Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Morons, Idiots, and Nefarious Bastards*

Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) Lawrence Wilson can be added to the list of former insiders who feel the need to speak out about the conduct of the Bush administration. Colonel Wilson's credentials would appear to be rather impressive, if you like that sort of thing. He does not appear to be a wishy washy liberal lefie with an axe to grind. He is connected to the "doves" in the administration, having worked as Colin Powell's Chief of Staff from 2002 - 2005.

He gave an interview to the Associated Press on Monday in which he raised many concerns about the handling of the Iraq war and the way in which the "war" on terror has been prosecuted. On Iraq:
Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. Wilkerson said that Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."

Colonel Wilson believes that President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of post war planning. A cynic might suggest that even this is too kind. I didn't know there were any details about post war planning to be aloof from. Details seemed to be entirely lacking from the process. Colonel Wilson would no doubt maintain that the State Department did have lots of details on the subject and that the President and his advisers simply chose not to consult them.

Colonel Wilson also gave an interview to the Today programme in which he discusses his opinion of the post war planning which was implemented.
The post-invasion planning for Iraq was handled, in my opinion, in this alternative decision-making process which, in this case, constituted the vice-president and the secretary of defence and certain people in the defence department who did the "post invasion planning", which was as inept and incompetent as perhaps any planning anyone has ever done.

It consisted of largely sending Jay Garner and his organisation to sit in Kuwait until the military forces had moved into Baghdad, and then going to Baghdad and other places in Iraq with no other purpose than to deliver a little humanitarian assistance, perhaps deal with some oil-field fires, put Ahmed Chalabi or some other similar Iraqi in charge and leave.

This was not only inept and incompetent, it was day-dreaming of the most unfortunate type and ever since that failed we've been in a pick-up game - a pick-up game that's cost us over 2,000 American KIAs [killed in action]and almost a division's worth of casualties.
Quite. Again.

In that interview, he also discusses his thoughts on the use of intelligence by the administration to justify the invasion of Iraq, including by Powell, his then boss.
I was intimately involved in that process and to this point I have more or less defended the administration. I have basically been supportive of the administration's point that it was simply fooled - that the intelligence community, including the UK, Germany, France, Jordan - other countries that confirmed what we had in our intelligence package, yet we were all just fooled. Lately, I'm growing increasingly concerned because two things have just happened here that really make me wonder.

And the one is the questioning of Sheikh al-Libby where his confessions were obtained through interrogation techniques other than those authorised by Geneva. It led Colin Powell to say at the UN on 5 February 2003 that there were some pretty substantive contacts between al-Qaeda and Baghdad. And we now know that al-Libby's forced confession has been recanted and we know - we're pretty sure that it was invalid. But more important than that, we know that there was a defence intelligence agency dissent on that testimony even before Colin Powell made his presentation. We never heard about that.

Follow that up with Curveball, and the fact that the Germans now say they told our CIA well before Colin Powell gave his presentation that Curveball - the source to the biological mobile laboratories - was lying and was not a trustworthy source. And then you begin to speculate, you begin to wonder was this intelligence spun; was it politicised; was it cherry-picked; did in fact the American people get fooled - I am beginning to have my concerns.
Quite. Yet again. It's lazy blogging, I know, but I just don't know what to add.

And on the subject of abuse of detainees, Colonel Wilson claims that there were advocates of an "anything goes" approach inside the administration. Furthermore, he claims that these advocates did more than just argue the case.
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.
How does it go again? These actions were the work of a few bad apples [graphic images]? Many people have long contended that the bad apples were much nearer the top of the tree than the bottom.

Colonel Wislon goes futher still when asked if Dick Cheney might be guilty of war crimes.
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.
Quite. What else can be said?

* It's a cheap, hackish, out of contect title, I admit, but it was irresistable.

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