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Enemy of the State

WMD whistle-blower Joe Wilson talks about the search for answers in the leak of his wife's CIA identity and why his anger at the Bush administration hasn't mellowed

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I think Karl Rove's career has suffered because of fundamental misjudgments about the character of this country, and about the character of normal Republicans.

But do you think he or Libby or anyone else involved will ever really suffer any repercussions?

I don't know. Our judgment is that, I think [Special Counsel Patrick] Fitzgerald made it very clear that unless new evidence was introduced, his investigation into the matter was over, leaving us with only the civil case as a means of getting the truth out, holding them to account and deterring future generations of government officials from engaging in the same behavior.

You were described in one media account [Vanity Fair] as "a controversial public figure: a hero to many anti-war Democrats, a preening careerist to his critics." Where do you think the latter reputation or view comes form?

I think that this administration didn't really like it when somebody would actually stand up and say that the emperor was wearing no clothes. And they acted in every way possible to destroy me. I served my country for 22 years. I served as ambassador to two countries, I was in charge at the Embassy in Baghdad in the first Gulf War. I retired from the foreign service in '98 with no ambition to come back into the foreign service.

All of my actions have been dedicated to ensuring that there was full and free debate on what we should be doing in Iraq prior to doing it, not five years afterward.

Moreover, it is a First Amendment obligation of the citizen to petition his government for the redress of a grievance and that's what I did in writing my article for The New York Times. All this other stuff is just fluff that they would just want you to believe.

Based on your experience in the Middle East, what do you think it will take to get troops out of Iraq in the best way possible?

Well, I think the presence of our troops [is] undermined by the lack of a political process. The President of the United States has exercised, as far as I can tell, zero presidential leadership in trying to get the insurgents and their foreign backers off the streets and at a conference table to try to solve this politically.

I know something about that, having been involved in the political process that put together the coalition in the first Gulf War and also having been involved to a lesser degree in the efforts of President Clinton and Dick Holbrooke [former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations] to bring the parties from the former Yugoslavia to the Dayton Accords [the peace treaty that ended the war in Bosnia]. This president, when was the last time anybody heard of this president calling a leader in the region? Aside from the Secretary of State making trips out there every two months or so, there's very little international action to try to bring this to a political solution. That's what's really lacking in this whole thing.

Wilson will speak at 7 p.m. Saturday at Spratts, Bank of America Corporate Center, Founders Hall, Second Floor, 100 N. Tryon St. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md; U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C.; and Kissell also will be there. Tickets are $50. For more information or for tickets, e-mail kissellforcongressevent@yahoo.com or call 910-428-4058.

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