Former ambassador calls Roberts ‘congenital liar’ complicit in torture scandal
While Sen. Pat Roberts is hosting national Republican figures to help out in his re-election campaign, another national figure is weighing in on the race, accusing the Kansas senator of being a “congenital liar” who was complicit in allowing U.S. intelligence agencies to engage in torture.
Joseph C. Wilson, the husband of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame and a key figure in the intelligence reports used to justify the war in Iraq, laid out those charges Sunday in a blog post on HuffingtonPost.com. In it, he accuses Roberts of trying to deceive Kansas voters about his residency in the state. But he says Roberts engaged in an even bigger deception when he was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the early years of the war in Iraq.
“For years, he was nothing more than (Vice President) Dick Cheney’s poodle,” Wilson wrote. “He protected those elements of the CIA following the Bush-Cheney orders on torture, as the soon-to-be published Senate torture report under Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) will make clear. It was Roberts who let it all happen.”
According to recent published reports the Intelligence Committee, which Feinstein now chairs, has produced a 6,000-page report on the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” since the attacks of 9/11. The report has been submitted for declassifcation but not yet released to the public.
Wilson was a retired ambassador when he was sent to Niger in 2002 to investigate suspicions that Saddam Hussein was attempting to buy uranium yellowcake as part of a nuclear weapons program.
Despite the fact that he found no evidence of any such attempt, President George W. Bush later asserted that he had, and mentioned it in his 2003 State of the Union address as part of his justification for launching a war to overthrow the Iraqi dictator.
The misrepresentation of Wilson’s report was made public when Wilson wrote an op-ed article in the New York Times in July that year titled “What I didn’t find in Africa.” Soon after publication of that article, Bush administration officials leaked to the press that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.
Roberts was a member of the Intelligence Committee, which has oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies, and in January 2003 he became chairman of that panel.
The Intelligence Committee conducted a lengthy investigation into the use of intelligence leading up to the war, and Roberts was frequently accused of dragging his feet on that investigation. The final report, accusing the Bush administration of deliberately misusing intelligence to justify the war, was not published until 2008, after Roberts had left the committee.
The Phase I report, released in December 2003, examined the intelligence community’s pre-war assessment that Iraq was trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. It found, among other things, that before Wilson’s trip, it was reasonable to believe that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium.
But Roberts wrote a separate “Additional Views” report suggesting that it was Wilson’s wife who recommended he be sent to Niger, and that Wilson’s public statements were not based on his own actual knowledge but, rather, media reports he had read after the fact — a charge that Wilson called “libelous.”
“Both accusations were bald lies, as I pointed out in a letter to the committee and in my book ‘The Politics of Truth,'” Wilson wrote Sunday.
“Roberts, who did his best to cover up serious crimes against national security was the single worst Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in its history — the most actively incompetent and disgraceful,” he wrote.
The Roberts campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wilson’s article.