I cannot give enough praise to Joseph Wilson, former U.S. senior diplomat in Baghdad during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (“Former ambassador moved to Santa Fe amid clash with Bush administration,” Sept. 28). This man literally got me and others out of Iraq in 1990.
Twenty-nine years ago, I was flown with other American women and children out of occupied Kuwait to Baghdad to get an exit visa to return to the U.S. The Iraqis claimed Kuwait was now the 19th province of Iraq and we would need to fly to Baghdad to obtain an Iraqi stamp in our passport. But when the Iraqi officials saw our Kuwaiti surnames in our American passports, they began to line women and children up against a wall, declaring they were not U.S. citizens but Iraqi citizens and would be prohibited from leaving Iraq.
Joe Wilson, the most senior diplomat in Baghdad, was just on the other side of a barrier from us in the Baghdad airport to verify we would receive our exit visas. When he witnessed this violation of the agreed terms of our release, he got on the phone to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and began screaming repeatedly, “You said you would allow these women and children to leave!” He would not back down. He would not give up. He continued to scream into the receiver until the Iraqis relented and stamped our passports.
If Joe Wilson had not stood up to the Iraqis, God only knows what would have happened to us. We likely would have been incarcerated, abused, raped and used as human shields. I owe so much to this man. He is a true American hero. God bless Joe Wilson.
Beth A. Hanken is a former U.S. detainee in occupied Kuwait 1990. She lives in Monticello, Iowa.