Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, tells BBC interviewer Carolyn Quinn in the R4Todayprogram that accountability for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners must be given to Cheney and that it may be tantamount to an international crime. Wilkerson's account and language have been increasingly critical of Bush/Cheney as information unfolds in the public sphere about the run up to war. He uses his harshest language to date in asserting that Cheney is guilty certainly of domestic crime and that it may well transcend to international crime.
If what you say is correct, in your view, is Dick Cheney then guilty of a war crime?
Well, that's an interesting question - it was certainly a domestic crime to advocate terror and I would suspect that it is - for whatever it's worth - an international crime as well.
And that question of detainee abuse - are you saying that the implicit message allowing it to happen was sanctioned by Dick Cheney - it came from his office?
Well you see two sides of this debate in the statutory process. You see the side represented by Colin Powell, Will Taft, all arguing for Geneva.
You see the other side represented by Yoo, John Yoo from the Department of Justice, Alberto Gonzales - you see the other side being argued by them and you see the president compromising.
Then you see the secretary of defence moving out in his own memorandum to act as if the side that declared everything open, free and anything goes, actually being what's implemented.
And so what I'm saying is, under the vice-president's protection, the secretary of defence moved out to do what they wanted to do in the first place even though the president had made a decision that was clearly a compromise.
Wilkerson goes on to state that while he had defended the administration's decisions by saying they had all been fooled by the "bad intelligence", he has since begun changing his mind. He cites as reasons for his seachange:
- the forced confession of Sheik al-Libby by decidedly un-Geneva Conventional methods which was known in some circles to be bad intel and was later recanted, but that this particular tidbit of Defense Intelligency Agency dissent was withheld from Powell and
- that since the CIA knew from German Intelligence that Curveball's information was bogus, perhaps Powell, Wilkerson and the American people were intentionally fooled.