Ex-Powell Aide Criticizes Bush on Iraq

WASHINGTON (2 hours ago) — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff says President Bush was “too aloof, too distant from the details” of post-war planning, allowing underlings to exploit Bush’s detachment and make bad decisions.

In an Associated Press interview Monday, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said that wrongheaded ideas for the handling of foreign detainees after Sept. 11 arose from a coterie of White House and Pentagon aides who argued that “the president of the United States is all-powerful”, and that the Geneva Conventions were irrelevant.

Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. Wilkerson said that Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because “otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard.”  

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Wilkerson suggested his former boss may agree with him that Bush was too hands-off about Iraq. “What he seems to be saying to me now is the president failed to discipline the process the way he should have and that the president is ultimately responsible for this whole mess,” Wilkerson said.

He said Powell now generally believes it was a good idea to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but may not agree with either the timing or execution of the war. Wilkerson said Powell may have had doubts about the extent of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein but was convinced by then- CIA Director George Tenet and others that the intelligence girding the push toward war was sound.

Powell was widely regarded as a dove to Cheney and Rumsfeld’s hawks, but he made a forceful case for war before the U.N. Security Council in February 2003, a month before the invasion. At one point, he said Saddam possessed mobile labs to make weapons of mass destruction that were never found.

Wilkerson criticized the CIA and other agencies for allowing mishandled and bogus information to underpin that speech and the whole administration case for war.

He said he has almost, but not quite, concluded that Cheney and others in the administration deliberately ignored evidence of bad intelligence and looked only at what supported their case for war.

A newly declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002 said that an al-Qaida military instructor was probably misleading his interrogators about training that the terror group’s members received from Iraq on chemical, biological and radiological weapons. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi reportedly recanted his statements in January 2004.

A presidential intelligence commission also dissected how spy agencies handled an Iraqi refugee who was a German intelligence source. Codenamed Curveball, this man who was a leading source on Iraq’s purported mobile biological weapons labs was found to be a fabricator and alcoholic.

Full AP Article »»

Update [2005-11-29 07:00AM PDT by Oui]:

Beyond Wilkerson’s Remark on Cheney as a War Criminal
The Nation – David Corn

Larry Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Colin Powell at the State department, is in the news again. He first made headlines several weeks ago by accusing Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld of running a “cabal” that seized control of national security decision-making in the Bush administration prior to the Iraq war. This Tuesday, he’s in the news for blasting Cheney for pushing for an anything-goes policy when it comes to detainees held by US forces. Asked during a BBC interview if he believes Cheney is guilty of war crimes for shoving aside the Geneva accords and pushing for harsh treatment (perhaps torture) of detainees, Wilkerson replied,

    Well, that’s an interesting question. It was certainly a domestic crime to advocate terror and I would suspect that it is–for whatever it’s worth–an international crime as well.

That’s some statement from a former Bush administration official. As might be expected, news outfits, bloggers and websites are having a field day with this. But you should read the entire interview, for Wilkerson makes several points that are less melodramatic but as, if not more, important.

For instance, he attacks the White House for its recklessly negligent handling of the post-invasion planning for Iraq. This was a criminal–at least in policy terms–act for which Bush and his crowd have escaped accountability. (See what happens when Congress is controlled by the party of the president?)

How Bush botched the post-invasion period should have been a bigger issue in the 2004 elections. It wasn’t. But it’s still not too late to complain and point an accusing finger. Wilkerson told the BBC,

    The post-invasion planning for Iraq was handled, in my opinion, in this alternative decision-making process which, in this case, constituted the vice-president and the secretary of defence and certain people in the defence department who did the “post invasion planning”, which was as inept and incompetent as perhaps any planning anyone has ever done.

    It consisted of largely sending Jay Garner and his organisation to sit in Kuwait until the military forces had moved into Baghdad …

Update [2005-11-29 12:20PM PDT by Oui]:


Hariri Killing – Chief Witness Retracts Accusation

Where are the screaming headlines in the U.S. Media ::
U.N. Report based on false witness account


«« click on pic for BBC story »»

Syrian witness Hassam Taher Hassam
speaks during a press conference with
Ibrahim Draji, spokesman of...
 AFP Photo

Folks should appreciate Soj’s analysis of UN Detlev Mehlis Report.

Cross-posted as diary @EuroTrib ::
Hariri Killing – Chief Witness in Lebanon Retracts Accusation

See also my earlier diary –
Hariri Assassination By Suicide Truck Bomb ¶ Mitsubishi Stolen in Japan

“Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

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