Wilkerson: Cheney, Bush, and Rumsfeld Knew About Innocent Detainees At Gitmo
Via Radley Balko, it appears that former Powell aide Colonel Lawrence Wilkinson has singed what I assume to be a sworn affidavit to the effect that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were aware that innocent people had been detained at Guantanamo Bay and tried to cover it up.
The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.
Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.
General Powell, who left the Bush Administration in 2005, angry about the misinformation that he unwittingly gave the world when he made the case for the invasion of Iraq at the UN, is understood to have backed Colonel Wilkerson’s declaration.
Colonel Wilkerson, a long-time critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to counter-terrorism and the war in Iraq, claimed that the majority of detainees — children as young as 12 and men as old as 93, he said — never saw a US soldier when they were captured. He said that many were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000. Little or no evidence was produced as to why they had been taken.
I already knew that most of the Guantanamo detainees were not captured on the battlefield and largely detained on the basis of bounties paid rather than evidence, but if Colonel Wilkerson’s allegations are true, and the Administration avoided releasing innocent people from prison for fear of political fallout, then that is simply monstrous. Maybe I was naive to think that the Administration was merely incompetent and foolhardy when it came to setting up Guantanamo–they did, after all, eventually release several hundred prisoners, so I gave them some benefit of the doubt.
Sadly, the Obama Administration isn’t much better in this respect. Replacing Gitmo with Bagram and starting a program of assassinating U.S. citizens based on secret evidence is hardly an improvement.