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Political intrigue comes to Valley

first_imgNORTHRIDGE – Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson has been called everything from a courageous whistle-blower to a gutless traitor in his quest to hold the Bush administration accountable for “misleading” the American public about Iraq. But Wilson’s case got a shot in the arm Thursday when just hours before he addressed students at California State University, Northridge, news broke from Washington that President George W. Bush had authorized a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney to leak classified pre-war intelligence. What was supposed to be just another lecture and book-signing stop for Wilson became a public opportunity to breathe fresh life into the Iraq debate. The Bush administration has already been accused of leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, who happens to be Wilson’s wife. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventAnd while Cheney’s aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, did not testify that Bush ordered Plame’s outing, Libby’s statements to prosecutors raised the question. “If in fact the president and the vice president are dragged into this, it turns a political scandal into a constitutional crisis,” Wilson said before his lecture to CSUN students. “I hope they were smarter than that. I have to tell you, in all candor, I don’t know that they were.” Wilson claims his wife’s career was ruined – and her life endangered – as an act of “pure revenge.” Knowingly revealing a covert agent is a federal crime. Conversely, the president has the authority to declassify intelligence, which is essentially what occurred when Libby leaked it to The New York Times. That directive came after the fall of Baghdad, at a time when Americans were beginning to question Bush’s reasons for going to war. No weapons of mass destruction had – or have – been found and, on July 6, 2003, The New York Times published a scathing column titled “What I Did Not Find in Africa.” Penned by Joseph C. Wilson IV, the column effectively debunked a key tenet of the Bush administration’s justification for invading Iraq: namely, that Saddam Hussein was actively seeking a key ingredient for nuclear weapons in Africa. It remains unclear whether administration officials knew Plame was a covert agent. Presidential adviser Karl Rove has been identified as providing Plame’s name to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper, though he has not been charged. And Libby has been indicted for perjury during the leak investigation. The CSUN lecture, which was open only to students and faculty members, had been planned for months but Thursday’s news from Washington caused organizers to be a bit more frenzied. But students welcomed the serendipity. “This is the headline news of the evening. It is very bizarre when that happens at your campus or in your neck of the woods,” said Leanne Vincent, student leadership coordinator. “Whatever it is, it’s a great learning experience.” [email protected] (818) 713-3634160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more