I caught this letter from the Denialist wing of the Republican Party over at Talking Points Memo. The whole thing's bullshit, but this line caught my eye:
Why was a war critic selected by the CIA to vet British claims of Saddam's interest in "yellowcake"? The answer is he was selected by his wife.
(Of course, Wilson was the former ambassador to Gabon, a country which provides yellowcake uranium to France for its nuclear industry, so he knows something about how countries do that. He was also a Clinton advisor on Africa and Bush and Reagan stuck him in Iraq. Of course, those couldn't be reasons...)
What this letter made me wonder, though, is this: Of what war was Joseph Wilson a critic? Up until more than a year after Joseph Wilson returned with his report in February 2002, the White House was still saying it was undecided about whether or not the U.S. would need to attack Iraq. Before Wilson took his little trip, there was no war for him to criticize. Wilson, in fact, had been arguing to Clinton that we needed to ensure that Iraq was disarmed and had been doing that for some years. His sin, apparently, was that, as Novak put it in the column that fired up the recent scandal, he considered "military action as a last resort." Funny, but that's what the White House said they were doing, too.
We are fighting terror with all the tools we have at our disposal: diplomacy and law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security. As a last resort, we have turned to our military. - George W. Bush, April 16, 2003
The attacks of September the 11, 2001 showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terror states could do with weapons of mass destruction. We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise. And, as a last resort, we must be willing to use military force. We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force. - George W. Bush, March 8, 2003
The President views the use of military force as a last resort, which he hopes can be avoided. But it's a last resort that if he makes the decision that it's necessary to engage in, he will do so to protect the people of the United States from attack. - Ari Fleischer, February 24, 2003
The President understands, and is the first one to understand, that in the event he reaches this conclusion that Saddam Hussein has refused to disarm, Saddam Hussein continues to defy the inspectors and to hide his weapons, and that if the only way to achieve disarmament is through military action, the President is the first to understand the need to communicate that message to the American people. And indeed, he is prepared to do so, if it gets to that point.
It has not reached that point at this time. - Ari Fleischer, January 13, 2003
You said we're headed to war in Iraq -- I don't know why you say that. I hope we're not headed to war in Iraq. I'm the person who gets to decide, not you. I hope this can be done peacefully. - George W. Bush, December 31, 2002
I don't think President Putin was suggesting that President Bush needs to have that -- he understands clearly that President Bush has a focus that is militarily oriented toward Iraq as a last resort. - Ari Fleischer, November 23, 2002
War is a last resort. But the choice is Saddam Hussein's. And we don't want any game playing, and we've made that abundantly clear. And it is his choice; he needs to follow through. - Scott McClellan, November 14, 2002
Again, this is getting into "ifs" and everything, all hypotheticals. It's very clear what he needs to do. This is about disarmament and this is a final opportunity for Saddam Hussein to disarm. If he chooses not to do so peacefully, then the United States is prepared to act, with our friends, to do so by force. And we will do so forcefully and swiftly and decisively, as the President has outlined. But the President continues to seek a peaceful resolution. War is a last resort. - Scott McClellan, November 12, 2002
So Joseph Wilson was, basically, about as much a "critic of the war" before it started as George Bush and the rest of our pals in the White House.
But, Robert Novak adds, after the war Wilson was all kinds of pissy.
He has seemed much more critical of the administration since revealing his role in Niger. In the Washington Post July 6, he talked about the Bush team "misrepresenting the facts," asking: "What else are they lying about?"
I wonder why, Bob. Could it be that the man actually took the White House at their word when they said war would be a "last resort"? Could it be that he believed the White House was posturing to achieve a result in Iraq, but realized, once the war had begun, that they were just plain liars who were taking us into a war based on information that he, more than the rest of us, knew to be false?
There is no indication so far that, prior to his mission to Niger, Joseph Wilson opposed Bush on Iraq. Nor is there evidence that he opposed Bush after his return from Iraq. The only evidence available says that a respected diplomat was asked by his country to do a job and, finding that his country was being led by people who lacked integrity, decided to stand up for truth. He is the best current example of the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished.