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 management and international-business development." In January 2007, Wilson joined Jarch Capital, LLC, as vice chairman, to advise the firm's expansion in areas of Africa considered "politically sensitive."
A United States Foreign Service diplomat before retiring in 1998, Wilson was posted to African nations and Iraq during the George H. W. Bush administration and later served as Special Assistant to U.S. President Bill Clinton and 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 yellowcake from Niger. He concluded that the George W. Bush administration twisted intelligence to "exaggerate the Iraqi threat."
The week after the article's publication, Robert Novak disclosed 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," the investigation resulted in a federal criminal trial United States v. Libby in 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.
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. 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).
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. From 1992 to 1995, he served as U.S. ambassador to Gabon and 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 Clinton and as NSC Senior Director for African Affairs.
Early in 2007, Wilson became vice chairman of Jarch Capital, LLC. 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.
Over the years, Wilson has made contributions to the campaigns of Democratic candidates, such as Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Congressman Charles B. Rangel of New York, and to Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California. 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). 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 Kerry for 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). 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 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. Wilson has endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. He has made speeches on her behalf and has attended fundraisers for the campaign. After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Wilson supported activist groups like Win Without War, a nonpartisan coalition of groups united in opposition to the Iraq War; this anti-war activism has drawn criticism from conservatives (The Politics of Truth 381). 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']."
In 2004, Wilson published a political and personal memoir entitled The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir. 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 House on 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]).
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.
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.
The foundation for the Wilson assertions was undermined by the Senate Intelligence Committee report (page 17) , the Butler Committee report and Joseph Wilson himself 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."
On 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.
In the last two paragraphs of his op-ed, Wilson relates his perspective to the Bush administration's rationale for the Iraq War:
I was convinced before the war that the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein required 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 Nations resolutions. 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.
On 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.
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?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. 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.)
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 Press interview with Andrea Mitchell on 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."
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 address have 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." 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 Niger in 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.
Critics of the Bush administration's position, agreeing with former Ambassador Wilson, view the evidence relating to the Democratic Republic of Congo as 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 Fleischer stated 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.
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." In his memoir, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, 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."
The July 11, 2003 CIA Statement by Director George Tenet states: "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."
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."
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 Iraq and the rationale for the Iraq War in his 2007 memoir At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA 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 yellowcake from African nations such as Niger and its actual lack of following through on such attempts.
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."
Nuclear expert Norman Dombey has pointed out that the information relied upon by the Butler Review on 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." 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."
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."
In their news report "A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic", published in the same Washington Post issue as "A Good Leak", however, National Security Correspondent 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. 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).
A few days later Dafna Linzer published another article in the Washington Post describing a letter from Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald to 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."
Replying to complaints from various readers, the Washington Post ombudsman, Deborah Howell, notes that in their front-page news report Barton Gellman and 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.
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 vigorously disputed the General's claims regarding any such conversation touching on his wife's "employment," according to Art Moore on WorldNetDaily. According to Moore, Wilson has also labeled these further claims "slanderous," while serving notice of possible legal repercussions on Vallely, McInerney, and WorldNetDaily.
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".
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.
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:
When Richard Armitage finally acknowledged last week he was my source three years ago in revealing Valerie Plame Wilson as 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.
Despite 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 media and the alternative media who 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 Armitage was Robert Novak's "primary source" in "Plamegate" was insufficiently covered in the media.
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-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security.
Like Isikoff and Corn, later journalists in the mainstream media, independent journalists, interviewed CIA agents, and other skeptics of the George W. Bush administration still 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 Iraq being 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).
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 Peretz claimed he "wasn't much of an ambassador either" because he "served in puny Sao Tome and Principe." 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 Vanities than 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 harshly criticized President George W. Bush's July 2, 2007 commutation of Lewis Libby's prison sentence, calling it "a cover-up of 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." 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 States national security by harming its intelligence capability.