Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson To Speak on ‘Speaking Truth to Power and the Consequences’

Citizenship Forum will take place Nov. 14 at the University of Baltimore.

SOURCE: University of Baltimore
Wilson will relate his experiences on the consequences of citizens speaking out against their government, either as government whistleblowers or simply as aggrieved private citizens.
Joseph Wilson, former United States ambassador to Iraq before the first Gulf War in 1991, a career diplomat who served under five presidents and now a noted critic of the second Bush administration—especially in the wake of the “outing” of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent—will discuss “Speaking Truth to Power and the Consequences” on Monday, Nov. 14. Wilson is the featured speaker for the second annual Citizenship Forum, presented by the University of Baltimore’s School of Public Affairs. This event will take place at 7 p.m. in the William H. Thumel, Sr. Business Center, 11 W. Mount Royal Ave.

Wilson also will sign copies of his 2004 book, The Politics of Truth, which recounts his life story as a foreign service officer from the 1970s through the ’90s. His tenure included posts in several African nations and Germany, and he also served in the top diplomatic position in Iraq prior to that country’ invasion of Kuwait. In its newly revised version, the book details the lengthy political struggle that resulted in his wife’s confidential position at the CIA being broadcast by reporters and columnists like Robert Novak. The scandal is at the center of an ongoing grand jury investigation that has captivated Washington insiders, the media and the public.

This event is free and open to the public and will take place in the Thumel Business Center’s M. Scot Kaufman Auditorium and atrium. A fund-raising reception with Wilson will be held prior to the lecture at 6 p.m. to benefit the Randolph B. Rosencrantz Memorial Fund, sponsor of the Citizenship Forum. (See details on the fundraiser at end of this story.)

Wilson’s two decades of public service, which included diplomatic positions in South Africa, Niger, Togo, Burundi, Congo, Germany and Iraq, ended with his retirement in 1998. He served as the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Baghdad from 1988 to 1991, as political adviser to the commander-in-chief of United States Armed Forces in Europe and as the ambassador to the Gabonese Republic and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe from 1991 to 1995.

In 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney requested that the CIA investigate claims that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire materials from Niger to further his alleged nuclear program. Wilson, hired by the agency, traveled to Niger but reported back that he found no evidence of illegal activity. Regardless, the claims were repeated in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address. Wilson wrote a New York Times op-ed disputing the charge and, later that year, his wife was exposed as a CIA operative. Since then, the case has broadened to include accusations against the White House, the vice president and even reporters from leading national publications. Indictments, which may include charges of espionage, are widely expected to be handed down in the coming weeks.

During his talk at the University of Baltimore, Wilson will relate his experiences on the consequences of citizens speaking out against their government, either as government whistleblowers or simply as aggrieved private citizens. He will reflect on the sometimes disparate roles of the public official and private citizen in ensuring accountability for government actions.

Wilson received numerous accolades during his career in government, including the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Award, the Department of State Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, the University of California, Santa Barbara Distinguished Alumna Award and the American Foreign Service Association’s William R. Rivkin Award. In 2003, he received the Ron Ridenhour Award for Truth-Telling.

Wilson now manages JCWilson International Ventures, a consulting firm specializing in strategic management and international business development.

The Randolph B. Rosencrantz Memorial Fund was established for the University of Baltimore's School of Public Affairs to honor the life and public service efforts of Randolph B. Rosencrantz, a prominent Democrat who was Baltimore County’s highest appointed official during the 1970s county executive administration of Theodore G. Venetoulis. The fund supports the study and promotion of civic involvement, including the Citizenship Forum. The first forum, held last fall, focused on methods for citizen participation. Contributions to the Rosencrantz Fund may be made to the University of Baltimore Educational Foundation.

For the Wilson event, a ticketed reception to benefit the Rosencrantz Fund will be held at 6 p.m. in the Business Center atrium. Tickets are $50 per person. Call 410-366-7440 to register for the lecture or attend the reception, or e-mail RBRFoundation@aol.com.

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This story was published on November 3, 2005.