Ambassador Joe Wilson to speak in La Cañada

Former Ambassador Joe Wilson, a career diplomat primarily known in connection with a probe into who in the White House exposed his wife as an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency, will be in La Cañada Flintridge next month.

Wilson will serve as guest speaker at the Sept. 30 luncheon hosted by the La Cañada Flintridge Democratic Club.

Wilson was a United States diplomat from 1976 to 1998 for both Democratic and Republican administrations. He served at posts throughout African and served as ambassador to Gabon in West Africa.

He was ambassador to Baghdad when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. He became part of the fact-finding mission concerning Iraq’s attempt to buy uranium from Niger.

Wilson disagreed first privately then publicly, with the Bush administration concerning Iraq’s connections to purchasing materials for weapons of mass destruction. The battle between the ambassador and those inside the administration became increasingly vocal.

But Wilson is probably better known for the recent government probe into who released to the press the fact that his wife, Valerie Plame, was with the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] at the time.

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby , Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, was convicted of lying and obstruction of the leak investigation, his 2-to- 2 ½ year sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush last month.

“I interviewed [Wilson] in 2003,” said Joseph Mealey, La Cañada resident and director of the documentary “Bush’s Brain.” The film looked into the influence Karl Rove, Bush’s deputy chief of staff. Mealey is a member of LCF Democratic Club and invited Wilson to speak at the meeting.

“The reason I asked him to come to La Cañada is because I think he is an American hero,” Mealey said.

Mealey said that Wilson had earned the respect not only of Democratic leaders but of President George H. Bush during his term.

“George senior said [Wilson] was a hero and that he stood up to Saddam Hussein,” Mealey said.

Mealey also has great respect for the fact that Wilson stood up for what he thought was right when he disagreed with the current administration.

“The White House put the full force of their machine to get him,” Mealey said.

Wilson is expected to speak on a variety of current issues including the continuing investigation into the “outing” of his wife at the CIA and his disagreement concerning the war in Iraq.

La Cañada is not typically thought of as a Democrat-friendly area, but times are changing.

“It may be true [La Cañada] has not been a Democratic stronghold,” Mealey said. “But we have 200 members and the club was only formed in 2005.”

Having a more visible Democratic presence in the city is a goal of the club. They meet the third Sunday of every month and have a speaker at those meetings, although they may not always be as highly visible as Wilson.

“We have worked months and months on this,” Mealey said.

Fellow member Elaine Hurd helped with the organization of the meeting as well as the continuation of other club events, Mealey said.

He hopes that the more visible they are the more La Cañada Flintridge is thought of as a Democrat as well as a Republican area.

He also has hopes that the fact the state’s primary has been moved ahead will make California more of a necessity for the 2008 presidential candidates.

“In the past they [candidates for both parties] would come here just to pick up a check,” he said.

He is hoping that with speakers like Wilson, Democratic candidates can be enticed to the city and the club’s events.

The Sept. 30 luncheon with Wilson begins with a silent auction and cocktails at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served at 1 p.m. at the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club, 5500 Godbey Drive. Tickets are $100 per person, table of ten for $1,000 with a limited number of Premium Table for $1,250 and Prime Tables for $1,500. Table seating is assigned on a first come first serve basis and space is limited. For tickets or information call 503-3325, e-mail lcfdemocrat@pacbell.net or visit online at www.lacanadadems.org.

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