Former Powell Aide's Declaration : Bush and Cheney Sent Innocents to Guantanamo

Update: I've uploaded the Complaint here.

The Times of London has obtained a sworn declaration of Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell when Powell was Secretary of State for the Bush Administration, stating that Bush and Cheney knowingly sent innocent detainees to Guantanamo, for political reasons. He says they knew the majority of the detainees were innocent, but they sent them anyway as a means of garnering support for the war in Iraq and war on terror.

The declaration was submitted to the court in a lawsuit filed yesterday by former Sudanese detainee Adel Hassan Hamad, who alleges he was tortured. Hamad is seeking monetary damages from the U.S. and filed his lawsuit in federal district court in Seattle, because Robert Gates, one of the defendants, resides there. It is the first time a former official in the Bush Administration has made such a claim claim.

The Times reports Colin Powell backs Wilkerson's declaration. [More...]

Referring to Mr Cheney, Colonel Wilkerson, who served 31 years in the US Army, asserted: “He had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent ... If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.”

He alleged that for Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld “innocent people languishing in Guantánamo for years was justified by the broader War on Terror and the small number of terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 attacks”.

Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld, Colonel Wilkerson said, deemed the incarceration of innocent men acceptable if some genuine militants were captured, leading to a better intelligence picture of Iraq at a time when the Bush Administration was desperate to find a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, “thus justifying the Administration’s plans for war with that country”.

Wilkerson says Powell told him Bush also knew and approved:

He added: “I discussed the issue of the Guantánamo detainees with Secretary Powell. I learnt that it was his view that it was not just Vice-President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld, but also President Bush who was involved in all of the Guantánamo decision making.”

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    Well, no suprise there (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by ruffian on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 12:49:48 PM EST
    But here is another chance for Obama to open up some distance between himself and the previos administration. I like to think he'd disagree.

    Please don't make everything (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 12:52:06 PM EST
    about Obama. This is about actions of Bush and Cheney. There will be time to discuss Obama when lawyers in his Administration respond to the lawsuit.

    Ok, when the 'right' time comes, (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 03:01:30 PM EST
    will it be too much to ask for the Commander in Chief to actually have a perspective on this - above and beyond what his lawyers have to say?

    And I still don't see how Obama's ongoing failure to support investigations into Bush/Cheney misconduct is NOT about Obama.


    OK. I'll wait for their response. (none / 0) (#18)
    by ruffian on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:50:26 PM EST
    Congress can take action, too (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Cream City on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:06:06 PM EST
    as it has had to formally apologize on behalf of us all in this country before -- to Native Americans, to Japanese Americans.

    Of course, it would be nice to see Congress act more expeditiously than in those cases, when the apologies had to be extended to descendants of those slaughtered at Wounded Knee and those incarcerated in our own concentration camps.

    And in the latter case, Congress also -- finally -- accorded reparations.  Those are due again to the innocents at Guantanamo.


    Why didn't he speak up when it was happening? (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by Angel on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 12:54:40 PM EST
    Or as soon as he found out?  These frickin' cowards make me sick.  We all knew what was going on but those who could confirm it kept their mounths shut.  

    You Have Not Been Following Along (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by squeaky on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:06:46 PM EST
    Wilkerson was a constant critic of BushCo.

    Do your homework before calling someone a coward.


    Squeaky, he didn't come out when it needed to (3.50 / 2) (#25)
    by Angel on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 04:43:31 PM EST
    come out.  Neither did all of the others I was referencing when I said "cowards."  Cowards - plural.  That includes Colin Powell and everyone else who knew but turned a blind eye.  Why do you always have to pick apart every statement and try to win every argument?  I guess you think he gets a pass, huh?  He was a part of the administration that did this stuff - he doesn't get a pass, not now, not then, not ever.  

    We Disagree (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by squeaky on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 04:47:56 PM EST
    You do not get a pass either...

    Like I said ..... trying to win every argument. (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Angel on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 05:02:43 PM EST
    Why can't you admit that mt first comment has some merit?  What I said was that he didn't speak up soon enough - didn't say he never spoke up.  Big difference.  Also big difference in what one says, how forcefully it is said, and the context of those words.

    I'm off for the evening, it's 5 o'clock, time for an adult beverage.


    Simple (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by squeaky on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 05:20:53 PM EST
    Wilkerson is not a coward in my book.

    Good -- but when is crucial. (none / 0) (#17)
    by Cream City on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:38:33 PM EST
    In 2003, he played a crucial role, per your link:

    Wilkerson was responsible for a review of information from the Central Intelligence Agency that was used to prepare Powell for his February 2003 presentation to the United Nations Security Council. His failure to realize that the evidence was faulty has been attributed on the limited time (only one week) that he had to review the data. The subsequent developments led Wilkerson to become disillusioned.

    At that time, I already had read coverage in major media in this country of British skepticism and downright discounting of the evidence used.  I've always wondered how hard it could have been to find those accounts, even in a week's time.

    And the earliest I find at this link and below of Wilkerson speaking out against treatment of inmates at Guantanamo was years later, and only after he was safely in retirement.  Is there evidence that he spoke out publicly sooner?


    Complicated Story (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by squeaky on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 03:41:02 PM EST
    I was following it all here and at emptywheel. Wilkerson was one of the few good guys, yet he was routinely sabotaged. At that point there was a war between the state department and the WH.

    In advocating war with Iraq, Libby was known for dismissing those within the bureaucracy who opposed him, whether at the CIA, State Department, or other agencies. Supporters say that even if Libby is charged by the grand jury in the CIA leak case, he waged less a personal campaign against Wilson and Plame than one that reflected a personal antipathy toward critics in general.

    Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Powell as Secretary of State, charged in a recent speech that there was a "cabal between Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense [Donald L.] Rumsfeld on critical decisions that the bureaucracy did not know was being made."

    In interagency meetings in preparation for Powell's U.N. address, Wilkerson, Powell, and senior CIA officials argued that evidence Libby wanted to include as part of Powell's presentation was exaggerated or unreliable. Cheney, too, became involved in those discussions, sources said, when he believed that Powell and others were not taking Libby's suggestions seriously.

    Wilkerson has said that he ordered "whole reams of paper" of intelligence information excluded from Libby's draft of Powell's speech. Another official recalled that Libby was pushing so hard to include certain intelligence information in the speech that Libby lobbied Powell for last minute changes in a phone call to Powell's suite at the Waldorf Astoria hotel the night before the speech. Libby's suggestions were dismissed by Powell and his staff.

    Murray Waas


    It always is so hard to know (none / 0) (#27)
    by Cream City on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 04:45:44 PM EST
    how long to keep trying to effect change from within vs. when to realize that some problems are not just as endemic but system -- and to retire and keep trying to effect change but without internal constraints.  We will have to hear more from him, and I bet that we will.

    BushCo Critics (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by squeaky on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 05:12:53 PM EST
    Did not last long inside his administration, Goldsmith resigned August 2004, Wilkerson resigned January 2005:  

    Remember this:

    In fact, the ones at Justice who didn't last are the officials (like Goldsmith) who dared to say "no" to the President-which, by the way, is OLC's core job description.....

    One relatively rare attempt to tell the President "no" led to the outrageous (though still too-little-known and condemned) trip by Bush's counsel Alberto Gonzales and chief of staff Andrew Card to Attorney General John Ashcroft's hospital bedside in intensive care, in a failed attempt to get him to overrule Acting Attorney General James Comey's and Jack Goldsmith's determination the President did have to comply with the law.  (Remember this Youtube Comey-testimony/Godfather classic?)  After being forced to make a change in the face of the threatened resignation of much of the Justice Department leadership, what did President Bush do?  He nominated Gonzales to be his next Attorney General, to replace Ashcroft!

    Dawn Johnsen

    and Goldsmith is a conservative...


    Powell is BS (none / 0) (#4)
    by Buckeye on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:00:11 PM EST
    He has involved in that administration as much as anyone.  I cannot for the life of me understand why he escapes so much criticism.

    I'm reading through the complaint (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:03:54 PM EST
    filed by the Williamette Law Clinic and will post it soon.

    Oy (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by squeaky on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:08:55 PM EST
    Not surprised. GOod for Wilkerson, he was critical of the whole BushCo approach, and even called for impeachment:

    ".... You compare Bill Clinton's peccadilloes for which he was impeached to George Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors or Dick Cheney's high crimes and misdemeanors, and I think they pale in significance." "Powell's Chief of Staff Proposes Impeachment". afterdowningstreet.org. 10 May 2007. "War Accountability in the US". onpointradio.org. 10 May 2007.


    Powell & Co. Personify This MLK Quote: (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:13:30 PM EST
    "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people."

    Powell is an embarrasment IMO (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Saul on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:21:47 PM EST
    He knew in his heart that what he was saying at the UN was not true.  He even was reluctant to go ahead with the speech but he caved into Bush and Cheney wishes to show the Iraq needed to be invaded.  He did not have the courage to follow his gut instincts that there was very serious doubt that what he was saying at his UN speech was terribly wrong.  

    I have no respect for him.  Think about it.  Had he spoken his heart just this incident could have made congress to rethink the go ahead with Iraq on the war resolution.  Look at all the lives that could have been saved.

    See the PBS documentary of Front Line called The Dark Side which supports what I said.

    Powell (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:29:11 PM EST
    personifies a danger with putting career military types into non-military positions- if your adult entire life has been spent in a strictly heiarchial organization will you speak out against you view as wrong?

    View the Dark Side (none / 0) (#15)
    by Saul on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:33:01 PM EST
    He blatantly does not want to give the speech but caves in  since he does not have the guts to go against Cheney and Bush.

    He was not a robot at that moment.  He had serious doubts just no courage.


    Yes (none / 0) (#20)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:56:30 PM EST
    but caving to authority was ingrained into him by being a career military man- there's no way he rises to General, much less a 4-star by bucking the brass.

    "Bucking the Brass" sure (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by KeysDan on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 02:29:36 PM EST
    does not fit Colin Powell.  He has a demonstrable record of fealty and loyalty to powerful superiors. As "investigator" of what became known as the My Lai massacre, Powell refuted early allegations by servicemen and reported, in contradistinction, that the relationships between soldiers and the Vietnamese people were excellent. Some called this a whitewash.  Later, as Senior Military Assistant to Caspar Weinberger, he heard nor saw no evil in the Iran-Contra scandal, including that Weinberger never took notes. The special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, was seriously critical of Powell's testimony, but he had a bigger fish to fry, and did so.  Of course, Powell was, at best, borderline insubordinate to President Clinton, in the affair DADT.  And, his longtime aide-de-camp Colonel Wilkerson  claimed that Powell lied in his UN speech. I do not know if Powell has had any supportive comments of Colonel Wilkerson since he has become a fierce critic of the Bush administration.

    Powell didn't hesitate to buck the brass (5.00 / 4) (#29)
    by Spamlet on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 04:54:06 PM EST
    when the brass was his very own commander in chief, President Bill Clinton. Powell openly undermined and spoke out against his commander in chief's efforts to end discrimination against gay people in the military. That was a scandal, and it should have been reported as one.

    I fully agree, (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by KeysDan on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 05:52:33 PM EST
    Colin Powell was insubordinate and should have paid the price.  However, I still believe he did not buck who he felt were his powerful superiors-- for him, that just did not include President Clinton.  Who he then though was his superior at that point is an interesting consideration, but part of it, in my view,  would include the JCS, and their disdain for Clinton and their loyalty to  GHW Bush, who they felt richly deserved another term and they could not believe Clinton defeated

    My comment underscored your point (5.00 / 4) (#35)
    by Spamlet on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 07:56:59 PM EST
    that Powell could and would buck the brass when he felt like it. He was not incapable of doing so, by temperament or by training, as the commenter to whom we both replied seemed to be suggesting. For me, Colin Powell disgraced himself, and his uniform, many years before his dishonest performance at the UN. And not because he had been "trained" to do so.

    Oh, and one more thing, since (none / 0) (#36)
    by Spamlet on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 08:34:38 PM EST
    it's been more than twenty years, but I'm still PO'd about this sh!t: Not only did George H. W. Bush not deserve a second term, he didn't even deserve a first term. He was elected to Ronald Reagan's third term, which Reagan himself would not have deserved, had he been eligible to run.

    Not to mention (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 11:26:03 PM EST
    he was the first "Atwater candidate," for which he will pay in the next life if there's any justice at all.

    The saintly George H. W. Bush dragged presidential electoral politics into the gutter in a way it hadn't been for about 100 years.


    Yep. Good 'ol Lee Atwater. It was he who (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Angel on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 09:34:42 AM EST
    put us on this slope towards hatred and all things mean in politics.  And George H.W. Bush loved the guy and all he stood for.  Dubya would have used Atwater too if he had lived.  We got Karl Rove instead.  A cheap imitation but totally disgusting in his own way.  I would like for Atwater and Rove to share a room in their afterlife.

    Not entirely true (none / 0) (#37)
    by cawaltz on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 09:14:02 PM EST
    Believe it or not with the military, it's about choosing your battles and be able to make a strong and persuasive argument when you do choose to battle. Yes men can actually be more of a hazard then someone who has the ability to think critically and alot of the higher ups actually can appreciate constructive criticism from time to time. It's really about picking and choosing when to be a team player and when to go on the offensive. Or it was when I was middle management anyways.

    It's like a (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by lilburro on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:50:39 PM EST
    J. M. Coetzee novel.

    Wilkerson's column from last year on this very issue:  Washington Note.

    Good for Wilkerson for putting it on record though.

    Now can we impeach Bush? (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by desertswine on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 02:20:46 PM EST

    Ha. Needed that funny comment on this (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Angel on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 04:45:25 PM EST
    particulary had Friday afternoon.  Thanks.

    Next stop...The Hague... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by oldpro on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 05:42:55 PM EST

    Never gonna happen, but it should (n/t) (none / 0) (#41)
    by Spamlet on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 12:55:22 AM EST
    I hope he's got (none / 0) (#9)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:10:01 PM EST
    some kind of evidence to back that up, at least some direct conversations he can report.  From what's in the Times article, unfortunately, it sounds like he's giving his interpretation of motives, not reporting much in the way of explicit statements by Rumsfeld, Cheney et al.

    I don't doubt for one second they are perfectly capable of doing such things, but Wilkerson mostly comes off sounding like a PO'd op-ed columnist at least in those excerpts, not somebody testifying from specific knowledge.

    And as Angel said above, if Wilkerson and Powell even just had suspicions that was the case, then d**n them to h*ll for all eternity for going along with it instead of blowing the whistle when it might have made a difference.  The fact that they're now flinging the accusations after the fact doesn't earn them one pico-millimeter of admiration or for their complicity at the time.  IMHO, of course. <sound of teeth grinding>

    The complaint (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:12:09 PM EST
    is here.

    I'm actually shocked. (none / 0) (#11)
    by observed on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:12:58 PM EST
    This should be big news.

    this guy (none / 0) (#16)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 01:38:03 PM EST
    Lawrence Wilkerson is making all kinds of trouble.