Joseph C. Wilson IV, the man accusing the White House of a vendetta against him and his wife, is an ex-diplomat turned Democratic partisan.
President Bush, he wrote in an article in the far-left Nation magazine that was published before the Iraq war began, is not interested in democracy in the Middle East but “this new American imperialism.”
“The new imperialists will not rest until governments that ape our world view are implanted throughout the region, a breathtakingly ambitious undertaking, smacking of hubris in the extreme.”
Like Mr. Bush, he said Saddam Hussein’s forces possessed weapons of mass destruction.
“They would use a biological weapon in a battle that we might have,” he told ABC in November about Saddam’s counterattack. He now criticizes Mr. Bush for relying on the same intelligence. No such weapons have been found, but the search goes on.
His wife is Valerie Plame Wilson, who works for the CIA’s directorate of operations, a clandestine service. Her name and spy job, revealed in syndicated columnist Robert Novak’s column in July, has become a Democratic campaign issue and triggered a Justice Department investigation of who at the White House leaked that fact, if anyone at the White House did. Federal law prohibits government officials from identifying clandestine CIA employees publicly; it does not prohibit journalists from publishing such information.
Mr. Novak yesterday detailed in his syndicated column the history of how the story came about. “I did not receive a planned leak,” he wrote. “Second, the CIA never warned me that the disclosure of Wilson’s wife working at the agency would endanger her or anybody else. Third, it was not much of a secret.”
The White House yesterday continued to deny its people were responsible for the leak and said it is cooperating fully with the Justice Department.
“There has been no specific information that has come to our attention to suggest — beyond media reports — to suggest that someone in the White House was involved in leaking classified information,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
Mr. Wilson told The Washington Post he and his wife are already discussing who will play them in a movie.
He contributed to Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and is aiding Democratic candidates. Yesterday, Mr. Wilson, a lover of the limelight, was to brief the House Democratic Caucus. But Democrats called off the session for fear they would make the investigation a partisan affair, which Republicans say it already is.
“My political leanings are left of center,” Mr. Wilson said on C-SPAN this week.
A person in Mr. Wilson’s office yesterday told a reporter that he was in the midst of a press interview, that his voice mail was full, so “call back later.”
Mr. Wilson now works at the Middle East Institute as a scholar and frequent Bush critic. He also runs JC Wilson International Ventures. A Senate Republican staffer jokes that he is already on the short list for secretary of state, no matter who the Democratic nominee is.