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General News    H2'ed 9/13/11

Media Whitewash on Cheney War Crimes Palpable as Whistleblowers Cry Foul

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When I saw Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell as guest host of Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show in 2010, I thought the silence was broken. Wilkerson was the first invited guest when Cenk Uyger launched his own MSNBC show in February to elaborate on how he and his boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell were manipulated by Dick Cheney and George Tenet, and I imagined it was all going to bust open.

But no one farther up the media food chain has followed up on numerous Bush administration insiders decrying the Iraq war's illegality, even when Colin Powell demanded action.

A chief advisor on President-Elect Obama's transition team was Christopher Edley, Jr., the Dean at UC Berkeley Law School. Edley says he was involved in deliberations about prosecuting Bush era officials but the idea was dropped for fear of reprisals from the military, CIA, NSA and Republican party who might block anything Obama tried to do (which they've done anyway).

When the Executive and DOJ prove impotent, criminal investigations must kick in under the Legislative mandate to enforce US law and treaties. Ironically, the most serious charge on the table could be lying to Congress, but they remain at bay thanks to strong media cover.

One smoking gun lay in a "black site", itself prohibited by US law and military tradition, outsourced to Egyptian hands. It became the ending point in Colin Powell's career, a 'decison point' that informed a crucial TV speech promising Iraq had links to the 9/11 terror operation meant to bleed America dry.

The accusations relate to the Iraq war, connecting dots from Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff, to "the generals on the ground" to over forty autopsy reports obtained by the ACLU showing "murder" by torture in US custody. But this one involved scrubbing of internal dissents, preventing Powell from vetting the story he would sell to Congress, the UN and the American people.

Last month, Col. Wilkerson told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman that Powell ushered him into a one-on-one deliberation where they shared doubts about the case for an Iraq/al Qaeda link. The country stood on the precipice of war with Iraq at this moment in 2003 with millions marching worldwide in protest.

Steeled by Wilkerson's support, Powell sent out word his report would disown any link between bin Laden and Iraq. Within an hour, Wilkerson says Tenet rushed in a fresh dispatch from a secret gulag which said "a high level al Qaeda operative has just been interrogated and revealed significant contacts between al Qaeda and the Mukhabarat (Saddam's secret intelligence  force)", namely training in chemical and biological attacks.

Powell's strong skepticism in linking Iraq to 9-11 was bowled away. But only days later, the "high level" detainee recanted everything, a devastating indictment against "enhanced interrogation" in the most pivotal scenario imaginable. His name was Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan who fought against the Russians in Afghanistan. Held in Cairo, he was waterboarded, stuffed into a tiny containment box and punched for 15 minutes. 

One witness said al-Libi couldn't even make up a story to stop the abuse but eventually said Osama bin Laden sent two operatives to Iraq. This was how Powell's skepticism was assuaged, how the claims ended up in President Bush's speech and how the war was set in motion.

Powell was informed by 2004 that there was actually not four corroborating sources, that "mistakes were made". In April 2009, al-Libi was wasting away in a Libyan prison where he was visited by Human Rights Watch and asked to speak about his treatment. US lawyers also had asked for access to al-Libi but three weeks later, a newspaper owned by Muammar Kaddafi's son reported his suicide. 

Wilkerson believes the Administration would have gone to war with Iraq no matter what and even has suggested the atrocities at Bagram and "black jails" elsewhere first stemmed from overzealous demands put on interrogators to find links between Osama and Saddam. This metastasized until the Abu Ghraib scandal went public and descriptions of the alleged off-the-books DoD torture and sexual humiliation operation "Copper Green" were leaked to Seymour Hersh. 

The news or "news interview" media outlets who are part of this whitewash surely have interesting reasons for disregarding wrongdoing at the highest level of US government, abandoning their obligation to the public interest.

New Evidence the State Dept., Congress and US Public Were Bamboozled

What Powell didn't know at the time of his fateful speeches was that the claims were deemed unreliable by CIA factions and DIA field agents from the start. In this video, Wilkerson references two CIA agents who he believes were secretly taking instructions from Cheney when they were supposed to be reporting exclusively to Tenet. The crime was intentional suppression of documented dissents to promote allegations that proved false.

The same lies-by-omission were corroborated by two senior CIA officials in Salon's Bush Knew Saddam Had No WMD (Sidney Blumenthal, September 2007). Europe's top CIA commander, Tyler Drumheller, even named his 2006 book On the Brink: An Insider's Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence.

Others backed up Drumheller, including the former head of the BND (Germany's equivalent to the CIA) who conducted the interrogations in question. Germany's foreign minister at the time Joschka Fischer agreed, specifically debunking Tenet's "implausible claim" that he hadn't seen the BND dissent of Curveball's wild-eyed stories until two years after the invasion of Iraq.

These are not low-level players. Powell and Wilkerson, the #1 and #2 at state, specifically name Cheney, CIA Director George Tenet and his #2, John McGlaughlin as the culprits who oversaw the "cherrypick" job. Mr. Powell has called publicly for an explanation from the CIA and DIA but over 90% of major media has "spiked" the story.

O'Donnell's broadcast pointed out that Karl Rove himself revealed he had knowledge beyond his classification level. A similar breach of national security protocol was revealed by Bob Woodward, noting Saudi Prince Bandar was briefed about our planned Iraqi invasion before Secretary Powell, apparently including troop movements. No action was taken.

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(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)

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