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Former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell Talks
Friday, 20 March 2009 06:13
by Jayne Lyn Stahl

Lifelong Republican and chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence B. Wilkerson, stepped forward, in a post to his blog on Tuesday, to say not only that there are still innocent people being held at the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, not only that we've been holding innocent people there for more than six years, but that the U.S. government has known all along that they pose no risk to national security.

Wilkerson told the Associated Press that he was informed by briefings, and military commanders, that knowledge of those captured had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, or the so-called war on terror, but they were held anyway as information-gathering tools for a so-called "mosaic of intelligence."

Moreover, Powell's former chief of staff suggests that the process by which these "enemy combatants" were deemed to be enemies was shabby, and incompetent, and that those sent to Gitmo weren't properly "vetted" before they were hauled off to Cuba. Pakistanis, Wilkerson says, often acted as bounty hunters, securing as much as $5,000a head.

While human rights groups, and others, have speculated about the dearth of bona fide terrorists at Gitmo, the information Wilkerson divulged this week was classified until now.

Powell's former chief of staff acknowledges, too, that Rumsfeld and Cheney knew innocent men were being designated enemy combatants, without charges, were shipped off for indefinite periods of detention, and they did nothing about it as "to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership" which only goes to show that while there might be innocent people left at Gitmo, there aren't many left in our nation's capital.

Fewer than 10% of the 240 who remain at the detention camp, in Cuba, could be considered a security risk, yet a former vice president, Dick Cheney, is convinced that releasing even a single detainee would increase the terror threat. Didn't the fact that half of the executive branch went missing for the eight years following the attack on the World Trade Center pose a terror risk to this republic? We are only starting to learn the kind of mischief Mr. Cheney was up to in hiding.

Mr. Wilkerson has decided to come forward now, though he hasn't been working for the government since 2005, because a new president is in the process of deciding what to do with those who remain at Gitmo and, more importantly, because he is deeply concerned about Dick Cheney's new role as pundit-in-chief, his public censure of our new president, and the suggestion that Obama's policies pose a risk to the safety of this nation.

"To have a former vice president fear-mongering like this is really, really dangerous," contends this former helicopter pilot who flew combat missions in Vietnam, and who spent many years in public service. Lawrence B. Wilkerson deserves a congressional medal of honor for stepping forward with this disclosure, and those who have disgraced, and dishonored us, deserve a helping of what Bernie Madoff is getting now.

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