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Former Diplomat Joseph Wilson, who disputed justification for Iraq war, dies at 69

2019-09-28

Joseph Wilson, a former diplomat whose then-wife was exposed as a CIA operative just days after he rejected the Bush Administration’s justification for the Iraq war, died in his home Friday. He was 69.

Wilson’s interactions with the White House kicked off in 2002, when the CIA requested he fly to Niger and confirm the nation sold uranium used to develop nuclear weapons to Saddam Hussein. While he previously served as senior U.S. Diplomat in Baghdad during the first Gulf War as well as an ambassador to Gabon, Wilson had been a private citizen at the time.

His investigation uncovered no evidence to support Niger made any such sale to Iraq and he reported to his findings to the CIA. But in January 2003, President George W. Bush announced during his State of the Union address that the British Government learned Hussein purchased Uranium from Africa and declared war on Iraq just seven months later.

Wilson fired back at the White House in July 2003 with a column in the New York Times titled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”

“If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why,)” he wrote.

“If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses.”

Just days later, a piece by columnist Robert Novack outed Wilson’s former wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative in a bid to discredit Wilson. It touched off a scandal for the Bush administration, which culminated in the conviction of vice presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby for lying to investigators and obstruction of justice.

President Trump pardoned Libby in 2018.

Plame, who is running as a Democrat for congress in New Mexico, remembered Wilson as a “true American Hero, a patriot,” who “had the heart of a lion.” The pair moved to Santa Fe in 2007, where they raised their twins and later divorced in 2017.

With News Wire Services