Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ex-Powell Aide Wilkerson Rips Bush & Company on Iraq

CLICK TO READ: Ex-Powell Aide Criticizes Bush on Iraq - New York Times

The intimidation tactics of the Bush administration seem not to have affected Colin Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson one iota. He spoke out once again in an AP interview Monday and he wasn't mincing words.

Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of post-war planning, according to Wilkerson, "allowing underlings to exploit Bush's detachment and make bad decisions." He further 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."

Blaming Cheney, 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.'"

Wilkerson further critized the CIA and other agencies for allowing bogus information to become the underpinning of the administration's 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."

As for the question of detainees captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Wilkerson said Bush heard from his administration "two sides of an impassioned argument.

Cheney's office, Rumsfeld aides and others argued 'that the president of the United States is all-powerful, that as commander in chief the president of the United States can do anything he damn well pleases,' Wilkerson said." This is certainly consistent with what we know about Cheney and Rumsfeld's career-long pursuits of untethered power.

The opposing view came from "Powell, others at the State Department and top military brass, and occasionally then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Wilkerson said.

Powell raised frequent and loud objections, his former aide said, once yelling into a telephone at Rumsfeld: 'Donald, don't you understand what you are doing to our image?'"

Wilkerson also denied that he never disclosed to Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA, adding his name to a "growing list of past and current Bush administration officials who have denied being the Washington Post reporter's source."

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