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Profile: Joseph C. Wilson


Positions that Joseph C. Wilson has held:

  • US ambassador between 1976 and 1998
  • Ambassador to Gabon and S ̄o Tom← and Pr■ncipe during the administration of President George H. W. Bush
  • Charg← d'affaires in Baghdad
  • Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council




Quote, Early July 2003

   Responding to Condoleezza Rice's assertion that Wilson's report of his 2002 trip to Niger never made its way to high-level officials, Wilson said, “If you are senior enough to ask this question, you are well above the bowels of the bureaucracy. You are in that circle.” He described her story as “inconceivable.” [Washington Post, 7/6/03]

Associated Events

Quote, July 6, 2003

   “The next day [January 29, 2003—the day after President Bush's 2002 State of the Union address], I reminded a friend at the State Department of my trip and suggested that if the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them. He replied that perhaps the president was speaking about one of the other three African countries that produce uranium: Gabon, South Africa or Namibia. At the time, I accepted the explanation. I didn't know that in December, a month before the president's address, the State Department had published a fact sheet that mentioned the Niger case.” [New York Times, 7/6/03]

Associated Events




No related entities for this entity.


Joseph C. Wilson actively participated in the following events:


Late February 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       The CIA sends Joseph C. Wilson, a retired US diplomat, to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from that country. The trip is paid for by the CIA. But the identity of the party who requests the mission is later disputed. While Wilson will claim the trip was requested directly by Dick Cheney's office, other sources will say that the CIA had decided that a delegation to Niger was needed in order to investigate questions raised by one of Dick Cheney's aides. [The Washington Post, 6/12/03; New York Times, 7/6/03; New York Times, 5/6/03; Independent, 6/29/03 Sources: Unnamed senior officials, Joseph C. Wilson] In Niger, Wilson makes “it abundantly clear to everyone” that he is “acting on behalf of the United States government.” He meets with US Ambassador to Niger Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick who informs Wilson that she has already concluded that the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq are unfounded. She tells Wilson “she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington.” After spending eight days chatting with current government officials, former government officials, and people associated with the country's uranium business, Wilson concludes the rumors are false. He calls the allegations “bogus and unrealistic.” [The Washington Post, 6/12/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; ABC News, 6/12/03; Independent, 6/29/03; New York Times, 7/6/03; CBS News, 7/11/03; Novak, 7/14/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 282 Sources: Joseph C. Wilson]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick  Additional Info 

March 9, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       The CIA sends a 1 1/2-page cable to the White House, the FBI, the Justice Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, with news that a CIA source (Joseph Wilson) sent to Niger has failed to find any evidence to back claims that Iraq sought uranium from that country. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 6/12/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; BBC, 7/8/03; The Washington Post, 6/13/03; ABC News, 6/12/03; BBC, 7/8/03 Sources: senior CIA official] Bush administration officials will later say in June 2003 that the cable left out important details of the trip. They will say it did not include the name of the diplomat who had gone to Niger or his conclusions. And consequently, The Washington Post will report in June 2003, “It was not considered unusual or very important and not passed on to Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, or other senior White House officials.” [The Washington Post, 6/12/03; The Washington Post, 6/13/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03 Sources: senior administration official] But the CIA source who made the journey, Joseph Wilson, will find this explanation hard to believe. “Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission,” he will later explain. “The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a CIA report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.” [New York Times, 7/6/03 Sources: Joseph C. Wilson]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson

(September 24, 2002)      Complete Iraq timeline

       Joe Wilson, who had been sent to Niger by the CIA in February 2002 (see Late February 2002) and who had determined that the allegations that Iraq had sought to obtain uranium from Niger were false, contacts the CIA and advises the agency to inform the British about the intelligence that had been acquired during his mission to Niger. The London Independent later reports, “When he saw ... claims [that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from an African country] in Britain's dossier on Iraq last September, he even went as far as telling CIA officials that they needed to alert their British counterparts to his investigation.” [Independent, 6/29/03]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson

November 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       Former US Diplomat Joseph Wilson warns in an interview with Knight Ridder that a post-Saddam occupation could turn into “a very, very nasty affair.” He explains: “There will be vengeful killings against the Sunnis, against the Tikritites [Hussein's clan], against the Ba'aths. There will be Shi'ia grabs in the south and probably Baghdad. There will be Kurdish grabs for power.... And in the middle of that will be an American occupation force.... This war is not going to be over when we get to Baghdad. In fact, the war will have just essentially begun.” [Knight Ridder, 11/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson

May 6, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, citing unnamed sources, breaks the story of former US diplomat Joseph Wilson's February 2002 trip to Niger (see Late February 2002). The major source for the story is later revealed to be Wilson himself. [New York Times, 5/6/2003; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 282]
People and organizations involved: Nicholas Kristof, Joseph C. Wilson

June 9, 2003-July 6, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       Former ambassador Joseph Wilson is infuriated by Condoleezza Rice's June 9 claim (see June 9, 2003) that top officials were unaware of doubts over the Niger uranium claim. He contacts friends in the government and asks them to pass on the message that if Rice does not correct the record, he will (see 2:28 p.m. May 29, 2003). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 282]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Joseph C. Wilson

July 6, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       Former ambassador Joseph Wilson writes an op-ed piece in the New York Times describing in detail his 2002 visit to Niger (see June 9, 2003). He makes it very clear that he believes his findings had been “circulated to the appropriate officials within ... [the] government.”. [New York Times, 7/6/2003]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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