former American diplomat who exposed false
claims that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium
from Niger has accused members of the Bush
administration of a dirty tricks campaign
revelation of Joseph Wilson's investigation
in the African state forced President George
Bush to retract claims about Iraq's attempts
to buy uranium made in his State of the Union
speech two months before the war began.
The Administration is alleged to have leaked
the name of Mr. Wilson's wife, an undercover
CIA operative in the field of weapons of mass
destruction, with the aim of discrediting
is said that Mr. Wilson was selected to go
on the trip to Niger last year only after
his wife, Valerie Plame, suggested him. US
intelligence officials and the Democrats are
furious about the move, arguing that it jeopardises
Ms. Plame's work and undermines her husband.
They have called for an inquiry.
identity was revealed by Bob Novak, a syndicated
columnist, who said that he was given the
information by "two senior administration
officials". They told him that Ms. Plame had
suggested to her CIA colleagues that her husband
should be sent on the mission.
report was followed by allegations on neo-conservative
websites that Mr. Wilson was an opponent of
the Iraq war, and had an interest in refuting
the threat from Saddam Hussein's WMD.
Wilson said yesterday that the naming of his
wife had parallels with the disclosure of
the identity of the British scientist David
Kelly, the source of BBC allegations that
the British government "sexed up" an dossier
on Iraqi weapons.
Administration in Washington came in saying
they were going to restore honour and dignity
to the presidency," Mr. Wilson said. "They
have shown no sign of it so far.
is highly damaging to my wife's career, and
could be seen as a smear against me."
it was also about discouraging "others who
may have information embarrassing to the administration
from coming forward," he said.
is absolutely untrue that my wife was responsible
for my trip to Niger. I met a number of senior
members of staff to discuss the visit."
Democrats have criticised the White House
over disclosing Ms. Plame's identity, and
Senator Charles Schumer of New York has urged
the FBI to investigate.
US intelligence officials have also attacked
the Administration for the leak, saying it
put Ms. Plame at risk.
Anderson, the former CIA station chief for
the Near East Division, said: "When it gets
to the point of an administration official
acting to do career damage, and possibly endanger
someone's life, that's mean, that's petty,
it's irresponsible, and it ought not to be
Wilson, a former US ambassador to Gabon, revealed
his Niger mission, undertaken last year, in
a recent article in The New York Times. He
reported to the State Department and the CIA
that tales of Iraqi purchases of Niger uranium
were without credence but it was still used
by Mr. Bush in his speech, though attributed
Bush said: "The British government has learned
that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant
quantities of uranium from Africa."
Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has acknowledged
that the CIA told Britain that there was no
evidence of Iraq attempting to acquire uranium
from Niger. The Government insists, however,
that it has "separate intelligence" about
Iraq's attempts to acquire African uranium.
Ministers have refused to state what that
August 2003 10:23
2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
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