Joseph Wilson

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Discredited Ex-Diplomat Joseph Wilson

Joseph Charles Wilson IV (born November 6, 1949) is a retired diplomat of the United States Foreign Service, who was posted to African nations and Iraq during the George H. W. Bush administration. During the George W. Bush administration, after his retirement from foreign service, Wilson became known to the general public as a result of his controversial op-ed published in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, four months after the invasion of Iraq began in March 2003. In the op-ed, entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," Wilson alleges his February 2002 trip investigating whether Iraq purchased or attempted to purchase yellowcake from Niger in the late 1990s and accuses the George W. Bush administration of "exaggerating the Iraqi threat" in order to justify war."[1]

Despite being discredited in the eyes of some, Wilson has since become a speaker and activist on behalf of Democratic causes on the "cocktail party" circuit, including campaigning and working for Senator John Kerry in the 2004 election, and other leftist organizations.

Biographical Information

Wilson was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1949 to Joseph Charles Wilson III and Phyllis (Finnell) Wilson. On his father's side, the Wilson's uncle is Pete Wilson, former United States Senator and Governor of California. He is married to his third wife, the former Valerie Elise Plame, and their two children, twins Trevor Rolph and Samantha Finnell Diana, born in 2000.[2]

The Vietnam protests of the 1960s, when Wilson was a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, galvanized him along with much of that generation and "pitted parents against kids in [his] family just as it did in many households around the country."

For a year midway in his career as a diplomat (1985–1986), Wilson served as a Congressional Fellow in the offices of Senator Al Gore and Representative Tom Foley; his working for Democrats was simply a matter of "happenstance." Although Wilson claimed to have been a Republican who crossed to the Democrats because of the Plame Affair, in fact Wilson was a longtime Democrat.[3] That experience helped him to achieve his position as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, over a decade later (1997–98), during which he arranged the first trip of President Clinton to Africa. That was the final position that he held upon retiring from government service, in 1998. It was as a "private citizen" with extensive knowledge and experience of Africa, and specifically of Niger, that he was tapped to travel there again on behalf of the CIA in February 2002; he returned in March 2002. Also as a "private citizen," in 2000, Wilson had contributed $2,000 to Vice President Gore's presidential campaign and $1,000 to George W. Bush's presidential campaign, but he voted for Gore and Lieberman in the general election. In 2003 Wilson began to support and formally endorsed John Kerry for president, donating $2,000 to Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004, and served as an adviser to and speech writer for the campaign in 2003 and 2004.[4] He has made contributions to the campaigns of Democratic candidates, such as Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Congressman Charles B. Rangel of New York, and to Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California.[5]

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Wilson supported activist groups like Win Without War, a coalition of far left-wing groups united in opposition to the Iraq War. On July 16, 2007, the Drudge Report reported that Wilson supports Hillary Clinton for President of the United States in the 2008 election.

Diplomatic career

Wilson served in the U.S. Foreign Service from January 1976 through 1998, with postings in five different African nations between 1976 and 1988.

From 1988 to 1991, he was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. In the wake of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, he became the last American diplomat to meet with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, telling him in very clear terms to "get out of Kuwait." Wilson next served for three years as U.S. ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe, and subsequently helped direct Africa policy for the United States National Security Council during the administration of President Bill Clinton.

Diplomatic postings:

  • 1976–1978: General Services Officer, Niamey, Niger
  • 1978–1979: Administrative Office, Lomé, Togo
  • 1979–1981: Administrative Officer, United States Department of State, Washington, D.C.
  • 1981–1982: Administrative Officer, Pretoria, South Africa
  • 1982–1985: Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), Bujumbura, Burundi
  • 1985–1986: Congressional Fellow, offices of Senator Al Gore and Representative Tom Foley
  • 1986–1988: DCM, Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
  • 1988–1991: DCM, Baghdad, Iraq
  • 1992–1995: Ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe
  • 1995–1997: Political Adviser to Commander in Chief U.S. Armed Forces, Europe EUCOM, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 1997–1998: Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council (USA)|National Security Council, Washington, D.C.


  1. Joseph C. Wilson IV, "What I Didn't Find in Africa," The New York Times, July 6, 2003.
  2. Vicky Ward, "Double Exposure", Vanity Fair, January 2004.
  3. Vicky Ward, "Double Exposure", Vanity Fair, January 2004.
  4. "Spouse of Outed CIA Officer Signs On with Kerry," The Washington Times, February 14, 2004, abstract (original article unavailable) at
  5. Joseph C. Wilson search at