- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson IV, who says his wife’s status as a CIA employee was leaked by the administration, yesterday said he will use his “15 minutes of notoriety” to campaign against President Bush.

Mr. Wilson said he does not consider himself to be “anti-Bush” but said he has serious policy differences with many of his advisers.

“I am an American citizen. I have every right, and so does my wife. We have every right to participate in the political process of this country,” Mr. Wilson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Mr. Wilson said he will work to defeat Mr. Bush. Asked if he considered himself a Democrat, he said, “I certainly do now.”

He laughed when asked if he planned to seek political office. A resident of the District, Mr. Wilson said, “We have no representation.”

Mr. Wilson said he does not believe Mr. Bush condoned the exposure of Valerie Plame Wilson’s CIA job, but he does blame his administration and continued to focus on the White House’s top political strategist, Karl Rove.

Mr. Wilson recently said Mr. Rove should be “frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs” if responsible for the leak.

The former diplomat backed off some yesterday, saying that while Mr. Rove was likely not the source of the leak, he “gave legs” to a newspaper column that revealed his wife’s identity as a CIA operative.

“I do have a number of people, or a person in whom I have a high degree of confidence, who has told me that Karl Rove told him that my wife is ‘fair game,’ and that was one week after the leak,” Mr. Wilson told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

On NBC, Mr. Wilson said about Mr. Rove: “Now, I don’t know if he leaked it. I don’t know if he authorized it. But I have every confidence in the world that he and the communications office of the White House continued to push this story” as a form of intimidation.

Mr. Wilson went to Niger in 2002 to assess reports that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had tried to obtain uranium from the African country. Mr. Wilson was critical of the claim, which Mr. Bush made in the State of the Union address, and published an article in the leftist magazine the Nation accusing the administration of practicing a “new American imperialism.”

Mrs. Wilson works for the CIA’s directorate of operations, a clandestine service. Her name and employer were revealed by syndicated columnist Robert Novak in July. In the column, Mr. Novak asked why the CIA would have sent to Niger someone like Mr. Wilson, with no experience in the field of nonproliferation.

The revelation about Mrs. Wilson has become a Democratic campaign issue and triggered a Justice Department investigation to determine who, if anyone, at the White House leaked that fact. The White House must turn over documents relevant to the probe by tomorrow.

Federal law prohibits government officials from identifying clandestine CIA employees publicly; it does not prohibit journalists from publishing such information.

Appearing on the NBC show, Mr. Novak said the information came in an “offhand manner” from an administration source who was not acting out of vindictiveness and was “not a partisan gunslinger by any means.”

He said the Bush administration was not trying to plant a story about Mr. Wilson.

“I have been a plantee in this town for over 40 years. I know when somebody’s trying to plant a story,” Mr. Novak said.

Mr. Novak said he did not regret publishing her name, only that he used the term “operative” to describe her.

“I use it about hack politicians; I use it about people on the Hill. I don’t know what she did, but the indication given to me by this senior official and another senior official I checked with, was not that she was under deep cover,” Mr. Novak said.

Asked about TV appearances, a movie or book deals, Mr. Wilson said he has “not actively sought appearances on the press” and that the controversy is not about him but about the administration’s claims about Iraq.

Mr. Wilson said he initially declined to move forward on a book deal because “I did not want that to enter into this in any way whatsoever, even if it cost me potential revenues.”

But since “Mr. Novak has gone through my garbage and decided that he would talk about that as well,” Mr. Wilson said he will now go forward with a book.

The White House has accused some Democrats of “political opportunism” in blaming Mr. Bush for the leak and calling for an independent counsel. Administration officials had no comment yesterday.

Appearing on CBS, Mr. Wilson said he is concerned that as a result of the leak, his wife will be targeted by a terrorist organization or hostile intelligence service.

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