Wilkerson on Guantanamo

by JimLarkinsGhost on March 18, 2009

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Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, has written what he calls “Some Truths about Guantanamo Bay.”  Parts of the piece maybe somewhat self-serving, as he gives credit to Powell and Richard Armitage for trying to curb some of the abuses (and there is some indication, of course, that Powell and Armitage were at times among the more sensible voices inside the administration).  But it is worth a read.  And Wilkerson was in a position to know many of the details of the most sordid dealings of the Bush administration.  Excerpts:

Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.

This was a factor of having too few troops in the combat zone, of the troops and civilians who were there having too few people trained and skilled in such vetting, and of the incredible pressure coming down from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others to “just get the bastards to the interrogators”.

[Another point] largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released. I am very sorry to say that I believe there were uniformed military who aided and abetted these falsehoods, even at the highest levels of our armed forces.

Wilkerson has more to say, too.

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