Joseph Wilson

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Person.png Joseph Wilson   Sourcewatch WikiquoteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Joseph Valerie.jpg
Joseph Wilson and wife Valerie
BornJoseph Charles Wilson IV
6 November 1949
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
Died27 September 2019 (Age 69)
Alma materUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
SpouseValerie Plame Wilson
Member ofTransatlantic Policy Network
US diplomat husband of Valerie Plame

Joseph C. Wilson was a United States diplomat best known for his 2002 trip to Niger to investigate allegations that Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase yellowcake uranium; his New York Times op-ed piece, "What I Didn't Find in Africa"; and the subsequent leaking by Lewis Libby of information pertaining to his wife Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent.[1]

Diplomatic career

Joe Wilson had been 23 years (1975 to 1998) as a career foreign service officer and US ambassador. In 1990, he was chargé d'affaires in Baghdad, and the last American diplomat to meet Saddam Hussein (also a forceful advocate for his removal from Kuwait).[2] He became President George H. W. Bush's ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe (1992 to 1995) and helped direct Africa policy for the National Security Council under his successor, Bill Clinton.[3]

Niger visit

In late February 2002, Wilson travelled to Niger at the CIA's request to investigate allegations that Saddam Hussein had purchased enriched yellowcake uranium. Wilson met with the current US Ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick (1999– ) at the embassy and then interviewed dozens of officials who had been in the Niger government at the time of the supposed deal. He ultimately concluded: "it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place."

Wilson learned that the Iraqis had in fact requested a meeting to discuss "expanding commercial relations" but that Niger's Prime Minister Mayaki had declined, due to concern about United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

British intelligence

President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech included these 16 words:

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."[4][5]

Twisted to exaggerate

On 6th July 2003 Wilson wrote an "op-ed" in the New York Times entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa" in response to claims made by the administration of President Bush. He stated that, on the basis of his "experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war" he has "little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."[6]


He died on 27 September 2019.[7]


Event Participated in

Munich Security Conference/201915 February 201917 February 2019Munich
The 55th Munich Security Conference, which included "A Spreading Plague" aimed at "identifying gaps and making recommendations to improve the global system for responding to deliberate, high consequence biological events."
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  2. "'He Has Subverted the Rule of Law and the System of Justice' – Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson Reacts to Bush's Commutation of Lewis 'Scooter' Libby Jail Sentence in Outing of Valerie Plame", "Rush Transcript" of interview with Joseph C. Wilson, IV, on "Democracy Now!" July 5, 2005.
  3. Chaps. 8–10 on 182–210 of Wilson, The Politics of Truth; 261–74.
  4. "President Delivers "State of the Union: The U.S. Capitol", press release, The White House, January 28, 2003, accessed July 23, 2007. (Full transcript of the speech.)
  5. See, e.g, "16 Words" and "previous" link as provided by, March 7, 2003, accessed July 23, 2007.
  6. Joseph C. Wilson, IV, "What I Didn't Find in Africa", The New York Times, July 6, 2003, Op-Ed, accessed September 17, 2006.