Wilson: Bush 'Ought to Keep His Word,' Fire Rove

ByABC News
July 15, 2005, 1:23 PM

July 15, 2005 — -- In an interview with ABC News' Jake Tapper, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson said President Bush "really ought to keep his word to the American people" and fire deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

Wilson criticized the White House's response to the disclosure that Rove, a top-level Bush aide, had a role in the leak to a news reporter that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA officer.

The following is a transcript of the interview:

JAKE TAPPER: Some might say, politically speaking, there's little upside in speaking out against the administration, because you're controversial and the White House is damaging itself. Why are you speaking out so much?

AMBASSADOR JOSEPH WILSON: At the end of the day, there's this smear campaign that they've launched is one that's very personal. It's a personal attack on my wife and myself. It is based on distortions and untruths. And I think it's important that the record be corrected. But let my just say that, by and large, this is not a political question. This is a national security question. It's a question of whether or not this country and this administration will tolerate somebody having leaked classified information to the press in a manner that is unethical and quite possibly illegal.

TAPPER: And you think that Karl Rove leaked your wife's identity to the press?

WILSON: What I've said all along is that I have information that, within a week of Mr. [Bob] Novak's article having appeared on July 14th of 2003, Mr. Rove was calling up reporters and pushing the story. I find the idea of a senior White House official engaged in political dirty tricks and smear campaigns to be below the ethical standards we have the right to demand of our senior public servants. With the release of this e-mail from Mr. Cooper, the Time magazine reporter, to his boss indicating that he had spoken to Mr. Rove about my wife several days before the Novak article appeared, I think there's real evidence there that he did in fact give away my wife's identity before Mr. Novak or any other article appeared.

TAPPER: Not specifically by name though, is what his defenders would say.

WILSON: I only have one wife and her name is Valerie Wilson so when he says "Wilson's wife" he's saying "Mrs. Wilson," and as I say, her name is Mrs. Wilson.

TAPPER: There are a lot of charges coming at you from the Republican Party in defense of Mr. Rove. One of them is that Karl Rove did not know what your wife's name was, so he couldn't have truly "identified" her.

WILSON: The Intelligence Identities Protection Act doesn't call for naming by name, it calls for identifying the individual. So when he said "Wilson's wife," he identified her. And her name, again, is Valerie Wilson.

TAPPER: But doesn't the Intelligence Identities Protection Act also call that he would have had to have known that she was undercover?

WILSON: That's something that the special council is obviously in the process of determining. Again, irrespective or whether or not what he said was criminal under in the context of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, it's very clear that he knew from this e-mail that she worked for the CIA, and he knew that she was my wife, and he said "Wilson's wife," and her name is Valerie Wilson.