Sunday, November 13, 2005
President Cheney Keeps War Memo from Moron. American Troops Die. And Worse.
Ex-Powell Aide Suggests Pre-War Memo Was Kept From Bush
A former top official in the Bush administration is suggesting that a White House memo outlining the need for hundreds of thousands of troops for the Iraq invasion was kept from the president. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to then-secretary of state Colin Powell during President Bush's first term, said in a November 7 speech that the National Security Council had prepared a pre-war memo recommending that hundreds of thousands of troops and other security personnel were needed. “I don't know if the president saw it,” Wilkerson told the audience...
...he believed that then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice or her deputy, Stephen Hadley, had blocked the memo...
...about 135,000 U.S. troops were sent - a decision that critics said has hurt America's ability to defeat the insurgency in Iraq and has led to increased American casualties.
In July 2003, USA Today reported the existence of the NSC memo, which examined the level of troops in peacekeeping operations and concluded that some 500,000 troops would need to be deployed to Iraq. USA Today raised doubts as to whether the president saw the memo. However, Wilkerson's assertion seemed to take the matter a step further, suggesting that aides who supported the war intentionally kept the president in the dark.
Wilkerson drew national attention last month, when, during a speech at the Washington-based New America Foundation, he accused Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of forming a “cabal” to hijack American foreign policy.
“The reason I suspect it got stopped is simply that they knew [Cheney] and [Rumsfeld] dissented strongly and did not want to reopen that box of worms.”
In his speech this week at West Point, Wilkerson said that officials in the Pentagon and in Cheney's office “really pushed the envelope” on permitting harsh interrogations and treatment of prisoners. Wilkerson recounted how military lawyers who opposed a series of guidelines allowing harsh interrogation techniques were silenced, and how he found out instances of two detainees who died in American facilities in Afghanistan as early as December 2002.
Wilkerson told the audience that while he disagreed with many of the administration's foreign policy moves, what most “got [his] attention” and made him “very anxious” was the treatment of detainees advocated by other officials. Just before the infamous pictures from Abu Ghraib were made public, Wilkerson recounted, he was ordered by Powell to assemble a comprehensive paper trail because “this would be big.” Wilkerson said that when the president outlined in a memorandum that prisoners should be treated humanely in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva conventions and in conformity with U.S. values, he and others in government and the military took it to mean that U.S. troops were told to treat detainees in a decent manner. “But this is not what I saw in the paper trail with regards to the office of the vice president and the Pentagon,” Wilkerson said, adding that he had returned the documents to the State Department upon his retirement earlier this year. “They really pushed the envelope.” Turning to Iraq, he blamed Bush, for whom he voted twice, for failing to assert himself in the intra-cabinet feuding over the preparations for the war. “We went in with a plan that was so inept that it was impossible for me to believe [the president] had been briefed about it and approved it,” he said, expressing his conviction that the decisions were made by the top officials at the Pentagon and by Cheney, whom he described as “the most powerful vice president” in history. “If you want to change my opinion, Mr. President, please come out and say you took the decision yourself,” Wilkerson said. Wilkerson praised his former boss at the State Department, but acknowledged that his recent criticisms had estranged him from Powell, who is known for preferring to work behind the scenes. In the spring of 2004, Wilkerson said, he was writing resignation letters “twice a week” but, out of loyalty to Powell, decided to stayed on. “Some nights, I wish I had [resigned],” he added. Of Powell, Wilkerson said, “The way they treated him in the end was humiliating, I think he wanted to leave.”