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Joseph C. Wilson

From Academic Kids

Joseph C. Wilson IV (born November 6, 1949) was a United States career foreign service officer and later a diplomat between 1976 and 1998. He served as ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe under President George H. W. Bush, and helped direct Africa policy for the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. He was hailed as "truly inspiring" and "courageous" by George H. W. Bush after sheltering more than a hundred Americans at the US embassy in Baghdad, and mocking Saddam Hussein's threats to execute anyone who refused to hand over foreigners. As a result, in 1990, he also became the last American diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein (Wilson, 2003).

Wilson achieved wide notoriety due to his involvement in the verification of intelligence regarding Iraq. In 2002 he was sent to Niger to investigate the possibility that uranium-enriched yellowcake had been sold to Iraq. Wilson concluded that since yellowcake mining is managed by an international consortium and supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency, this was unlikely (Wilson, 2003).

Controversy ensued when the British government issued a white paper asserting an imminent threat from Iraq, on the basis of intelligence that later proved to be a forgery. In his 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush referred to attempts by Iraq to acquire uranium from Africa. The Bush Administration explicitly affirmed (Fleischer, 2003) this was based on a reference to Niger, but the later Butler Report confirmed the existence of what they found to be credible intelligence that Iraq was attempting to acquire uranium from Niger, see Yellowcake Forgery, and less certain intelligence that Iraq was attempting to acquire uranium from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Wilson criticized the President over the Niger claims, and shortly thereafter an anonymous source leaked the fact that his wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative to columnist Robert Novak. Wilson accused the Bush administration of attempting to discredit and intimidate him. The U.S. Congress has set up an inquiry to determine who was involved with the leak, headed by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Several months after the scandal broke, Senator Pat Roberts, joined by Christopher Bond and Orrin Hatch, made "additional comments" following the release of the Report of Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq. In these comments they claimed, amongst other things, that Wilson's wife had "suggested her husband for the trip to Niger" and that Wilson had made statements which "were not only incorrect, but had no basis in fact."

Though this entire 'additional commentary' was clearly identified by Senator Roberts as being only his opinions, and its conclusions excluded from the official report, many right wing media outlets reported them as established facts from the report itself. Wilson responded to Roberts claims, pointing to numerous statements by the CIA indicating that his wife did not recommend him for the mission and that the CIA had concurred with Wilson's findings that the Niger link was false prior to the President's mention of that connection in the State of the Union address.

In the imagination of partisans and others, Wilson became both a hero and a villain, depending on their opinions of the Bush administration and the nature of the evidence provided by Wilson and his detractors.

Bush opponents claim Wilson is a brave man who spoke truth to power, a meme that is played up in the title of Wilson's website and his book ('The Politics of Truth'). They consider Wilson and his wife the victims of an ongoing smear campaign orchestrated by a vindictive White House.

Bush supporters consider subsequent revelations both to have reversed evaluations of Wilson’s professions of seeking truth-telling and to have portrayed Wilson as opportunistically pursuing political influence himself (as well as personal fame) at the expense of the credibility of a U.S. President. They see the two considerations together as discrediting his conclusions concerning the administration's use of intelligence data concerning Iraq’s dealings with Niger as well as his claims of victimization (May, Schmidt, 2004).


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References

  • Wilson, Joseph (July 6, 2003). What I didn't find in Africa (http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0706-02.htm). New York Times reprinted at Common Dreams News Center
  • Roberts, Pat (July 9, 2004). Press release (http://roberts.senate.gov/07-09a-2004.htm). Basis for the Susan Schmidt, Clifford May, Robert Novak, and Matthew Continetti articles below.
  • Wilson, Joseph (July 19, 2004). Response to Pat Roberts (http://www.alternet.org/stories/19271) Reprinted at Alternat.

External links

For other individuals with similar names, see Joe Wilson.

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