CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — A husband-and-wife team once targeted by members of the George W. Bush administration for their role in exposing questionable intelligence used to justify America’s invasion of Iraq spoke this morning at Widener University.
Joe Wilson was once an American diplomat in Iraq. His wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative.
Months after the September 11th terrorist attacks, the CIA asked Wilson to investigate allegations that the Iraqis were attempting to purchase large amounts of uranium “yellowcake” in West Africa. Wilson told the feds the claims were bogus.
But that’s not what the Bush administration told the American people. So, Wilson says, he decided to expose the lie in a July 2003 op-ed piece in the New York Times.
“I made the decision when Dr. (Condoleezza) Rice made it very clear the the US government was simply not going to fess up and acknowledge that they knew this information to be bogus before the president uttered those sixteen words,” Wilson said today.
Plame’s secret status as a CIA agent was later leaked — and her cover blown as part of an apparent plan to end her career — by Scooter Libby, an adviser to Dick Cheney.
Today, the couple told Widener students to always question the government and speak out against wrongdoing so that similar reprisals will never happen again.
“Democracy is not a spectator sport — you’ve got to get in there,” said Wilson.
Wilson and Plame will also appear tonight at the Kimmel Center as a part of the “Philadelphia Speakers” series.
Reported by Cherri Gregg, KYW Newsradio 1060