Maggie O’Kane, Executive Producer, tells the story revealed by the Guardian documentary about the role of Col. James Steele in supporting torture, death squads and brutal sectarian conflict during the height of the Iraq war. Steel’s reports went directly to Rumsfeld and Cheney.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was at the very least informed in May 2003 by the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, that the Iraqi army would be disbanded, a decision that was instrumental in helping to spur the Iraqi insurgency, and one that former Bush administration officials to this day have refused to take responsibility for.
Those of us who have been studying the recent career of Col. Lawrence Wilkerson were not surprised when, last week, he submitted a declaration (PDF) in a lawsuit seeking compensation from the US government that was filed by former Guantánamo prisoner Adel Hassan Hamad. A Sudanese hospital worker, Hamad was sold to US forces by their unscrupulous Pakistani allies in the summer of 2002, but was only released from Guantánamo in December 2007.
In the declaration, Col. Wilkerson, who served in the US military for 31 years and was Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from August 2002 until January 2005, stated that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld all knew — and didn’t care — that “the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent.”
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson served in the US military for 31 years and was Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from August 2002 until January 2005, two months after Powell’s resignation, when he left the State Department. He is now the chairman of the New America Foundation’s US-Cuba 21st Century Policy Initiative. In March, in a guest column for the Washington Note, he wrote an article criticizing some crucial aspects of the Bush administration’s detention policies in the “War on Terror,” which, as I noted at the time, “are not as widely known as they should be, and which echo some of the important issues that I’ve tried to raise in my book The Guantánamo Files and my subsequent writing.”
This was not a happy week for the torture lobby, nor its defenders, derailing months of charm offensive by Bush-Cheney legacy boosters. A wary President Obama backed off attempts to defuse the torture parade – fretting over divisive investigations and hard-to-win court convictions. Public indignation likely surpassed February polling when 65% favored torture investigations, 40% criminal prosecutions.
Two releases, from the White House and Senate, disclose a premeditated Bush-Cheney torture program that postdated the original transgression, namely invading Iraq under false pretenses. This sequence dramatically reverses classic scandals, whether the Scooter Libby/CIA outing, Watergate, Iran-Contra or Clinton escapades. Earlier, the charade of cover-ups followed crimes, thus the countless perjury convictions. With Bush-Cheney interrogation, unholy torture was authorized to serve the unholy smokescreen clouding an unholy invasion.