May 04, 2004

Now either the president was just not being serious when he made that statement, or else his senior staff is disobeying him, or else he doesn't have any authority over his senior staff.

NOTE TO SEN. JOHN F. KERRY (D-Mekong Delta): You must
make the case against the incredible shrinking
_resident for the US electorate, not with rhetoric and
new policies, NO...with the EVIDENCE in the public
record and the TESTIMONY of those who have fled his
own government...Somebody has to link Richard Clark
(R-Reality), Paul O'Neill (R-Alcoa), Joe Wilson
(R-Niger) and others from the National Security
Council (Beers, Cressey), the US State Dept.
(Theilman), the Pentagon (Kwiatowski), the FBI
(Rowley, Edmonds) and even the EPA (Schaffer,
etc.)...Somebody has to read the indictment, John, and
if you are waiting for the "US mainstream news media"
to do it, you will end up with Al Gore. But you are
not a "southern gentleman," you are a WARRIOR and a
PROSECUTOR, John, tap your skills and define yourself
by defining the incredible shrinking _resident as
utterly lacking in CREDIBILITY by the EVIDENCE in the
public record and TESTIMONY of those who have fled his
own government, define yourself by defining him as an
utter INCOMPETENT by the EVIDENCE in the public record
and TESTIMONY of those who have fled his own
government, challenge his CHARACTER by the EVIDENCE of
the public record and the TESTIMONY of those who have
fled his own government...indict him on 9/11,
Iraq, the Economy and the Environment, indict him on
SECURITY...You cannot approach this national
referendum on the incredible shrinking _resident as if
it were a traditional campaign, it is not...We are at
the precipice. It is a NATIONAL EMERGENCY...
P.S. Do not let the DLC pick your VP for you. Do not follow "conventional wisdom." Do the Math (Electoral College), but do not sacrifice the Myth (i.e. "Band of Brothers")...You know the LNS short-list: Wesley Clark (D-NATO), Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fraudida), Sen. Mary Landreiux (D-Lousiana). We know you have to be comfortable with whoever it is, we know that person has to clear some background checks, we know you have deep polling to go on, BUT remember this too, whoever it is has to be capable of the political wet work ahead, and whoever it is has to be able to take over in a heart-beat, both now and after the election. We'll say it again, Kerry-Clark. Wesley will stick the banner of truth where the sun has not shone for a long time. He will be your expert witness on 9/11 and Iraq. Do it, John. Whoever you choose has to be able to weild the political hatchet, whoever you choose has to be able to amplify the Math and add to the Math...We will not second-guess you. We do not know Vilsack, and we could see scenarios in which Dick Gephardt (D-Misery) or John Edwards (D-Carolina) could perform capably, BUT...this campaign is being waged in the midst of a National Emergency, an unprecendented vacuum of CREDIBILITY, CHARACTER and COMPETENCE exists in the White House, and there is a Mega-Mogadishu brewing in Iraq...Choose well, John. Ask Clinton, ask Theresa, ask your own hunter's soul, ignore the others...

Joe Wilson in The Nation: I have all the confidence
that Pat Fitzgerald and the FBI investigators who are
working with him are proceeding aggressively and doing
everything they can to get to the bottom of this. At
the same time, I'm appalled that they haven't gotten
to the bottom of it yet, and I have to conclude that
the reason is because administration officials in the
know are simply stonewalling. The president made it
very clear in a public comment that he expected his
senior officials to cooperate with the investigation
because he wanted to get to the bottom of it. Now either the president was just not being serious when he made that statement, or else his senior staff is disobeying him, or else he doesn't have any authority over his senior staff. You take your pick. We have both spoken to the FBI. But we don't talk about the

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

An Interview With Joseph Wilson
04/30/2004 @ 3:38pm
E-mail this Post
On the morning of July 14, 2003, I was reading Bob
Novak's column in The Washington Post. He was doing
his best to defend the Bush administration from the
red-hot charge that George W. Bush had misled the
country during the State of the Union address when he
declared that "Saddam Hussein recently sought
significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Months
after the speech, this sentence triggered a
near-scandal, for it turned out there had been no
strong factual basis for the allegation, which was
meant to suggest Hussein was close to acquiring
nuclear weapons. The White House asserted it had had
no reason to be wary about using this piece of
information. Then, on July 6, 2003, former ambassador
Joseph Wilson wrote a piece in The New York Times and
publicly revealed that in February 2002 he had been
sent to Niger by the CIA to examine the allegation and
had reported back there was no evidence to support
this claim. Prior to his Times article, Wilson, the
last acting U.S. ambassador in Iraq, had been one of
the more prominent opponents of the Iraq war. Yet he
had not used the information he possessed about Bush's
misuse of the Niger allegation to score points while
debating the war. His much-noticed Times op-ed was a
blow for the White House, and Republicans and
conservatives struck back. One front in that
counterattack was the Novak column.

"His wife, Valerie Plame," Novak wrote, "is an Agency
operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior
administration officials told me Wilson's wife
suggested sending him to Niger to investigate" the
Niger charge. With this passage, Novak blew the cover
of Wilson's wife, who had worked clandestinely for the
CIA for years. I immediately called Wilson, whom I had
gotten to know over the past months and whom I had
recruited to write for The Nation. Somewhat jokingly,
I said, "You never told me Valerie was CIA." He
responded, "I still can't." As we discussed the Novak
column, it became clear to me that this
leak--apparently part of an effort to discredit and/or
punish Wilson for opposing the White House--had ruined
his wife's career as a clandestine officer, undermined
her work in the important field of
counterproliferation, and perhaps even endangered her
and her contacts. And it might have been against the
law. I told Wilson about the 1982 Intelligence
Identities Protection Act, which made it a serious
federal crime for a government official to reveal the
identity of a covert officer. He and his wife were
unaware of the law. The following day, I checked
further and concluded that it was possible that White
House officials--or "administration sources," as Novak
put it--had indeed broken the law.

On July 16, 2003, I wrote a piece that appeared in
this space noting that the Wilsons had been slimed by
the Bush administration and that this leak might have
harmed national security and violated the 1982 law. It
was the first article to report that the leak was a
possible White House crime. Few reporters in
Washington paid attention to the story, but the posted
piece received a tremendous flood of traffic. Not
until two months later, when the news broke that the
CIA had asked the Justice Department to conduct an
investigation, did the Wilson leak story go big-time.

Since then, Attorney General John Ashcroft has recused
himself from the matter, and Patrick Fitzgerald, the
U.S. attorney in Chicago, has been investigating.
Reporters and observers have spent months guessing and
theorizing about the identities of the leakers and
wondering whether the leak investigation is
progressing. In his new book, The Politics of Truth:
Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's
CIA Identity, Wilson writes that he was told by a
source that in March 2002 (months before he went
public on his Niger trip but while he was a vocal
critic of the march to war) the Office of the Vice
President held a meeting in which a decision was made
to do a "workup" on Wilson--that is, to dig up dirt on
him. As for the leakers, Wilson writes that after
talking to reporters and others he believes it was
"quite possibly" Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's
chief of staff, who exposed his wife's identity. He
also writes, "The other name that has most often been
repeated to me in connection with the inquiry and
disclosure into my background and Valerie's is that of
Elliott Abrams, [a National Security Council aide] who
gained infamy in the Iran-Contra scandal during the
first Bush administration." Moreover, Wilson maintains
that Bush strategist Karl Rove was instrumental in
disseminating information about him and his wife.

Wilson doesn't have proof. He is essentially sharing
hunches and leads. (An April 30, 2004, New York Daily
News story, citing an "inside source," reports that
Fitzgerald's probe has been focused on Libby and
Rove.) But Wilson's book is far more than an account
of the leak affair and Nigergate. He writes breezily
about his years as a smooth and assertive foreign
service officer (including his rather dramatic
face-off against Saddam Hussein in 1990, when Wilson
was the last acting ambassador in Iraq before the
first Gulf War), and he passionately chronicles his
role in the public debate that preceded Bush's
invasion of Iraq. (Disclosure: he has several kind
references to me in the book.) The night before his
book was to be released, he talked with me about the
leak, his wife, the war, and what lies ahead in Iraq.

In 2000, you donated $1000 to George W. Bush's
presidential campaign. Why? Any regrets?

I thought he would be the better of the two Republican
presidential candidates then in the running. When he
talked about compassionate conservatism, it seemed as
if he was interested in reprising the first Bush
administration. I had been happy with parts of its
foreign policy. But after Bush lost the New Hampshire
primary and tacked hard to the right in South Carolina
to beat John McCain, it was clear to me he was not a
good choice. I declined to sign a letter of former
ambassadors supporting him. About that contribution--I
was wrong. I admit my error.

When I called you the morning of July 14, 2003, about
the Novak column, you initially said you were not
eager for anyone to write about the matter. Did you
believe that the impact of the leak could be

It was not that I thought it could be contained. I did
not want to add additional fuel to the fire. I
believed that the appropriate point of inquiry was the
CIA. When I first I read it, I realized that only if
150 people in the entire world had seen the column,
you could be sure that 149 of them were heads of
intelligence services here in D.C. I understood the
importance to Val's career and the security
implications. After all, CIA station chiefs in Beirut
and Greece had been assassinated.

You talked with Novak before the column appeared. Did
you ask him not to identify your wife?

He said he had it from a CIA source and he was looking
for a confirmation. I said I would not say anything
about my wife. He then wrote it had come from "two
senior administration officials." I then called him
and said, "Well which was it--a CIA source, or
administration sources?" He said he had misspoken the
first time. If you're a journalist who's been in this
town a long time, it seems to me you know your way in
and out of questions of sourcing. The serious
journalists I've spoken to over the years have all
been very precise about their sources. I did find this
lack of precision curious.

What do you think that means?

I have no idea. And then afterwards, Novak was quoted
as saying he had contacted the CIA and it had told him
not to go with the story. But apparently he didn't
understand some part of that no. [Editor's note: Novak
says he received what he considered to be a weak
request from the CIA not to publish Valerie Plame's
name.] Maybe because they didn't scream he assumed he
could get away with it. And it appears he has.

Why did the leak receive not a lot of notice at first?

I have no idea what drives the news cycle.

Did you try to bring it to the attention of other

No. Principally because Valerie and I realized that
for all the hardship it may have imposed upon us, the
real crime was the crime against the national security
of the country and the responsibility for
investigating that crime lay with the appropriate
authorities. We have tried to avoid giving the
impression that we thought of ourselves as victims. We
thought that the country was the victim.

What's been the attitude at the CIA about the leak?

I only know what I've heard and what I've seen
publicly. I have not been in touch with the CIA since
I came back from Niger. Valerie has, of course, but we
don't talk about it. But I think it's safe to say that
those of her former colleagues who have spoken out
publicly have made it very clear that there has been a
breach of trust between the clandestine service of the
CIA and the White House.

Has CIA chief George Tenet said anything publicly
about the leak or the investigation?

I haven't seen anything. I don't know. I probably
would have noticed. But I might not have.

Is Valerie still working at the CIA?

She still works there. She still goes to work every
day. Obviously her job has changed and her ability to
do certain things has been lost. There are things she
will not be able to do in the future. And we'll see in
the long term how this works out.

Is she still working in the counterproliferation

I can't tell you that.

Have you heard from the federal investigators

Not in a while. I have all the confidence that Pat
Fitzgerald and the FBI investigators who are working
with him are proceeding aggressively and doing
everything they can to get to the bottom of this. At
the same time, I'm appalled that they haven't gotten
to the bottom of it yet, and I have to conclude that
the reason is because administration officials in the
know are simply stonewalling. The president made it
very clear in a public comment that he expected his
senior officials to cooperate with the investigation
because he wanted to get to the bottom of it. Now
either the president was just not being serious when
he made that statement, or else his senior staff is
disobeying him, or else he doesn't have any authority
over his senior staff. You take your pick. We have
both spoken to the FBI. But we don't talk about the

But in your book you speculate about the source of the

It's not so much that I'm voicing my speculation. It
is more that I am sharing with people outside the
Beltway what credible sources here in Washington have
shared with me. And what they have gleaned is that as
early as March there was a meeting in the offices of
the Vice President at which the decision was made to
do a workup on me. The cause of this was my appearance
on CNN when I was asked about forged documents [that
contained the allegation about Iraqi uranium-shopping
in Niger] and about the State Department spokesman's
statement that the United States had simply fallen for
these forgeries. I said that I believed that if the
U.S. government looked into its files it would find
that it knew far more about the Niger business than
the State Department spokesman was letting on. And I
went further and said that I thought that the State
Department spokesman was either being disingenuous or
else was so far out of the loop he didn't deserve to
pick up the meager salary that they pay those guys.
Typical hyperbole from me.

So you believe this signaled to the White House that
you knew--because of your trip to Niger a year
earlier--that the we-were-duped cover story was false?
And that because of this, White House officials felt
threatened by you and ordered a so-called "workup" on
Joe Wilson?

Which I interpreted to mean they basically mounted an
intelligence operation to find out everything they
could on me and my habits and everything else. Which
in and of itself I find rather appalling. Who's
responsible for running intelligence operations or
doing investigations on people? It certainly isn't the
White House.

Maybe in the Nixon administration.

Maybe that's where these guys learned this.

As you know, it is possible that Fitzgerald could
conduct a thorough investigation and still at the end
of the day conclude there is not enough evidence to
prosecute anyone. In that case, have you considered
calling for the release of a public report that would
describe what his investigators learned?

I haven't. I've had some chats with people up on the
Hill about this. Given that I'm not a victim, I have
no particular standing to make such a request. The
people who have standing to do so are members of
Congress. I think that some would be very interested
in doing this. I believe it's important to understand
that whether or not the special counsel finds evidence
of a crime that enables him to prosecute, it is an
irrefutable fact that the national security of the
United States has been violated. The person who did
this falls into the category of what George H.W. Bush
once called the "most insidious of traitors." So they
can hide behind a criminal investigation--which is
what of course the administration is doing--but that
does not get them out from under the charge that
somebody decided that his or her political agenda was
more important than the national security of my
country and that this person was prepared to betray a
national security asset to defend that agenda. And
that person could still be in their position and still
have security clearance.

Your detractors on the right say you're a publicity
hound who has tried to exploit the leak and cash in by
writing a book. Your response?

I don't know quite how to respond to that other than
to make the point that for the better part of six
months in 2003, I worked behind the scenes,
maintaining my anonymity, to try and encourage the
government to 'fess up to the [uranium-from-Niger]
falsehood that was in the president's State of the
Union Address. That was nothing more or less than
doing one's civic duty. I did not insert those sixteen
words into the president's speech, and I wasn't part
of the conspiracy to leak the name of a national
security asset. If you read the book, you find it is
far more than a diatribe against this administration.
It also recounts my career in some of the most
difficult places in the world, where I often was
working on issues of war and peace. I would submit to
you that it is probably far more substantive than the
recent book published by [Bush adviser] Karen Hughes.

Before the war, you were one of the few former
diplomats--establishment types--who were out there
vigorously and consistently opposing the Bush
administration on the question of war in Iraq. Why
were there not more? Were you lonely?

There were a number of people who offered thoughtful
commentary. But a number of very close friends of mine
found the stridency of the other side to be really
off-putting and found that it was extraordinarily
difficult to have the serious debate that this country
deserved before we went to war. They held back. Those
people are clearly smarter than I am. The people who
spoke out acted on their own consciences and on their
own sense of what was doable. But there was a sense in
some parts of this town that the deal was done and
that the key decisions had already been made--which in
retrospect seems to have been the case. I always
thought that a vigorous debate would have yielded what
I thought was the right approach: diplomacy backed by
the credible threat of force. You had to be prepared
to use force, but if you were going to use the force,
it needed to be targeted at the national security
objective you wanted to achieve. You needed to have in
the calculation some risk/reward, some cost/benefit
analyses. It always seemed to me that the invasion,
conquest and occupation of Iraq as a means of
disarming Hussein was the highest risk, lowest reward
option, particularly when it was clear that UN
Security Council Resolution 1441 [which led to revived
weapons inspections in Iraq] was working.

Recently, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that
no one a year ago--including himself--predicted that
the situation in Iraq would be so difficult today.
Before the war, weren't you, among others, warning
that instability and U.S. casualties could continue
for a long time after the invasion?

I think if you go back and you look at the interview
that I did with Bill Moyers in February of last year,
you will see that I suggested that this was a possible
outcome. That interview stands the test of time.

You are now an adviser to John Kerry's presidential
campaign. He has called for a more multilateral
approach to Iraq. But does he really have much of an
alternative plan for U.S. military action in Iraq? How
would he be handling the insurgency and instability
differently than Bush?

I don't speak on behalf of John Kerry. I sit on its
foreign policy advisory group, and I have the title of
senior foreign policy adviser. But the reason I don't
speak on behalf of the Kerry campaign is that I would
have to speak on their talking points and that is way
too constraining for me. So I support him, I speak in
support of him, and I offer the campaign my advice
privately. My own sense of where we are now is that
the speech that Kerry gave in September [urging a more
multilateral approach] is clearly where the
administration is beginning to move toward. That's a
good thing. Unfortunately, the situation is
deteriorating so fast that--and this is not Kerry's
position but my own--we need to take some steps rather
quickly. The first thing we need to do is stabilize
the situation. We need to realize that we are fighting
a multi-front war, one front against one or two
insurgencies, and a third to ensure public safety and
the provision of basic services.

If you contrast the way they did this war with the way
they did Bosnia--when I was political adviser to the
commander in chief of US forces in Europe--the
differences are absolutely striking. In Bosnia, we
went in heavy and in such an intimidating fashion that
nobody dared take a shot at us, and if they did it was
just going to bounce off the Bradley fighting
vehicles. We put 30,000 people--20,000 American--into
a tiny piece of real estate. In Iraq, we put in
130,000 into a vast piece of territory, and they're
all lightly armored because the Rumsfeld doctrine is
to move faster, further and more lethally. He didn't
factor in what it would take to occupy the territory.
Also, when you go in and you do an operation, you have
to separate the belligerents, and the first thing you
have to do is be responsible for the provision of all
the basic services, even if they are not core military
tasks. It's only when the situation becomes somewhat
stable and when people understand you mean business
that you can begin to transfer some of these non-core
activities to the NGO community, which is better
suited to do it but less able to provide logistical
support and security in an unstable situation. In
Iraq, we ended up using not the military but
contractors, and contractors were responsible for
their own security and their own logistical support.
This made it problematic because no American business
is better able to contend with a high-risk security
situation than the U.S. military.

But what should be done in the coming weeks and

Given the way the situation is deteriorating, if we
don't get our arms around it pretty quickly, the
debate is going to turn serious over the question of
abandoning the whole project. For example, retired
general William Odom, the former chief of the National
Security Agency, is now advocating getting out of Iraq
and leaving it to the Europeans to get more involved.
In a way, I like that as a negotiating position. You
say this so the Europeans come to realize that their
interests are at stake. We need to have a new sense
that collective, international interests are at stake
in Iraq. I've always thought the Europeans would
eventually recognize that their interests are in play
in Iraq. Still, they need to be encouraged to
participate fully in the reconstruction. We have not
done that. And there are a number of things that need
to be done. We need to offer them a significant place
at the table. Senator Joe Biden has talked about a
multilateral board of directors for Iraq under a
general U.N. rubric, bringing together countries that
are prepared to put their military and economic assets
into play.

My own sense is that the first countries we should go
to are countries capable of projecting military force
such as--and I hate to say it--France. France can
project military force, and it has the political will
and can take casualties. It is a little stretched now
because it is doing two operations in Africa. But what
we do is go to France and other countries and
demonstrate to them that the leadership model has
changed and that they need to be part of the solution.
And we should make the points to them that the failure
of the United States in Iraq will mean that the U.S.
leadership is taken off the table the next time there
is a problem that involves their region and that
instability in the Middle East doesn't play very well
for restive populations at home. We should get rid of
this idea that the reconstruction contracts are
primarily for the United States, and see what these
other nations can bring to the table.

Do you have any aspirations to serve in the U.S.
government again?

It is not an ambition of mine. Now, if there was a
request, and it seemed to match my skill set and my

Could you be confirmed by a Republican-controlled

I have done nothing to impugn my country, to denigrate
my country. I have insisted only, throughout the
run-up to the war, that we have a debate based on a
set of commonly accepted facts, on which we could base
a decision to send 130,000 of our sons and daughters
to kill and die for our country. I have also insisted,
as is the right of any citizen, that the U.S.
government be held accountable for what it has said to
the American people and to the Congress of the United
States. Neither of those are disqualifying positions.


George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception
(Crown Publishers). A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! The
Washington Post says, "This is a fierce polemic, but
it is based on an immense amount of research....[I]t
does present a serious case for the president's
partisans to answer....Readers can hardly avoid
drawing...troubling conclusions from Corn's
painstaking indictment." The Los Angeles Times says,
"David Corn's The Lies of George W. Bush is as
hard-hitting an attack as has been leveled against the
current president. He compares what Bush said with the
known facts of a given situation and ends up making a
persuasive case." The Library Journal says, "Corn
chronicles to devastating effect the lies, falsehoods,
and misrepresentations....Corn has painstakingly
unearthed a bill of particulars against the president
that is as damaging as it is thorough." For more
information and a sample, check out the official

Posted by richard at May 4, 2004 09:16 AM