In 2002 the CIA sent Joseph Wilson, longtime diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, to the west African nation of Niger to investigate suspicions that Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain uranium mined there for use in nuclear weapons. He returned to report that the claims were groundless, only to hear George Bush tell the world in his State of the Union address that Saddam had indeed tried to make such a purchase. Soon after Wilson disputed Bush’s claim in a New York Times op-ed piece, “two senior administration officials” informed Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative. When Novak included the leaked information in his column, it both ended Plame’s 20-year CIA career and deprived the U.S. of a much-needed source of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. In his new book, The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity (Carroll & Graf), Wilson chronicles his work in Iraq and Africa, explains how he first determined that the Niger story was false, and describes the many ways in which the White House leak has damaged his wife’s life and his own, not to mention U.S. national security. Since the book came out last month Wilson has appeared on just about any broadcast forum that would have him, from Fox News to Democracy Now!, calmly and eloquently advancing his argument that the occupation of Iraq is “a disastrous charade” and that the Bush administration has “systematically deceived the American people, Congress, and the world.” He’ll speak Thursday, June 3, at 12:30 PM at Borders Books & Music, 150 N. State, 312-606-0750. At 6 that evening he’ll appear at a Chicago Council on Foreign Relations program ($30, registration requested) at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, 163 E. Walton, 312-726-3860.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Carroll & Graf Publishers.