Joseph Wilson will discuss Bush Administration misdeeds at CSUMB.
Thursday, December 1, 2005
ack in 2002, retired diplomat Joseph Wilson accepted an assignment to travel to Niger to determine if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had bought uranium from the West African nation.
Wilson’s trip wasn’t public—yet. But it would soon trigger a series of events that would undermine the Bush administration’s rationale for going to war, ruin the CIA career of his wife, Valerie Plame, and shame the White House.
Upon returning to the US, Wilson reported to his bosses that he had found no evidence that Niger had supplied uranium to Iraq. But the opposite conclusion appeared in President George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
Wilson knew that these now-infamous 16 words were false.
And after the president announced the “mission accomplished” in Iraq, Wilson decided to speak out.
On July 6, 2003, he wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times, titled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” accusing the president of “exaggerating the Iraqi threat” to justify the war. Twenty-four hours later, the White House conceded the 16 words should not have been in the State of the Union.
And then the smear campaign began.
On Dec. 7, Wilson will discuss his new book, The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity, at CSU Monterey Bay.
“Mr. Wilson’s message—follow your conscience, act ethically and responsibly, and be faithful to your values—resonates with our Vision Statement,” says David Anderson, dean of the College of University Studies and Programs, which is sponsoring the event.
Wilson, a former ambassador to Iraq in the days leading up to the first Gulf War, will also sign copies of his book.
“I think it’s appropriate that he speak out,” says Rep. Sam Farr, “And I’m glad that he is speaking out.
“There’s two issues in Washington: One is how did so many people get misled by this administration? But the more critical issue is that we have troops in Iraq. How do we get them home, safe? What is needed now—and I hope [Wilson] directs some of his remarks to this—is what is it going to take to get us out of Iraq? It’s going take US leadership, but we’ve got to get countries from the Middle East involved.”
In his book, Wilson tells stories from his life as a long-time foreign service officer. In the run-up to the 1991 Gulf War, Wilson was the last US diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein. He gave refuge to more than 100 US citizens at the embassy during a time when Hussein was threatening to execute anyone who harbored foreigners. President George H.W. Bush called Wilson a “true American hero” upon his return to the US.
The book also gives Wilson’s personal account of his decision to criticize the Bush administration. He also describes the devastating impact that Robert Novak’s column, which identified Plame as a CIA operative, had on their lives.
In late October, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was indicted in the Plame leak case. (Libby is among the men Wilson names in his book as those whom he suspected of leaking Plame’s identity.) Shortly after, Wilson released a statement: “The attacks on Valerie and me were upsetting, disruptive and vicious. Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months.
“But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime.
“The war in Iraq has claimed more than 17,000 dead and wounded American soldiers, many times more Iraqi casualties and close to $200 billion…We anticipate no mea culpa from the president for what his senior aids have done to us. But he owes the nation both an explanation and an apology.”
WILSON WILL DISCUSS “THE POLITICS OF TRUTH” AT 7PM ON TUESDAY, DEC. 6 IN THE UNIVERSITY CENTER BALLROOM, BUILDING 29, 100 CAMPUS CENTER, CSUMB, SEASIDE. ADMISSION IS FREE. 582-3000.