country's attention," we should actually "appreciate him for that, not in spite of it," because:
However self-interested he may have been, the flames Wilson fanned were more than just a partisan victory for people who thrill at seeing Bush get singed. It's hard to remember now, but when Wilson began his media run, there was little talk about the selling of the war, few questions about official mendacity, and not much of a narrative about the way the administration deals with dissent. Lord knows that most of the establishment types who sneer at Wilson weren't talking about such things. There are plenty of other reasons, some more important than Wilson, why we talk about them now. But not many have resulted from the low-key pose we seem to wish on him.
Moreover, whereas a true power-broker who "hewed to the behavioral standards of the Washington elite," former Secretary of State
Colin Powell, "one of the few people in the world who might have stopped the Iraq train wreck," is now "just an ex-secretary of State who confers decorously with fellow has-beens in Aspen," Schaffer concludes finally, "There's a reason a nobody like Joe Wilson is the one pitching his story to Hollywood": "the blowhard, it turns out, is the one who mattered."
Wilson's reactions to the Libby trial and commutation
In response to the verdict on
March 6, 2007, finding Lewis Libbyguilty of four of the five charges in the Fitzgerald grand jury indictment against him, the Wilsons issued a statement in a press release posted on the website of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. They stated that they respected the jury's verdict and believed justice was done, as well as affirming their commitment to pursuing their civil suit. [http://www.citizensforethics.org/press/newsrelease.php?view=205 "Statement in Response to Jury's Verdict in U.S. v. I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby"] , press release, online posting, " Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington" (CREW), March 6, 2007, accessed March 18, 2007.]
Wilson harshly criticized President
George W. Bush's July 2, 2007commutation of Lewis Libby's prison sentence, calling it "a cover-upof the Vice President's role in this matter and quite possibly the role of the President and/or some of his senior White House advisers."For Wilson's full published statement in response to the commutation and the press conference about it by President Bush's press spokesman Tony Snow, see Joseph C. Wilson, [http://www.citizensforethics.org/node/29261 "Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson's Response] to Bush Spokesman Tony Snow's Comments at Today's White House Briefing", online posting, " Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington" (CREW), 3 July, 2007, accessed 4 July, 2007; online posting, [http://www.wilsonsupport.org/home "Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson's Response ... "] and [http://www.wilsonsupport.org/node/422 "Read more"] , " [http://www.wilsonsupport.org/home Joseph and Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust] " (Home page), n.d., accessed 8 July, 2007.] Wilson also complained that the President's action and others' actions leading to President Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence could seriously damage United Statesnational security by harming its intelligence capability. Keith Olbermann, interview of Joseph C. Wilson, [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNZm1EMAmKg Video clip] , " YouTube", " Countdown", MSNBC, 2 July, 2007, accessed 3 July, 2007.]
Warner Bros. feature film
On the evening of the verdict in the Libby trial, Joseph C. Wilson appeared on "
Larry King Live", during which he announced that he and his wife had "signed a deal with Warner Bros of Hollywood to offer their consulting services - or maybe more - in the making of the forthcoming movie about the Libby trial," their lives and the CIA leak scandal.Matt Frei [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6425311.stm "Washington diary: Libby, the Movie"] , " BBC News" (Washington) March 7, 2007, accessed March 18, 2007; cf. transcript of Larry King interview with Joseph C. Wilson, [http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0703/06/lkl.01.html "Ex-Cheney Aide Found Guilty"] , " Larry King Live", CNN, broadcast March 6, 2007, accessed March 18, 2007.] According to an article by Michael Fleming published in "Variety" earlier in the week, the feature film, a co-production between Weed Road's Akiva Goldsmanand Jerry and Janet Zucker of Zucker Productionswith a screenplay by Jez and John Butterworth to be based in part on Valerie Wilson's then still-forthcoming book "Fair Game", whose publication, in October 2007, after a delay of two months, was contingent on CIA clearances.Michael Fleming, [http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117960398.html?categoryid=13&cs=1 "Plame Film in Works at Warner Bros.: Studio Sets Movie about CIA Leak Scandal"] , "Variety", March 1, 2007, accessed March 18, 2007.]
The Wilsons' civil suit
July 13, 2006, a civil suit was filed by Joseph and Valerie Wilson against Vice President Dick Cheney, his former Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, top Presidential advisor Karl Rove, and other unnamed senior White House officials (among whom they later added Richard Armitage), for their alleged role in the public disclosure of Valerie Wilson's classified CIA status. [ Proskauer RoseLLP, [http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/060713/20060713005646.html?.v=1 "Valerie Plame Wilson and Ambassador Joseph Wilson Initiate a Civil Action] Against Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby for Violations of their Constitutional and Other Legal Rights", " YahooBusiness Wire" (Press Release), July 13, 2006, accessed July 15, 2006; cf. PDFlink| [http://howappealing.law.com/PlameAddressOrder.pdf "Lame Plame Game Flames Out"] |41.8 KiB , rpt. in "How Appealing" (blog), July 13, 2006, accessed July 15. 2006.] On September 13, 2006, Joseph and Valerie Wilson amended their original lawsuit, adding Richard Armitageas a fourth defendant. Melanie Sloan, Executive Director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington(CREW), press release, as qtd. in [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/13/politics/main2006236.shtml "Armitage Added to Plame Law Suit"] , " CBS News", September 13, 2006, accessed September 25, 2006; accessed January 7, 2008; includes hyperlinked amended complaint, PDFlink| [http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/wilson091306.pdf Document 8] in Civil Action No. 06-1258 (JDB)|183 KiB . ( Cf.[http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/plame/wilsonlibby91306acmp.html Amended complaint] at "FindLaw.com".)] Unlike their charges against Rove, Cheney, and Libby, "claiming that they had violated her constitutional rights and discredited her by disclosing that she was an undercover CIA operative," the Wilsons sued Armitage "for violating the 'Wilsons' constitutional right to privacy, Mrs. Wilson's constitutional right to property, and for committing the tort of publication of private facts.'"
United States District Court for the District of ColumbiaJudge John D. Batesdismissed the Wilson's lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds on July 19, 2007, stating that the Wilsons had not shown that the case belonged in federal court. Associated Press, [http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-07-19-plame-lawsuit_N.htm "Valerie Plame's Lawsuit Dismissed"] , " USA Today", July 19, 2007, accessed 19 July, 2007.] [ [http://us.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/07/19/cia.leak/index.html "Judge Tosses Out Ex-Spy's Lawsuit Against Cheney in CIA Leak Case"] , "CNN.com", July 19, 2007, accessed July 19, 2007.] Carol D. Leonnig, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/19/AR2007071901395.html?hpid=topnews "Plame's Lawsuit Against Top Officials Dismissed"] , " The Washington Post", 20 July, 2007, accessed 20 July, 2007.] [https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2006cv1258-52 "Memorandum Opinion"] , in "Valerie Wilson, et al., Plaintiffs, v. I. Lewis Libby, Jr., et al., Defendants", "Civil Action No. 06-1258 (JDB)", " United States District Court for the District of Columbia", 19 July, 2007, accessed 20 July, 2007.] Bates also ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction over the claim because the couple had not yet exhausted their administrative remedies. Bates stated that the lawsuit raised "important questions relating to the propriety of actions undertaken by our highest government officials" but also noted that "there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials," even if "the alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr. Wilson's comments and attack his credibility" were perhaps "highly unsavory."Qtd. in Matt Apuzzo ( Associated Press), " [http://www.denverpost.com/extremes/ci_6414426 "Plame Lawsuit Dismissed in CIA Leak Case"] , " The Denver Post", July 19, 2007, accessed July 19, 2007.]
July 20, 2007, Ms. Sloan and the Wilsons announced publicly that they had filed an appeal of the U.S. District Court's decision to dismiss their law suit. [http://www.wilsonsupport.org/home Joseph and Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust] Home Page, [July 20, 2007] , accessed July 27, 2007. Cf. [http://www.citizensforethics.org/node/29517 "Statement on Ambassador Joseph and Valerie Wilsons' Appeal Filed on July 20"] , " Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington" (CREW), July 20, 2007, accessed July 27, 2007.] The appeal was heard on May 9, 2008, and its outcome is still pending.
CIA leak scandal timeline
Downing Street memo
Iraqi aluminum tubes
Niger uranium forgeries
September Dossier("Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Assessment of the British Government")
* [http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_wilson.html "Bill Moyers Talks to Joseph C. Wilson, IV"] . Transcript of interview. "PBS.org",
February 28, 2003. Accessed August 14, 2007.
* [http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0405/03/lkl.00.html "CNN Larry King Live Interview With Joseph Wilson"] . "Rush Transcript". "
Larry King Live", May 3, 2004. Accessed August 14, 2007.
*" [http://www.nytimes.com/ref/washington/2006_LEAKTIMELINE_GRAPHIC.html?currentcasetype=Wilson Interactive Graphic: Timeline of a Leak] " in "
The New York Times" online (NYTimes.com). Accessed August 14, 2007.
*" [http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/joseph_c_th_wilson/index.html Joseph C. Wilson 4th] " from "Times Topics" (NYTimes.com). Accessed
August 14, 2007.
*" [http://wilsonsupport.org/ Joseph and Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust] ". Accessed
January 8, 2008.
* [http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Joseph_C._Wilson_IV "Profile: Joseph C. Wilson IV"] at "
SourceWatch" (A Project of the Center for Media & Democracy). Updated November 6, 2007. Accessed January 7, 2008.
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