The first to challenge the Bush administration on its use of purported intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq, Ambassador Joseph Wilson revealed in a July 2003 New York Times article that he had been asked by the CIA to look into allegations that the Iraqis had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium yellowcake from the West African country of Niger.
Wilson, who had been in charge of the American Embassy in Baghdad during the first Gulf War and later served as an ambassador in the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, concluded there was no substance to the allegations — a conviction supported by others, including the American Ambassador to Niger and a four-star Marine Corps general.
Within a week of his accusation that the White House “twisted” its intelligence to justify the Iraq invasion, his wife’s secret status as a CIA agent was revealed by senior White House and State Department officials to several national journalists — including a syndicated conservative newspaper columnist who published her name. Valerie Plame Wilson, a longtime CIA covert operations officer involved in issues of counter-proliferation, then found herself at the heart of a political firestorm and of a Justice Department investigation that exposed what some dub an act of treason. The betrayal implicated senior administration officials, including President Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and the Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage. For his role in the leak case, Libby was convicted on four counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to federal investigators in March 2007.
Together the husband and wife team, whose story was made into a major motion picture in 2010 starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, lay out the CIA leak controversy in an incisive and enlightening presentation. Drawing from Wilson’s memoir, The Politics of Truth, they take audiences inside two decades of world politics — from facing down Saddam Hussein to White House leaks. They share their views on the incredible events that led to Valerie Wilson’s exposure, the unprecedented abuse of public trust by the Bush administration, and its efforts to silence a critic and subvert the right of citizens to exercise free speech.