Valerie and Joseph Wilson held a press conference this morning to announce the civil suit against Cheney, Rove and Libby.
Valerie: I am proud to have served my country by working at the Central Intelligence Agency. I and my former CIA colleagues trusted our government to protect us as we did our jobs. That a few reckless individuals within the current administration betrayed that trust has been a grave disappointment to every patriotic American. Joe and I have filed this action with heavy hearts but with a renewed sense of purpose. I would much rather be continuing my career as a public servant than be a plaintiff in a lawsuit, but I feel strongly and justice demands that those who acted so harmfully against our national security must answer for their shameful conduct in a court of law.
Joe Wilson. I proudly served my country as a Foreign Service officer for twenty-three years. I was deeply honored to be appointed Ambassador to two African countries by President George Herbert Walker Bush, for whom I also served as acting ambassador to Iraq during the first Gulf War. In that capacity, I was the last American diplomat to confront Saddam Hussein before the launching of Desert Storm. In the Clinton Administration I was Senior Director of African Affairs at the National Security Council.
After my retirement from the Foreign Service in 1998, I undertook two discreet missions at the request of my government to the Republic of Niger to look into uranium related matters. In each case, I reported back my conclusions faithfully and truthfully.
One mission was to look into assertions that Iraq had purchased or was in the process of purchasing uranium yellowcake from Niger. I found no evidence that there was any truth to the allegation. The US Ambassador to Niger, and a four star Marine Corps general also looked into the allegation and came to the same conclusion that the claim was bogus.
Weeks before President Bush uttered his now infamous sixteen words in the 2003 State of the Union address, the National Intelligence officer, representing the intelligence community as a whole reported to the administration that the allegation was “baseless” and should not be used. Regrettably, that counsel was not heeded.
In the months that followed I privately urged the administration correct the public record on the falsehood in the State of the Union. When the administration refused to do so, I exercised my civic duty to hold my government to account for what it had said and done in the name of the American people. I wrote an article in the New York Times entitled “What I didn’t find in Africa.” The day following the appearance of the article the administration spokesman finally admitted that the sixteen words “did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union”. Subsequently, the Director of Central Intelligence confirmed that the statement should never have been made. Within weeks, the Deputy National Security Adviser offered his resignation, acknowledging that he had been told on several occasions that the intelligence community did not want the President to be a “witness of fact” about an unsubstantiated allegation.
Even as the administration was belatedly coming clean, some officials and their allies launched what the special prosecutor has called a concerted effort to use classified information to quote discredit, punish, or seek revenge unquote against my wife, Valerie, and myself. This attack was based on lies and disinformation, and included the compromise of Valerie’s identity as a classified officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. These officials’ abuse of power for personal revenge broke faith with their obligations as public servants to uphold and defend the constitution.
But this remains a nation of laws. No administration official however powerful is above the law and I have confidence in the American system of justice. This suit is about the pursuit of justice.
To assist us in defraying the costs of this suit the Joseph and Valerie Wilson Support Trust has been established with a web site at www.wilsonsupport.org. We are under no illusions about how tough this fight will be but we believe the time has come to hold those who use their official positions to exact personal revenge responsible for their actions.