Ambassador Joe Wilson

Joseph Wilson has had a historic career in international relations spans more than three decades, with service under five U.S. presidents — Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton. Widely recognized for his diplomatic leadership , Wilson was hailed “a true American hero” by President George H.W. Bush for his efforts to free more than 100 American hostages in Iraq.

The last American official to confront Saddam Hussein before the start of the Gulf War, Wilson served as the acting U.S. Ambassador in Iraq throughout Operation Desert Shield. He has held numerous senior government positions, including Ambassador to Gabon and to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe. As Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, Wilson was responsible for the coordination of U.S. policy to the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. He was also a principal architect of President Clinton’s historic trip to Africa in March 1998 and a leading proponent of the Africa Trade Bill.

Under direction from the Bush Administration, in 2002 Wilson was sent to investigate reports that Saddam was seeking uranium yellowcake from Niger for Iraq’s nuclear program. After his visit, Wilson reported back to Washington that there was no truth to the claims. 18 months later, when it became clear the administration had misled the American people about the yellowcake claim, Wilson became the first to openly challenge the administration on its justification for war. Eight days after Wilson stated his conclusions in a New York Times article titled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” his wife’s identity as a covert CIA officer was revealed by senior White House and State Department officials as retaliation. The betrayal of Valerie Plame’s identity resulted in the conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff on four counts of perjury, lying to federal investigators, and obstruction of justice.

In 2004, Wilson chronicled his diplomatic career and battle with the Bush administration in his national bestselling book The Politics of Truth. In 2010, the Wilsons’ story was made into a major motion picture starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, entitled Fair Game, after Valerie Plame’s memoir.