October 3, 2005
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, email@example.com
Joseph Wilson, former U.S. diplomat and husband of exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame, will discuss “The Ethics of Washington Politics” at California State University, Bakersfield on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.
in the Doré Theater.
Wilson’s lecture is the first in a series of events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Kegley Institute of Ethics. The lecture, co-sponsored by The Bakersfield Californian and Russo’s Books, is free and the public is invited. Parking is also free for those attending the lecture.
Wilson was called a "true American hero" by former president George H.W.
Bush for his many years of diplomatic service, including his face-to-face confrontations with Saddam Hussein in the days leading up to the first Gulf War. He may well have faded quietly into the sunset had he not written an opinion piece for The New York Times in which he accused President George W. Bush of "exaggerating the Iraqi threat" in order to justify war, specifically with respect to Iraq's alleged attempts to acquire uranium from Niger. Shortly thereafter, columnist Robert Novak noted that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative, a revelation that was potentially a criminal offense.
Wilson charged that Plame's CIA status was deliberately exposed by Bush administration officials, as retaliation for his public charge that U.S.
intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was largely a conspiracy to falsify and fabricate evidence to support the war.
“The story of Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, represents an important case study of the ethics of modern American politics,” said Christopher Meyers, CSUB philosophy professor and director of the institute. “Regardless of your political views, Ambassador Wilson will surely provide key insights into the inner workings of our government. We are delighted to have Ambassador Wilson here at CSUB to begin our series of lectures celebrating 20 years of the Kegley Institute of Ethics.”
Wilson will also sign copies of his book, “The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed my Wife's CIA Identity." In his book, Wilson details more than two decades of foreign service, in addition to giving his personal account of the events leading to his decision to go public with his criticisms of the Bush administration, and what he views as an orchestrated attack by administration officials in retaliation for his coming forward.
The controversy surrounding Wilson began with President Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address, in which the President said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Wilson's editorial, titled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," was published on July 6, 2003. The next day, White House aides said that the State of the Union Address should not have contained the reference. And Secretary of State Colin Powell, then traveling with the president in Africa, gave a news conference addressing the issue.
President Bush appointed Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald to determine whether any federal laws had been violated in the revelation of Plame's identity. Fitzgerald's investigation in turn led to contempt of court charges against Time magazine and New York Times reporters Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller, for their refusal to reveal who told them about Plame's identity. Cooper eventually testified it was White House Political Advisor Karl Rove, while Miller, after 84 days in jail, revealed last week that her source was Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
The bulk of Wilson's op-ed piece dealt with his trip to Niger in 2002, where he had been sent on behalf of the CIA to investigate the possibility that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy enriched uranium yellow cake.
Wilson concluded then that there "was nothing to the story."
Little is known of Plame's professional career. While undercover, she had described herself as an "energy analyst" for the private company "Brewster Jennings & Associates," which the CIA later acknowledged was a front company for certain investigations. One former CIA official, Larry C.
Johnson, identified Plame as a "non-official cover operative." He
explained: "...that meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed.”
In Novak’s column, other than the use of the word "operative," there was nothing in the article to suggest that Plame was engaged in covert activities. Novak later said a CIA source told him unofficially that Plame had been "an analyst, not in covert operations."
For more information on the lecture, please call (661) 665-6303.