News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinecabal-elitew-administrationcia-identity-leak — Viewing Item

Administration blows cover of whistleblower { August 8 2003 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

August 8, 2003
Iraq Arms Critic Reacts to Report on Wife

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 — Joseph C. Wilson IV, a retired ambassador who was a secret envoy of the Bush administration to Africa and who publicly voiced doubts about a reported Iraqi weapons program, says he has become a target of a campaign to discourage others like him from going public.

In the prewar effort to uncover information about weapons in Iraq, Mr. Wilson made a fact-finding trip to Niger in February 2002 at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency. His findings challenged contentions in an unsubstantiated document that Iraq was trying to obtain nuclear-weapons material from the West African country.

But it was not until after Mr. Wilson made his account public last month in an op-ed article in The New York Times, to the intense discomfort of President Bush's aides, that the White House acknowledged that it had erred in including the disputed accusations in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address in January.

Days after the column, another chapter opened. Mr. Wilson's wife was identified by name as a covert C.I.A. operative in a column by the conservative columnist Robert Novak, a disclosure that Mr. Novak has attributed to senior administration officials.

Officials are barred by law from disclosing the identities of Americans who work undercover for the C.I.A. That provision is intended to protect the security of operatives whose lives might be jeopardized if their identities are known.

Among those who have cried foul are several Democratic senators, including Charles E. Schumer of New York, who have said that if the accusation is true and if senior administration officials were its source, law enforcement authorities should seek to identify the officials who appeared to have violated the law. Mr. Schumer has asked Robert S. Mueller III, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to look into the case.

Mr. Wilson, who as chargé d'affaires in Baghdad in 1990 was the last American diplomat to meet President Saddam Hussein, said the events were evidence of distressing American heavy-handedness.

"The issue was never about her," Mr. Wilson said of his wife in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "The issue was about who so badly staffed the president of the United States that they would put into a State of the Union address something that was so transparently unsubstantiable, and this from an administration that came to office saying it wanted to restore dignity and honor to the White House. It wasn't to intimidate me, because I'd already said my piece. Clearly, this was to keep others from stepping forward."

White House officials have said they would not condone disclosing any undercover C.I.A. operative.

In the run-up to the war, Mr. Wilson appeared frequently on television as an expert on Iraq. He freely offered his opinion that the best American policy would be to postpone any war and focus on intense international inspections to find weapons of mass destruction.

That opinion certainly won him no friends in the administration, which was arguing that the moment for inspections had passed.

The fact that a retired American envoy had traveled to Niger to look into an Iraqi connection was acknowledged by the administration this year. But Mr. Wilson said he had decided to discuss his role publicly early last month after concluding that efforts by senior administration officials, including Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, to pass off his findings as having been shared just with low-ranking intelligence officials were "simply inconsistent" with the facts that he knew.

"It was pretty clear that it had gotten to the right people," Mr. Wilson said in the interview.

The deputy national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, has publicly taken responsibility for the inclusion in the State of the Union speech of 16 words that repeated the disputed reports about Iraq's efforts to obtain nuclear material from Niger.

Mr. Wilson, who had told the C.I.A. and the State Department after his visit that there was no basis for that report, said in the interview that he had "tried to avoid taking a victory lap" after his comments prompted the White House acknowledgments. But he had begun to speak out again, in television interviews including one on "Today" on NBC, "until such time as you got those lowlifes over there deciding they would take some whacks at my wife."

Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is known to friends as an energy industry analyst. In the interview, Mr. Wilson said he had no doubt that those who sought to bring his wife into the controversy intended to sound a warning to others who might take on the White House on the charged issue of whether intelligence about Iraq was reshaped or ignored to fit a political agenda.

Mr. Novak cited administration officials as saying Mr. Wilson was chosen for the Niger mission because of Ms. Plame's connection to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Wilson said his qualifications — as an Africa expert, a former ambassador to Gabon and the senior director for African affairs on the staff of the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton — made him more than amply suited for the task.

The broad issue of whether intelligence information about Iraq, its weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism was subjected to undue influence is under investigation by the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence.

Among current intelligence analysts questioned by the committee staffs, just one, Christian P. Westermann of the State Department, has been identified by name as having said Mr. Wilson perceived political pressure in his work on Iraq. Some other former and current intelligence officials who have spoken to reporters have made broadly similar charges.

Mr. Wilson said the Niger trip was prompted by an inquiry from Vice President Dick Cheney to a C.I.A. briefer. The conclusion that there was no basis to the report on nuclear materials was also reached by the United States Embassy in Niamey, the capital, and by an American general who visited there about the same time.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company | Home | Privacy Policy | Search | Corrections | Help | Back to Top

Administration blows cover of whistleblower { August 8 2003 }
Agee calls leak dirty politics
Agee discusses leak of name
Agee sees whitehouse getting blowback
Another time reported testomy may help rove { December 12 2005 }
Appeals court upheld ruling against reporters over leak { February 15 2005 }
Ashcroft recused self from investigation { December 31 2003 }
Buchanan comments on mclaughlin july 15 05 { July 15 2005 }
Bush admits cia leak came from whitehouse { July 12 2007 }
Bush aide testifies leak probe { February 9 2004 }
Bush and lawyer huddle on CIA leak { June 2 2004 }
Bush commuted libby prison sentence { June 2007 }
Bush defends declassification of prewar report
Bush jokes to reporter about cia leak
Bush knew of pending cia leak
Bush toughens support of leak investigation { October 7 2003 }
Cheney advisor resigns after indictment
Cheney aide also linked to cia leak { July 18 2005 }
Cheney aide says bush approved leak { April 6 2006 }
Cheney and rove lose importance in whitehouse
Cheney may use executive privilege { October 29 2005 }
Cheney reportedly interviewed in leak of CIA name { June 5 2004 }
Cheney source of officer name to libby { October 25 2005 }
Cheney staff focus of probe { February 17 2004 }
Cheney to be defense witness in cia leak case
Cia blocks varerie plame book
Cia name leak from whitehouse { September 30 2003 }
Cia probe widens
Colleague says armitage was cia leak source { August 29 2006 }
Did rove blow spooks cover { September 16 2003 }
Doj investigation whitehouse reveal cia agent
Fitzgerald calls new grand jury after woodward testimony { November 19 2005 }
Judith freed to testify about source lewis libby { September 30 2005 }
Judith miller cant remember where name came from { October 16 2005 }
Judith miller retires from the times
Karl rove testifies before federal grand jury on leak
Last day of probe keeping whitehouse jittery
Leaders express outrage for libby commuted sentence { July 3 2007 }
Leaker said wilson wife fair game { September 28 2003 }
Libby charges dont address cia leak
Libby lawyer told miller to clear scooter libby { October 16 2005 }
Libby may have hidden cheney role { November 13 2005 }
Libby perjury worse than lewinsky perjury
Libby retains 5th amendment by avoiding pardon { July 3 2007 }
Libby says white house superiors approved leak { February 9 2006 }
Libby scapegoated to protect karl rove { January 24 2007 }
Libby trial delayed right after 2006 elections { February 4 2006 }
Matthew cooper testify after rove lawyers maneuvering { July 7 2005 }
Mcclellan cant clear cheney in cia leak case { June 20 2008 }
Memo central to leak delivered to powell { July 21 2005 }
Nbc russert rebuts libby testimony { February 7 2007 }
New tork times reporter jailed for concealing leak { July 7 2005 }
New york times reporter given top security clearance { October 16 2005 }
Novak claims book was source of leak { August 2 2005 }
Novak points to cia { October 1 2003 }
Novak pokes fun at cia leak
Novak wont give up source { October 1 2003 }
Pat buchanan says neocons behind whole thing { July 15 2005 }
Powell gives testimony to grand jury
Press secretary says bush behind leak { October 2007 }
Prison fines await those leak cia identities
Probe exposing cia identity { September 29 2003 }
Prosecutor investigating coverup of leak { July 27 2005 }
Prosecutors question Bush on CIA name leak { June 25 2004 }
Reporter held in contempt
Rove and libby worked damage control { July 22 2005 }
Rove blamed libby to jury { October 20 2005 }
Rove called to testify 5th time { April 27 2006 }
Rove confirmed plame indirectly lawyer says { July 15 2005 }
Rove emailed security official about matthew cooper { July 11 2003 }
Rove fight escalates { July 15 2005 }
Rove legal team furious efforts to convince prosecutor { October 27 2005 }
Rove mclellan interviewed cia probe { October 23 2003 }
Rove told cooper wilsons wife works for agency { July 11 2005 }
Rove wont face indictment in cia leak case { June 13 2006 }
Story from two senior whitehouse employees
Time magazine talked to rove for plane story
Time reporters in contempt of court for cia leak
Time reporters says he first learned of plame from rove { July 18 2005 }
Valerie plame does vanity fair spread { December 3 2003 }
Whitehouse press secretary contradicts libby { December 2007 }
Wilson suggested rove leaked { September 30 2003 }
Woodward attacked by liberals { November 18 2005 }
Woodward eyed after calling fitzgerald overzealous { November 17 2005 }
Woodward was told of plame before leak { November 16 2005 }

Files Listed: 85


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple