No Comment — March 18, 2009, 12:56 pm

Gitmo: Colonel Wilkerson Tells It All

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff, offers a reprise of important points about Guantánamo “that the media largely missed.” They “largely missed” just about everything, of course. Still, here are some highlights:

The first of these is the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan during the early stages of the U.S. operations there. 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.

Remember, these are the folks that Rumsfeld called the “worst of the worst.”

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.

So why weren’t they released? Simple. That would be an admission that we made a mistake. The Bush Administration couldn’t have that. Much better just to torture innocent people.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage labored to ameliorate the GITMO situation from almost day one.

And this helps explain why, when Powell offered to stay on through the second Bush term, Dubya thanked him for his service and said “good-bye.”

…ad hoc intelligence philosophy that was developed to justify keeping many of these people, called the mosaic philosophy. Simply stated, this philosophy held that it did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance (this general philosophy, in an even cruder form, prevailed in Iraq as well, helping to produce the nightmare at Abu Ghraib). All that was necessary was to extract everything possible from him and others like him, assemble it all in a computer program, and then look for cross-connections and serendipitous incidentals–in short, to have sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.

This explains why, when the Obama team asked to see the criminal case files for detainees who were to be charged, they found that such files barely existed.

And finally, we have the basic torture lie that plays such a keystone role in the Bush legacy:

…no intelligence of significance was gained from any of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay other than from the handful of undisputed ring leaders and their companions, clearly no more than a dozen or two of the detainees, and even their alleged contribution of hard, actionable intelligence is intensely disputed in the relevant communities such as intelligence and law enforcement. This is perhaps the most astounding truth of all, carefully masked by men such as Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney in their loud rhetoric–continuing even now in the case of Cheney–about future attacks thwarted, resurgent terrorists, the indisputable need for torture and harsh interrogation and for secret prisons and places such as GITMO.

But read the whole thing at the Washington Note.

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More from Scott Horton:

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