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Retired U.S. Diplomat Joseph Wilson gave a pointed speech critiquing the Bush administration’s Iraq policy this morning in Macky Auditorium for the Conference on World Affairs.
Macky Auditorium was filled with an elderly crowd eager to hear Wilson speak about his experiences as a diplomat and concerned citizen.
On July 6, 2003, Wilson wrote an editorial piece for the New York Times based on his experiences in Iraq during the Gulf War and in Niger. He wrote that someone in the Bush administration had twisted the facts and fed the president a lie. The lie made it seem Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was used as a premise to invade Iraq.
Although Iraq may have had biological weapons and chemical weapons, they did not have society-altering nuclear weapons, Wilson said. Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate a claim that Iraq purchased yellowcake uranium from Niger. Wilson found no such evidence. The U.S. still declared war on Iraq.
“Somebody had put a lie in the President’s mouth,” Wilson said. As to who had put the lie there, Wilson speculated it was Alan Foley and Bob Joseph.
Wilson decided to write the editorial piece to correct the record.
“I petitioned my government for the redress of a grievance,” Wilson said. “It was an act of good citizenship.”
The Bush Administration didn’t appreciate the article Wilson wrote.
“The administration made it clear that if you write articles against the administration, they will rock the boat,” Wilson said.
The administration began to attack him under a character assassination campaign, Wilson said. They called him a womanizer because he has been married more than once. They also attacked him because he had dabbled in drugs while in college. Then they went after his wife.
His wife, Valerie Plame, was a former CIA covert operative. Her identity was leaked. Wilson said betraying the identity of his wife was an act of treason.
Wilson does not believe we went to war to defend our national security. The war was to “validate an academic theory written by people who had no experience on the ground,” Wilson said.
The mantra at the time the war broke out was “we can not afford to wait for the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud,” Wilson said.
Bush even had his own version, according to Wilson. Wilson said Bush’s version was “we can not afford to wait for the smoking gun to come in the form of a smoking gun.”
The Iraq war has led to approximately 3,300 U.S. casualties.
“American kids are involved in somebody else’s civil war,” Wilson said.
Wilson maintained this is the first time the U.S. government has turned back the clock on the rights of its citizens.
Although mainstream media is as much about ratings as it is about news, the blogosphere has much to offer, Wilson said
Wilson also urged more citizen participation in our democracy.
“If you don’t participate in this great democracy of ours, someone else will and you may not like the outcome,” Wilson said.
The crowd cheered and gave two standing ovations to Wilson. They even stayed 15 minutes after the lecture to hear the question and answer session.
“He’s a regular guy,” said Amy Meier, a Boulder County activist. “If he did swear an oath to the constitution, it was the only moral thing he could’ve done.”
Contact Campus Press staff writer Gary Black at firstname.lastname@example.org