Controversial Bush Critic Endorses Kerry

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson (search), who accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq, endorsed Democrat John Kerry (searchfor president on Thursday.

In a conference call with New Hampshire reporters, Wilson said he and Kerry, the Massachusetts senator, have shared the experience of challenging their government -- Wilson when he questioned the "rush to war" with Iraq, Kerry when he challenged America's role in Vietnam.

Speaking from Washington, Wilson said Kerry's actions, coming when he was but 23-year-old Vietnam War veteran, makes him stand out in the Democratic presidential field.

"John Kerry did the same thing after he came out of Vietnam, I did it at the age of 53 ... with a long and distinguished career behind me," Wilson said. "John Kerry did it at the very beginning of his career.

"I know how these sorts of things test one's mettle," he said. "To have stood up and said what he did, at the time that he did, in my judgment, sets him apart from the other candidates."

Wilson and the Bush administration have been at odds since he accused the White House of manipulating intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Afterward, the Justice Department began a criminal investigation to determine who in the administration leaked the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame (search), an undercover CIA operations officer.

Plame's identity was revealed in a July 14 column by syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who said he got the information from two senior administration officials.