Obituary Note: Joseph Wilson

Joseph Wilson, the former ambassador who challenged the Bush administration's claims that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons and wrote the memoir The Politics of Truth, died last week at his home in Santa Fe, N.Mex., the New York Times reported. He was 69.

In July of 2003, Wilson wrote an op-ed in the Times challenging George W. Bush's assertion that the British government had evidence of Iraq seeking uranium from Africa, which was made in his State of the Union address earlier that year and used as justification for the invasion. Drawing from a 2002 trip to Niger to help the CIA verify whether the country had sold uranium to Iraq, Wilson argued that the facts were being ignored or twisted to create a cause for war.

A week after Wilson's op-ed was published, conservative columnist Robert Novak wrote a column outing Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent. Subsequent investigations led to a long trial and conviction for Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

In 2004 Wilson published The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Put the White House on Trial and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity (Carroll & Graf), in which he wrote: "The path to writing the op-ed piece had been straightforward in my own mind. My government had refused to address the fundamental question of how the lie regarding Saddam's supposed attempt to purchase African uranium had found its way into the State of the Union address."

Plame, whose marriage to Wilson ended earlier this year in divorce, told the Times: "He did it because he felt it was his responsibility as a citizen. It was not done out of partisan motivation, despite how it was spun."

In a tribute to Wilson, editor and agent Philip Turner, who worked with Wilson on The Politics of Truth, wrote that the former ambassador "really enjoyed giving public talks, especially to students and faculty on college campuses.... Notwithstanding the war we were entangled in, he espoused an uplifting message, a proud progressive patriotism that was a counterweight to the jingoism of his critics. Audiences found his talks very inspiring."

Turner added: "It is especially poignant that Joe died today, when the emergence of another whistleblower is having a seismic impact in the politics of the day."

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