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Joseph Wilson

Posted on Nov 28, 2005

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson to speak Dec. 6

Joseph Wilson, former U.S. diplomat and husband of exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame, will discuss "The Politics of Truth" at 7 p.m., Dec. 6 in the University Center ballroom.

Wilson was called a "true American hero" by former president George H.W. Bush for his many years of diplomatic service, including his face-to-face confrontations with Saddam Hussein in the days leading up to the first Gulf War. He may well have faded quietly into the sunset had he not written an opinion piece for The New York Times in which he accused President George W. Bush of "exaggerating the Iraqi threat" in order to justify war, specifically with respect to Iraq's alleged attempts to acquire uranium from Niger. Shortly thereafter, columnist Robert Novak noted that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative, a revelation that was potentially a criminal offense.

Wilson charged that Plame's CIA status was deliberately exposed by Bush administration officials, as retaliation for his public charge that U.S. intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was largely a conspiracy to falsify and fabricate evidence to support the war.

"Mr. Wilson's message - follow your conscience, act ethically and responsibly, and be faithful to your values - resonates with our Vision Statement," said David Anderson, dean of the College of University Studies and Programs, which is sponsoring the event. "That's why we invited him."

The former ambassador will also sign copies of his book, "The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed my Wife's CIA Identity." Copies will be for sale in the UC lobby.

In his book, Wilson details more than two decades of foreign service, in addition to giving his personal account of the events leading to his decision to go public with his criticisms of the Bush administration, and what he views as an orchestrated attack by administration officials in retaliation for his coming forward.

The controversy surrounding Wilson began with President Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address, in which the President said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Wilson's editorial, titled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," was published on July 6, 2003. The next day, White House aides said that the State of the Union Address should not have contained the reference. And Secretary of State Colin Powell, then traveling with the president in Africa, gave a news conference addressing the issue.

President Bush appointed Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald to determine whether any federal laws had been violated in the revelation of Plame's identity. Fitzgerald's investigation in turn led to contempt of court charges against Time magazine and New York Times reporters Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller, for their refusal to reveal who told them about Plame's identity. Cooper eventually testified it was White House political adviser Karl Rove, while Miller, after 84 days in jail, revealed that her source was Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Libby was then indicted on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements.

The bulk of Wilson's op-ed piece dealt with his trip to Niger in 2002, where he had been sent on behalf of the CIA to investigate the possibility that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy enriched uranium yellow cake. Wilson concluded then that there "was nothing to the story."

About "The Politics of Truth":

"This is a riveting and all-engaging book. Not only does it provide context to yesterday's headlines, and perhaps tomorrow's, about the Iraq war and about our politics of personal destruction, but former Ambassador Joseph Wilson also tells captivating stories from his life as a foreign service officer with a long career fostering the development of African democracies, and gives us a behind-the-scenes blow-by