RIP Tyler Drumheller, CIA Operative & Iraq War Truthteller

With President Obama rightly sounding a cautionary tone during his speech yesterday promoting the Iran nuclear deal—by citing the many examples of flawed judgment shown during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq—I note with rue and sadness the death this week of Tyler Drumheller, longtime CIA operative and an Iraq War truthteller whose book, On the Brink: An Insider’s Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence written with Elaine Monahan, I edited and published with him (Philip Turner Books, Carroll & Graf, 2006). Tyler wrote about how he and other US intelligence officials had spotted early on that the Iraqi source Curveball was a serial fabricator whose claims about mobile biological weapons labs should not be believed. Yet Curveball’s claims remained in the inventory of malarkey from unreliable Iraqis that Bush administration officials exploited, with his bogus info being inserted into Colin Powell’s disastrous speech at the UN. As Greg Miller’s excellent Washington Post obit on Drumheller reports, Tyler was flabbergasted when he heard Powell’s speech, and bravely tangled in print and on “60 Minutes” with the CIA Director George Tenet about Curveball. It was a distinct pleasure for Tyler when I suggested to him that we use the agency photo of the two of them for the back cover photo that you see below.

I worked on Tyler’s book amid an amazing, energized period of six years during which I also acquired, edited, and published Susan McDougal’s The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk: Why I Wouldn’t Testify Against the Clintons and What I Learned in Jail (Carroll & Graf, 2001), which sort of stamped ‘paid-back’ to the Whitewater years, and Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s blockbuster book The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity, (Carroll & Graf, 2004) a story that was in the news for months, bridging Bush’s first and second terms. Following Tyler’s book—a true insider’s account that showed definitively how determined the Bushies had been to find and cultivate intelligence that would give them a pretext for invading Iraq—with journalist Murray Waas I brought out The United States v. I. Lewis Libby (Union Square Press, 2007), a compendium of public documents that featured the transcript from the trial that saw Scooter Libby, Chief of Staff to VP Cheney, prosecuted for obstructing justice in the circumstances surrounding the release of Valerie Plame Wilson’s CIA status. I’ve written more here about these books and the years when rogue prosecutors, the Bush administration, and determined adversaries were targeting authors with whom I worked.

I’m thinking of Tyler today, who less than ten years ago was devoting his reluctant retirement from the CIA to exposing how the agency had been used and abused by Bush administration officials to justify the tragic invasion of Iraq. I’m so relieved that a decade later President Obama is in charge of our foreign policy, determined to use diplomacy to make peace with adversaries.

Lee Child Announces Next Jack Reacher Novel: PERSONAL

As readers of this blog may recall from previous posts, I love Lee Child’s books, so I was excited to see this announcement on Twitter today: New Jack Reacher novel, PERSONAL
I love the title on this, because if you’ve read a Jack Reacher novel, you know that from injustices inflicted on others to antagonists trying to hurt him or push him off a case, he takes things personally. And yet,  he does it without ever losing his enormously capable ways and impressive self-possession. Last October I had the good fortune to meet Lee Child at a book party celebrating Valerie Plame’s novel Blowback . Here’s a shot of Valerie signing her book for Child.Lee Child, Valerie Plame

Wrapping Up a Week of NY Celebrations & Great Reading

It’s been a celebratory week in NYC and an active one on The Great Gray Bridge, so here is a summary of recent highlights for interested readers who may have missed any of them.

Ruth Gruber & Philip Turner1) Celebrating Photojournalist & Author Ruth Gruber’s 102nd Birthday With Her
2) Word of an Important New Book on Bob Dylan By a ’60s Confidant
3) Celebrating Valerie Plame’s “Blowback”&Recalling Tumultous Events of a Decade Ago
#FridayReads, Oct. 4–Katie Hafner’s Exquisite Memoir “Mother Daughter Me”

Celebrating Valerie Plame’s “Blowback” & Recalling Tumultous Events of a Decade Ago


Blowback frontKyle and Ewan and I had a great time last night at the book party for Valerie Plame’s terrific new spy novel Blowback, co-authored with Sarah Lovett. I  had picked up a galley of it at BEA last June, and really enjoyed it a lot. I’d been looking forward to the party for some weeks, as in 2003-04 I edited and published The Politics of Truth–A Diplomat’s Memoir: Insider the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity by Valerie’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. It was going to be a treat to see Valerie and Joe last night.

Joe and I had last met up in 2010 when he was part of a New York Times panel that included Nora Ephron, Anna Devere Smith, Roy Blount, Jr., and Garrison Keillor marking the 25th anniversary of the Times’ Op-Ed pages. It was moderated by then Op-Ed page editor David Shipley*, who invited Joe because he judged Joe’s July 6 2003 op-ed  What I Didn’t Find in Africa had been one of the most historically significant columns the newspaper published that decade. It led to the Bush administration’s repeated disclosures that Joe’s wife Valerie Plame was a CIA official and years of flimsy denials that the administration had doctored the intelligence that fueled their false claims about WMDs in Iraq, enabling the unjustified invasion of the country.

Publishing The Politics of Truth was a high-wire act for Joe, for me and for Carroll & Graf that lasted over a year. In July ’03, I heard about it right away when Valerie’s CIA employment was reported by columnist Robert Novak. A few weeks later indie book publicist Barbara Monteiro connected me with Joe. She had earlier worked on the book I did with Whitewater heroine Susan MacDougal. Barbara knew my sense of justice would’ve been offended by what was being done to Valerie, and Joe. He had been writing opinion columns about Bush’s misguided rush to war and was already thinking of writing a book. We quickly made a deal and got to work while the news story swirling around Valerie and Joe grew and grew.

Right off the bat, we were fortunate in that before retiring from the State Dept in 1998, following 25 years in the foreign service, Joe had sat for a full oral history of his career. He had the transcript and used it as an aide-mémoire and the basis of the historical portions of the book, later justifying our use of two subtitles on the front cover and spine! With this foundation, Joe then wrote practically every day and in February ’04 he delivered an excellent 150,000 word manuscript to me. C & G leapt in to action, as colleagues from several departments and I line-edited, copyedited, designed, typeset, indexed, and produced the book on a “crash” production schedule, for planned release only four months later, in what was going to be May ’04, less than a year after Novak’s column. From a marketing and strategic standpoint, it was like riding a tiger.

The toughest part of this as a publishing proposition was that though the story had only gotten bigger over the intervening months–and while we knew we’d be able to book Joe on tons of media–at the same time we wondered and worried:

  • What will be the state of the journalistic investigations and of the federal grand jury hearings looking into the unauthorized disclosure when we publish the book?
  • How can Joe in the book, in his public statements, and we in our press materials take advantage of new developments while still conforming to the latest important events?
  • How could we take advantage of breaking news but not have Joe get too far out on things that were constantly shifting?

Of course, for Valerie and Joe it was more than a publishing proposition, it was their lives. This was a dynamic in publishing a book I had never encountered before, a delicate strategic challenge. I was already a highly-tuned-in-to-news-person, especially after the 2000 presidential election and 9/11, but this tendency became even more pronounced the year I was actively working every day on Joe’s book. The book sold more than 60,000 copies in hardcover and spent more than a month on the NY Times Bestseller list. I have written about the lessons I learned working on it a number of times on this blog, in such posts as “Hubris”–10 Years Later, Run-up to the Iraq War Still Shadows the Media & the U.S. and On the Imperative of Publishing Whistleblowers.

Last night’s party for Valerie and Sarah Lovett was hosted by director Doug Liman, author Naomi Wolf, and producer Avram Ludwig. Liman had directed the 2010 movies “Fair Game” with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, based on Valerie’s 2006 book, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House and on The Politics of Truth.

We enjoyed meeting the three co-hosts and many of our fellow guests. Among the latter group was one of my favorite suspense writers Lee Child, with whom we happened to ride up in the elevator. About Blowback he’s said: “Great storytelling, real insider authenticity, and above all a fascinating main character in Vanessa Pierson. And maybe those initials are not a coincidence–sometimes fiction can reveal things nonfiction can’t.” The latter part of Child’s blurb–and the reference to “redaction” in my tweet above–are rueful nods to the unfortunate fact that Fair Game was heavily redacted by the Bush-era CIA, and though it had a well-reported Afterword by national security reporter Laura Rozen, the many blacked-out passages inevitably left readers in the dark in many areas. I’ve included three of Child’s books among my weekly #FridayReads essays, including Worth Dying For, a true corker of a suspense novel, the first of Child’s Jack Reacher books that I read. His latest is  Never Go Back, which I am eager to read. Guest Maggie Topkis–longtime co-proprietor of the NYC mystery bookstore Partners and Crime who nowadays works with Lee Child–told me she thinks it’s his best book yet, which is saying a lot.

I met co-author Sarah Lovett, and told her how much I’d enjoyed reading Blowback. From Blue Rider Press, I congratulated David Rosenthal, Valerie’s publisher, and Executive Editor Sarah Hochman. I was also glad to see the two sides of the recent Penguin Random House merger well represented, with Kent Anderson, a sales rep from Penguin (now Penguin Random House). He had been with Publishers Group West, distributor for Carroll & Graf, when I published The Politics of Truth there in 2004. With Kent, I saw Madeline McIntosh, COO of Random House, a senior executive in the merged company. I liked that she had come to this book party for a key title of a Penguin imprint.   

I was also glad to see book biz pal Will Schwalbe,* who after a distinguished publishing career has made himself in to a successful author most recently with The End of Your Life Book Club, which I wrote about here. Will explained that he and Naomi had been old college classmates, and said how much he’d enjoyed her poetry from those years. Naomi seemed touched by that. Will graciously introduced me to Naomi who asked how I had come to know Joe and Valerie, at which I mentioned The Politics of Truth . She said how glad she was to be able to show special support for Valerie and her new book. Those comments were echoed when a few minutes later she and Doug Liman convened the gathering for toasts and congratulations. Liman gestured toward a nearby portrait of his late father, the prominent lawyer Arthur Liman, a pivotal player in the Iran-Contra scandal who served as chief counsel to the Senate committee that investigated the Reagan’s administration’s notorious arms-for-hostages conspiracy. The younger Liman cited his father’s example as an inspiration to him in working with dedicated public servants like Valerie and Joe.

After the toasts, I approached Joe once more. As we chatted Ewan took a picture of us. Here it is, along with a few others from last night. (Please click here to see all pics) It was a fun book party and the three of us were very happy to be a part of the celebration.

If you’re looking for realistic and pacy suspense fiction with a smart and appealing female protagonist, I highly recommend Blowback , the first of a series featuring covert operative Vanessa Pierson. Valerie has done lots of media this week including “Morning Joe” (See video below.) One of Valerie’s next stops is going to be in Washington, DC this Friday night, October 5, when Laura Rozen will be interviewing her at Politics & Prose Bookstore.

*Will Schwalbe’s first book, SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better was co-authored with the same David Shipley– Joe Wilson’s Op-Ed editor and moderator of the NY Times panel with Joe, Nora Ephron, etc.


#FridayReads, June 28–Valerie Plame & Sarah Lovett’s “Blowback,” & Amy Grace Loyd’s “The Affairs of Others”

Working my way through my BEA piles for this week’s #FridayReads: Blowback by Valerie Plame & Sarah Lovett; quite a good, pacy thriller setting an American female operative amid a covert operation to apprehend a villainous underworld puppetmaster  who’s selling clandestine nukes to dangerous international players, and killing off the operative’s sources. Coming out in October from Blue Rider Press, this is Plame’s first novel, after her 2007 Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House. That book was heavily redacted by the Bush-era CIA, and though it had a well-reported Afterword by national security reporter Laura Rozen, the many blacked-out passages inevitably left readers in the dark. Because I had worked on her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s 2003 book, The Politics of Truth: Insider the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity, which with Fair Game had formed the basis of the Naomi Watts and Sean Penn 2009 movie of the same name, I was of course interested to read Valerie’s latest book. I had hoped it would be good, and happily have found that her first thriller, written with Sarah Lovett, has an intriguing plot with lots of surprising twists and great insight in to, and empathy for, the complex and sometimes troubled lives of undercover agents, women and men. No redactions this time around!IMG_0657IMG_0656IMG_0655

Have moved on to read The Affairs of Others, Amy Grace Loyd’s novel of modern manners set in a Brooklyn widow’s apartment house, with fascinating cross-currents among her and her tenants. Elegant and smooth sentence-making, with a plot that I know from the BEA Buzz Editors’ panel presentation on the book is going to soon turn toward the sensual and erotic. Knowing that’s to come, it’s all the more notable for its restraint in the first 70 pages. It’s worth adding that I live in a New York apartment building with lots of strange neighbors, so the subplots and side characters in the book are starkly real. The novel by Loyd, who is the fiction editor of, will be out in early September.


“Hubris”–10 Years Later, Run-up to the Iraq War Still Shadows the Media & the U.S.

Tonight MSNBC will broadcast “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War,” narrated by Rachel Maddow, based on the 2006 book of the same name by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. Coming nearly ten years after the US invaded Iraq, on March 19, 2003, I’ll be watching with great interest.

Politics of TruthI retain vivid recall of how the Bush administration pushed the country, and as much of the world as it could hector along with them, into invading that country. It was a mad, misguided rush, one that I was upset about at the time, and soon after became involved with personally and professionally. In July 2003, after Valerie Plame’s role as a CIA official was revealed in a notorious column by Robert Novak, I contacted Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame’s husband. In the months before the invasion of Iraq, he had become a vocal critic of the rush to war, publishing a number of Op-Ed columns that drew on his experience of twenty-five years as an American diplomat, including his service as the last American official to meet with Saddam Hussein before the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991. In my role as an editorial executive with Carroll & Graf Publishers I was referred to Wilson by publishing friend, Barbara Monteiro. I contacted Joe and found he was interested in writing a book that would chronicle his years as an American foreign service officer; more recent events involving his trip to Niger, where he was sent by the CIA to investigate the claim that Iraq had sought yellowcake from that African country; and the unprecedented exposure of his wife’s CIA employment. Joe, as I soon came to know him, agreed to the offer I made, a contract was quickly signed, and he began diligently working on the manuscript.

Fortunately, when Joe retired from the State Department a few years before the war fever he had sat for a series of lengthy interviews with an interlocutor from State–a good custom at the agency–setting his memories down in a proper oral history. He drew on this aide-memoir as he composed the diplomatic memoir that made up about 1/3 of the final manuscript. As for his trip to Niger, the positions he took in opposition to the Bush administration while they were twisting intelligence and co-opting media during he run-up to the war,  and events after the invasion, including the outing of his wife, he had little need of reminders. Joe delivered a very readable manuscript, and with a team of colleagues at Carroll & Graf I edited this draft, and Joe made key revisions to it. Meantime, we also kept a keen eye on breaking developments in the investigation in to how and why Valerie’s CIA employment had become a subject that administration officials felt free to discuss openly with reporters. Getting the manuscript ready for the printer was like aiming an arrow at a moving target.

The launch for the book, The Politics of Truth–A Diplomat’s Memoir: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity, was in early May 2004, less than a year after Novak’s fateful column. Joe went on the TODAY show, Charlie Rose, and he did a ton of public radio shows. I went with him to many of those interviews, sat in green rooms with him, fancy and plain. It was as cool when he did Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, as when we went to Rockefeller Center one morning before 7 AM, to do TODAY . His most interesting TV appearance was on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” when KO shared with Joe and the audience White House talking points supposedly rebutting the book. These had been sent to virtually all news outlets, including even to programs like Countdown, ones that weren’t having any of the BS from the administration. Olbermann brandished the sheaf of talking points, like a sword. With Joe’s opposition to the war, and most of all the fact he’d been to Niger and vigorously debunked the fraudulent yellowcake claim, Joe had stepped across a tripwire that loosed Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby like a pack of dogs, with Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer chasing close behind. None of their talking points refuted Joe’s claims. John Dean gave the book a great review in the New York Times Book Review and it became a national hardcover bestseller in the Times and Publishers Weekly for about six weeks. This was Dean’s opening paragraph:

“THIS is a riveting and all-engaging book. Not only does it provide context to yesterday’s headlines, and perhaps tomorrow’s, about the Iraq war and about our politics of personal destruction, but former Ambassador Joseph Wilson also tells captivating stories from his life as a foreign service officer with a long career fostering the development of African democracies, and gives us a behind-the-scenes blow-by-blow of the run-up to the 1991 Persian Gulf war. As the top American diplomat in Baghdad, Wilson was responsible for the embassy, its staff and the lives of other Americans in the region – not to mention the freeing of hostages in Kuwait. He goes on to relate his eye-to-eye encounter with the wily sociopath Saddam Hussein; his return home to be greeted as a ‘true American hero’ by President George H. W. Bush; his stint advising America’s top military commander in Europe; and his time as head of the African affairs desk of Bill Clinton’s National Security Council, where he assembled the president’s historic trip to Africa while the ”Starr inquisition” into the Monica Lewinsky affair developed. Along the way he fell in love with and married a C.I.A. covert operative – a ”’willowy blonde, resembling a young Grace Kelly.”’

I should add the book was also a plea for Americans to be actively engaged in their citizenship, and to be unafraid if it became necessary to call one’s government to account. In 2010 The Politics of  Truth and Valerie’s 2008 book Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent was Betrayed by Her Own Government, were jointly adapted for the feature film, “Fair Game,” with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. I saw Joe and Valerie in NYC for a premiere reception and we have remained friends, more so than other authors I’ve published over the years. I just heard from Joe today. He and Valerie sat for interviews with the MSNBC producers and they will also be watching “Hubris” tonight. I hope you will be, too. Please feel free to leave comments here about the program, this post, and this period in our recent history. Joe and Valerie played a significant role in these events, bringing the Bush administration before the judgment of history for its deceptions. I am proud of the role I had in bringing their story before the public. To read about other aspects of this case, especially the federal trial of Scooter Libby for his obstruction of justice, and the book I brought out in 2008, The United States v. I. Lewis Libby, along with Patrick Fitzgerald’s legacy as a federal prosecutor, please see this post.

Dan Froomkin on Patrick Fitzgerald’s Legacy as a Federal Prosecutor

Dan Froomkin, Senior Washington DC Correspondent for Huffington Post, has long been one of my favorite news aggregators and commentators. I first got to know his work in the early 2000s, when he wrote and edited the must-read, “White House Watch” at WHW was a daily news digest entirely made up of news about the Bush White House, with Dan’s pithy commentaries about the stories he selected for his readers. I used to wait avidly each day until mid-morning when each new column would appear online. If I had a lunch date I had run to, I would print out the pages and take them with me on the subway.

This is Dan’s awesome archive of all the WHW columns he did–plus all the live chats he did–before his employment at the Post was ended in January 2009, one of the worst decisions, among many bad calls, that that newspaper made in the 2000s.

I got to know Dan personally shortly after I began working with Ambassador Joseph Wilson on the manuscript that would become his 2004 book The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity.* Dan and I haven’t been in touch the past few years, but I continue to enjoy reading him.

Yesterday Dan published a provocative column in which he laments the fact that federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald only charged VP Cheney’s Chief of Staff Scooter Libby for obstruction of justice in the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s CIA identity, ultimately choosing to not put Karl Rove and/or Dick Cheney on trial. Froomkin reminds readers that

“Fitzgerald was appointed as a special prosecutor in late 2003 to investigate the July 2003 leak of Plame’s identity, which came during a White House effort to discredit her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson [who] was trying to expose how the administration had twisted intelligence to make its case for the war in Iraq, launched a few months earlier, and the White House was desperate to prevent that narrative from establishing itself before the 2004 elections. The evidence that came out at trial clearly established that Cheney was the first person to tell Libby about Plame’s identity and that Cheney wrote talking points that likely prompted Libby and others to raise Plame’s role with reporters.”

As is often the case with prosecutors, his decision may have come down to a calculation of what he could prove at trial, and what a jury would accept, beyond a reasonable doubt:

“In a subsequent court filing, Fitzgerald wrote that ‘there was reason to believe’ the leak had been coordinated by Cheney and that the vice president may have had a role in the cover-up. ‘When the investigation began, Mr. Libby kept the vice president apprised of his shifting accounts of how he claimed to have learned about Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment,’ Fitzgerald wrote. But Cheney was never charged. ‘I think the chances of it being a show trial and losing really weighed heavily on him, in terms of the political fallout,’ said Michael Genovese, director of Loyola Marymount University’s Institute for Leadership Studies.

Froomkin goes on to point out,

“For reasons he has never publicly explained, Fitzgerald ultimately chose not to indict Rove either for the leak or for obstruction of justice. While much could have been gleaned from key investigative documents requested by a congressional committee, the Bush White House wouldn’t let Fitzgerald release them.

Dan gives the last word in his column to one of the reporters who was most dogged about this case, Marcy Wheeler, whose commentary and reporting was then at firedoglake and can nowadays be found at Empty Wheel.

“Wheeler. . . one of the foremost chroniclers of the Libby trial, said Fitzgerald’s investigation didn’t go far enough. ‘The FBI agents believed that they had the case against Rove nailed down,’ Wheeler said. And Fitzgerald ‘actually had Dick Cheney in his teeth.’”

When Fitzgerald recently announced that he’s retiring from the corps of federal prosecutors, I expected to see postmortems of his career, though Froomkin’s is the first I’ve read. It seems that the last decade is already dim and distant in Americans’ memory, and in the minds of members of the media, even though so much of what happened in the terrible Bush years still hangs over us like a black cloud. What I’d really love to read, or even better edit, would be a manuscript by Fitzgerald, though I fear that’s unlikely from this career government lawyer, generally known for his circumspect nature. Still, he did let it all–or nearly all–hang out in one public statement about Cheney’s role in the Plame matter. Quoted here by Froomkin,

“In his closing arguments in the Libby case, Fitzgerald famously declared: ‘There is a cloud over what the vice president did that week. … That cloud remains because the defendant has obstructed justice and lied about what happened.’”

*Along with Wilson’s book, which became in part the basis for the movie, “Fair Game,” I also brought out the book The United States v. I. Lewis Libby, edited and with reporting by Murray Waas, the only published transcript of Scooter Libby’s trial. I recommend it along with Wilson’s book, and former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan’s What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.

Iran and Iraq–Deja Vu All Over Again?

I find that Daily Beast/Newsweek columnist Peter Beinart is writing some of the most incisive commentary on the Middle East these days. His views on Israel, coming from a committed American Jew who is able to see flaws in the current Israeli government policies and rhetoric, is a welcome tonic for this committed American Jew. One column of his last week was especially apt, Experts Say Iran Attack is Irrational, Yet Hawks are Winning Debate. There is a disturbing deja vu in the campaign to attack Iran being mounted by some elected officials and coming from some quarters of the American opinion establishment–whether the attack would be done by Israel or the U.S.  Beinart, author of a forthcoming book called The Crisis of Zionism, is determined to slow the momentum toward war. I was especially appreciative of the penultimate paragraph in last Tuesday’s column:

“And who are the hawks who have so far marginalized the defense and intelligence establishments in both Israel and the U.S.? They’re a collection of think-tankers and politicians, most absolutely sincere, in my experience. But from Rick Santorum to John McCain to Elliott Abrams to John Bolton, their defining characteristic is that they were equally apocalyptic about the threat from Iraq, and equally nonchalant about the difficulties of successfully attacking it.The story of the Iraq debate was, in large measure, the story of their triumph over the career military and intelligence officials—folks like Eric Shinseki and Joseph Wilson—whose successors are now warning against attacking Iran.”

To recap, General Eric Shinseki was punished and sidelined by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld after he had the temerity to testify to Congress that stablizing Iraq after Saddam’s fall would take “several hundred thousand soldiers.” And in the case of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, it should be remembered that before his wife’s CIA identity was revealed by multiple members of the Bush Administration, he had published numerous op-eds and given many interviews urging that the U.S. not invade Iraq. His background and experience–which included his key role as the last U.S. diplomat in Baghdad during Operation Desert Shield, before the beginning of the first Gulf War–informed his opposition to the 2003 invasion, not a reluctance to be tough with Saddam. Both Shinseki and Wilson, and it must be said, Valerie Plame, were caught up in the Bush Administration’s mania for war with Iraq, and the whole country, indeed the whole world, has been paying the price ever since. I see that the two situations–the Iraq situation and the one with Iran–are dissimilar in important ways, but I still believe we must ask what costs may an attack on Iran exact from the U.S. and the rest of the world? I’m glad that a well-informed Peter Beinart is asking this question.

**Full disclosure: I edited and published The Politics of Truth–A Diplomat’s Memoir: Inside the War that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity by Ambassador Joseph Wilson (Carroll & Graf, 2004)