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Fomer ambassador mashes Bush, GOP
By CHARLES E. BEGGS / Associated Press
Civil war is virtually inevitable in Iraq whenever the United States withdraws its forces from the country and maybe sooner, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson told Oregon Democrats on Saturday.
Wilson, who gained national attention when the identity of his wife as an undercover CIA operative was leaked to the news media in 2003, was keynote speaker at the state Democratic Party's biennial summit conference.
The former American ambassador to Iraq and several African countries lashed the Bush administration, along with Republicans generally, in an hour-long talk to the partisan gathering.
"This president has no credibility, he has failed us," Wilson said.
He said the "president's men" have "defamed and slandered citizens who have done nothing more than bring truth to power," in a reference to attacks against him after he accused the White House of manipulating intelligence information to justify the Iraq invasion.
He said he believes the administration used leaks to disclose his wife Valerie Plame's occupation, possibly a federal crime, in revenge for his criticism.
Wilson traveled to Africa to look into reports that Iraq was trying to by uranium there to use to produce nuclear weapons. He said he found no truth to the story and publicly criticized the government after President Bush referred to the report in a speech.
The resulting war that he said was justified by "lies and deceptions" has cost the nation "more in international support than anyone could have imagined.
"We are feared and reviled and viewed as another imperial power," he said. "Iraq is possibly the dumbest of all wars fought for the wrong reasons.
"The American occupation, far from being the solution, is the problem."
He said he isn't for a precipitous withdrawal of American troops from Iraq but that he believes "there will be civil war whenever we leave" or possibly sooner because of strife the country's proposed constitution.
He said the proposal is essentially "a negotiated truce between the Shiite and Kurds" that does nothing to deal with legitimate Sunni grievances.
Adoption of the constitution "will almost certainly guarantee the institutionalization of civil war," he said.