“If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why),” he wrote. “If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses.”
That suggestion did not sit well with Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the administration. A week after the Op-Ed was published, Robert Novak, a syndicated columnist with conservative leanings and Republican connections, wrote a column identifying Ms. Plame as a C.I.A. operative, a startling breach given that her work required secrecy.
An investigation into the leak of Ms. Plame’s identity led to charges against Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., not for leaking the information but for lying about his conversations with reporters about Ms. Plame and for obstruction of justice. President Bush commuted his 30-month prison sentence, and last year President Trump gave him a full pardon.
For Mr. Wilson, the decision to write the Op-Ed article was a matter of patriotic duty.
“The path to writing the op-ed piece had been straightforward in my own mind,” he wrote in a 2004 memoir, “The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Put the White House on Trial and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity.” “My government had refused to address the fundamental question of how the lie regarding Saddam’s supposed attempt to purchase African uranium had found its way into the State of the Union address. Time after time during the previous four months, from March to July, administration spokespeople had sloughed off the reality that the president of the United States had sent our country to war in order to defend us against the threat of the ‘mushroom cloud,’ when they knew, as did I, that at least one of the two ‘facts’ underpinning the case was not a fact at all.”
Ms. Plame, in a telephone interview, said he had never regretted the decision.
“He did it because he felt it was his responsibility as a citizen,” she said. “It was not done out of partisan motivation, despite how it was spun.”
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