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Ex-Envoy in Leak Case Backs Hillary Clinton

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV -- perhaps better known as the husband of Valerie Plame, of CIA-leak-case fame -- threw his support behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for the White House on Monday, issuing a statement through the Clinton campaign office.

"I have known Hillary Clinton for a decade. She is the one candidate who, in my judgment, understands the need to get Americans out of harm's way and to move this to a political process," Wilson said, in comments that sounded remarkably like the campaign's own talking points on Iraq. "She knows what to do. She has the leadership. On day one, she will be able to reach out to the international community, and I am delighted to fight the fight with her."

Wilson, a retired diplomat, has been the subject of considerable controversy since July 2003, when he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times revealing that he had been sent on a fact-finding mission to Niger before the Iraq war to help prove that Saddam Hussein was seeking to purchase weapons of mass destruction. Wilson said he had reported back that Iraq had not tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger -- undermining the administration's case for war. Subsequently, columnist Robert D. Novak wrote that Plame was a covert CIA operative, triggering a cascade of events that led to the leak investigation and the conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Along the way, Wilson became a staunch critic of the war. In the same news release announcing Wilson's endorsement, Clinton issued her own comments.

"Joe Wilson has stood up to this administration and held it accountable for the misinformation that led us into the Iraq war," the New York Democrat said. "I'm so pleased that we share the goal of ending this war so that we can begin bringing our troops home safely."

Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, declined to comment.

-- Anne E. Kornblut

McCain Loses His Voice

The exodus from Sen. John McCain's campaign continued Monday as his national press staff announced their departures.

Communications director Brian Jones and his two top aides, Danny Diaz and Matt David, said they will leave the Arizona Republican's operation at the end of the week. Jill Hazelbaker, who has been doing press for McCain in New Hampshire, is likely to take over, aides said.

Two others -- research director Brian Rogers and South Carolina spokesman Adam Temple -- also quit. All five are proteges of Terry Nelson, the onetime McCain campaign manager who quit last week after a second consecutive quarter of disappointing fundraising.


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